Data + the Greater Good Meetup: Nate Landau at New York Public Radio

by Mary Plum

Posted November 2, 2018

New York Public Radio (NYPR), which contains WNYC, the nation’s most listened-to public radio station, and WNYC Studios, the fifth largest podcast producer in the world (you may be familiar with one of their shows: Freakonomics Radio, RadioLab, 2 Dope Queens, The New Yorker Radio Hour, among others), reaches nearly 30 million per month. As a nonprofit organization, NYPR has traditionally used data to convert listeners into donors. Nate Landau, Chief Digital Officer at NYPR, spoke at our most recent on how the organization is expanding their usage of data to grow, know, and engage their audience.

Nate began his talk by speaking to how little actionable data exists within the podcasting arena. In radio, Nielsen ratings, which are released 30 days after air, allow a station to compare to other stations. In podcasting, the industry segmentation across platforms prohibits the existence of any comprehensive data. To overcome this obstacle, NYPR made the decision to design their own data strategy. Nate presented three types of questions that NYPR uses to guide their data strategy – Content, Audience, and Membership.

NYPR begin building their own internal capabilities to understand their audience – both who they are and how they are listening to content.

He also spoke about challenges NYPR faced in doing so:

  • Disintermediation, or that NYPR has no direct connection to their audience and thus their data – a listener likely listens to a podcast on the radio or via a platform like Spotify or Apple and NYPR does not have access to that data
  • Disparate data sources – Internal systems (CRMs, surveys, financial data, etc) have disparate information from contracted partners (Nielsen, Google Analytics, etc) which is separate from 3rd party platforms (Apple, Pandora, iHeart, etc)

To address these challenges, NYPR began building the first data warehouse in public radio– a tool to normalize all of the available data, as well as provide a platform where the rest of the organization could access and engage with the data to make informed, strategic decisions in their respective departments.

Nate shared some of the insights NYPR has gained from the data:

  • There is a 57.9% overlap between donors and newsletter subscribers
  • A few listeners drop off within the first few minutes of an episode, but most listeners tend to listen for the duration
  • Most listeners of the radio livestream only listen for one day, but there are many listers who engage over long periods of time
  • Most individual listeners tend to listen to only one show, while only 3% listen to two shows
  • Which shows’ listeners are more likely to listen to other shows as well
  • The affinities between listeners of different shows
  • Wednesdays and Fridays are the best days to release content
  • Fall months are the best months to release new shows

In the video below, Nate explains why these insights are important for Content, Audience and Membership:

This effort is relatively new for NYPR, so Nate’s team is still seeking buy-in from individuals within the organization. Yet, that hasn’t stalled the initiative’s growth. NYPR plans to collect additional types of data in the future and is currently rolling out their datasets and engineering knowledge to other public radio stations across the country.

Our “Data + the Greater Good” Meetup series has featured speakers from an array of nonprofit organizations, including The Met, The Whitney, Lincoln Center, and Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. Read about their presentations on our blog.


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