NPR In Radio Production



National Public Radio, Inc., commonly known as NPR, is the leading membership and representation organization for public radio, and services hundreds of member radio stations worldwide. NPR is a non-profit, funded membership organization that produces and distributes media content, both nationally and internationally, as a syndicator for its member stations (, 2016). It was created through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a non-profit corporation that is funded by the United States government to promote public broadcasting. NPR was founded in 1970, and is now headquartered in Washington, D.C.

The company programmed its first radio broadcast that aired in April of 1971, that consisted of live coverage of the Senate Vietnam hearings that were occurring at that time (Reference for Business, 2016). Shortly after that, NPR debuted what would become their most popular program to date: All Things Considered, a daily news radio program.

NPR has a news staff of over 340 combined reporters, newscasters, editors, producers, hosts, and more (, 2016). The company has a management team consisting of CEO/President Jarl Mohn, four key executives, and a Board of Directors. The Board of Directors is made up of Jarl Mohn, Chair of the NPR Foundation Howard Wollner, 10 NPR Member Station Managers, and five selected members of the general public (Bloomberg Business, 2016).

jarl mohn

CEO Jarl Mohn

NPR owns the copyrights to all content that it produces, as well as other original media, such as the website and the NPR News iPhone app. Along with using the NPR brand to distribute programs produced by its independent producer member stations, NPR is highly known for producing its own radio and media content, including news, music, talk shows, and more. Programs that NPR produces itself are news and public affairs programs, such as Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and cultural programming, such as Snap Judgement and All Songs Considered. The website provides updated news, podcasts, blogs, streaming audio, exclusive multimedia features including video and photojournalism, and free access to over 10 years of archived coverage done by NPR. It also programs a channel through Sirius XM Satellite Radio, and produces several international programs in over 150 countries around the world. The NPR Twitter account is one way for its followers to see news and social updates, including stories ranging from Syrian refugees to scientific research about soot in snow (NPR Twitter, 2016). You can also find an NPR Soundcloud account that offers music playlists, poetry audio, and more (NPR Soundcloud, 2016). What seems to be NPR’s most valued asset, though, is its control over the Public Radio Satellite System. This system is the main satellite and internet content distribution service that distributes NPR programs and other public radio programming for competing programming producers all over the world (, 2016).

Given the nature of NPR’s commercial-free programming, member stations are required to be non-commercial or non-commercial educational radio stations. You could say that these member stations are among the “suppliers” for NPR’s business. According to the official NPR website, the organization reaches 25.9 million weekly listeners through over 1,000 public radio stations on air. The NPR online counterpart,, brings in an audience of 25.6 million monthly users (National Public Media, 2016). Among its biggest business competitors are the other large public radio providers, including American Public Media, and Public Radio International (, 2016). American Public Media is the second largest provider for public radio programming in the United States and is also a non-profit organization. NPR of course also competes with hundreds of locally and independently produced programs that are not being distributed by the NPR brand.

Given that NPR is a non-profit organization, it must receive its revenues from various streams in order to stay afloat. The bulk of its revenues come from fees that it charges its member stations for programming, and for an annual member due. The pricings of those programming and distribution fees differ because NPR charges more per station as the volume of listening increases. There are also flat fees that it collects from users of the NPR-owned Public Radio Satellite System. The CPB grants federal funds to public radio stations, that in turn pay NPR for its programming and distribution, and that is a significant aspect to NPR’s revenue. Since NPR also provides digital services for its audience, the member stations must also pay a typically flat rate for that support. It also receives grants from foundations, sponsorships, and contributions from independent supporters.

Although NPR is known for being commercial free, there are still advertising revenues that it can generate. In non-commercial radio, hosts often use a form of advertising called underwriting. With underwriting, a host can advertise for sponsors by making brief statements that may include corporate slogans, descriptions of products and services, or contact information such as websites. NPR uses its online services to generate advertising revenue through banner ads featured on the homepage. Interestingly enough, too, NPR offers the sale of consumer products through its NPR Shop that adorn the NPR brand so that supporters can self promote the company (, 2016).

NPR has been around for about 45 years, or what feels like forever to some of us. While it has done an excellent job in providing its partners with a stable and successful platform for public radio programming and distribution, it also has plans to delve in the innovative aspect of the broadcasting industry. In the last few years it has launched NPR Labs, an innovative research and consulting service that is focused on the research and development of radio technology in the industry. In fact, the NPR Labs engineers have developed digital multicasting for HD Radio, which became the replacement technology for analog radio. Soon to come are innovations for the development of accessible media services for the hearing- and vision-impaired. According to NPR, it is the only major broadcast organization that invests in radio technology assessment, and that contributes to its name as the leading organization for public radio (, 2016).

npr labsReferences

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