Getting Public Radio Stations to Respond to a Survey
December 30, 2015 12:29 PM   Subscribe

I have been working for about a year on a project that I expect will lead to a book about the public radio fund drive. I've asked a lot of questions here about it as I've tried to figure out how to approach the topic. Along with focus groups (I've done two, planning a third) and a literature review I'm finishing, I need to conduct a survey of public radio stations.

I've compiled a list of questions covering every aspect of public radio fund raising the book will cover. Now, I'm going over them again, combining some, cutting some and reworking the language for all that are left to try to eliminate as much bias as I can. My question is, I plan to ask these public entities about issues their listeners have had questions about but public radio has been slow to respond to, such as transparency, responsiveness, ethics, program decisions as they relate to fund drives and more.

Considering that public radio has a reputation for openness, how should I approach these stations to respond to my survey while alleviating their fears of alienating potential donors by speaking truthfully on elephant in the room, fund drive issues? I will give them all the option to speak anonymously, "on background" if they choose, but the more attribution, the better.

This isn't a "How do I do a survey" question. It's more of a "How do you think these stations will respond to questions they aren't normally asked" question.
posted by CollectiveMind to Society & Culture (4 answers total)
Hard to say.

I've worked in public radio since the mid-80s. As you know there are a lot of public radio stations licensed to a variety of different organization. There are independent community stations that would be the envy of any broadcaster and NPR members that make WKRP look like a documentary. I expect some station managers would be quite open and others would not.

Personally, I think the challenge of such a survey is submitting it without a partner within the industry. If I'm deciding whether or not to respond to such a survey, I'm going to give it a great deal more attention if it comes form an organization like Greater Public.

All of this, of course, is without having seen the questions themselves.
posted by LinnTate at 12:49 PM on December 30, 2015 [2 favorites]

Based on what you've written here, I think most likely will not cooperate:
-- everybody feels over-mandated & over-worked and it's not clear whose job it would be to help you, so your request might get shuffled around/lost/ignored
-- they're unlikely to see you as an important stakeholder (primary stakeholders would be local)
-- your project would scare them: public radio has enemies and is super-afraid of reputational damage

I think it's likelier they would cooperate with you if 1) you make it very clear that you are a public radio supporter/admirer, 2) you can get an industry partner as suggested by LinnTate, and 2) you can offer them some kind of incentive, like access to survey data that won't appear elsewhere. It'd probably also help if you promise some kind of pre-publication review or quote approval.
posted by Susan PG at 3:05 PM on December 30, 2015 [3 favorites]

I know you say it's not a "how do I do a survey" question, but as someone who works in public radio and linguistics, I get surveys all the time from businesses and grad students and I don't answer most of them. This sentence makes me think your survey would be one of them: "I've compiled a list of questions covering every aspect of public radio fund raising the book will cover."


—Most are too long. 76 questions? Fuck no. 12 questions? Maybe.

—They don't offer to share the full results with me (or, the last time I did the survey and they said they would share all I got back was an abstract and a request that I pay for the complete results of the survey I participated in).

—They're obviously trying to sell a product and are trying to add me to a marketing list.

—It's clear they have an agenda, or, conversely, there seems to be no point at all.
posted by Mo Nickels at 4:17 PM on December 30, 2015 [3 favorites]

All of these are of great help. I realize sharing the data would be an excellent idea, as would finding a partner and offer pre-publication review/quote approval. And I should've probably said, "Most aspects" rather than every aspect because I don't want to beat them to death with too many questions. I'm not trying to sell a product but I agree that having a point is important and my point is to give the public insight on how and why drives work the way they do.
posted by CollectiveMind at 9:15 PM on December 30, 2015

« Older Are there vocational Ivies?   |   Concurrent Dialogue Trees in Twine/Twine-likes? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.