"Commercials" on NPR
October 21, 2014 9:47 AM   Subscribe

I am looking for data on how many minutes there are of programming in a typical hour of public radio.

I am curious about how many minutes of underwriting messages / sponsorship messages / calls for funding there are in a typical hour on a local NPR station, excluding during fund drive weeks. I am unsure of how much it varies by station - in particular, I'm curious about one of my local stations, KPCC.

As far as I can tell, there are regulations on the content of messages that can be read on non-commercial broadcast media, but no regulations on the amount of non-programming messages. If there are regulations, I would like to read them.

I'd also be interested in how many minutes of commercials there are in an average hour of commercial radio, or what the range tends to be.
posted by insectosaurus to Media & Arts (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The tool you're looking for is called a "clock" in radio parlance. Here's a typical hour of All Things Considered, for instance.
posted by jbickers at 9:55 AM on October 21, 2014 [3 favorites]

jbickers, that is an awesome link. But I took look a the Morning Edition clock and it would slightly under-represent the "funding credits" in an hour on Minnesota Public Radio, for example. That's because they always waste a segment on Marketplace Morning Report which has it's own sponsor messages embedded within (plus into music, outro music, and other garbage).
posted by paper chromatographologist at 10:06 AM on October 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

I've had good luck getting answers from my station's "member services" department. They've handled "what was the last song on this show in Dec 13?" as well as "why doesn't the fancy radio display match the music" and more.

Couldn't find a specific contact, but asking at their web contact form would be a start.

And since the license holder is a public institution, the information will be available somewhere, but may take digging through mandated FCC logs which over-the-air broadcasters must maintain.
posted by Jesse the K at 7:29 PM on October 21, 2014

insectosaurus: interesting you ask this about KPCC. They spend, it seems to me, significant amounts of time doing pledge-pitching/underwriting announcements. I've stopped listening and pledging as a result (I listen to KCRW, KVCR, and KQED up in SF).
posted by persona au gratin at 12:32 AM on October 22, 2014

Response by poster: Thank you for the responses! jbickers, the "clock" name is incredibly helpful. I can't find a clock that is specific enough online, but I will contact KPCC as Jesse the K suggested and ask if they can share their Morning Edition clock including local promos.

persona au gratin, interesting that you also feel that KPCC overdoes the promos - this question was prompted by my thinking that they spend a very significant amount of time on non-programming, but I hadn't realized that other stations might be better.
posted by insectosaurus at 1:23 PM on October 22, 2014

Glad it helped! One thing I neglected to mention is that local stations can greatly vary the amount of underwriter credits and show promos read; you'll notice something called "optional cutaway" on that clock, which means the local station could do whatever they wanted/needed to with that time if they choose to. That, plus paper chromatographologist's very correct point about embedded shows often having their own promotional copy, suggests that you're never going to get a solid, hard answer to the question. But you can get a good idea.
posted by jbickers at 2:00 PM on October 22, 2014

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