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Goodbye 'Car Talk,' Hello 'Everywhere' Radio?


The famous "Car Talk" brothers are shutting down their beloved public radio show, but this does not mark the end of the radio era, say executives.


"But," Yong continues, "I think [the survival of radio] will depend on GDP and local advertising trends. As you look out over the next decade, with the increase in all these IP services, as well as Sirius XM (NASDAQ:SIRI), I think all the traditional radio broadcasters will really have to move quickly to additional strategies. If traditional radio stations do not move fast enough on the digital front, with initiatives like iHeartRadio, there's a risk that the top line will decelerate."

Fortunately, NPR has not wasted time moving into the digital realm. Anna Christopher, Director of Media Relations for NPR, explains to Minyanville that she believes those who had previously followed the Magliozzi brothers will not stop listening just because there are no new shows. If anything, she predicts that more of the younger generation will fall in love with Ray and Tom's playful humor and surplus of motor vehicle knowledge, especially thanks to the many methods through which public radio is now reaching a younger audience -- namely online and through social media. "We don't anticipate any change with regards to audiences or donations," said Christopher.

Although for the majority of its first 15 years on air Car Talk was strictly a call-in radio show, it has taken advantage of Twitter, blogs, Facebook, and more within the last 10 years or so to give advice to the ever-increasing number of fans.

In some ways, NPR's early adoption of multimedia formats was prompted by demographics. NPR is funded by the government and by personal donations. On average, NPR gains 4.6% of its revenue from federal, state, and local governments, which pales in comparison to the 39% it gains from individual donations. As of now, the average NPR listener is in the early 50s age range. However, as NPR continues to infiltrate the Internet and the ever evolving world of mobile technology, it's hoped that the average age of the audience will be younger.

In recent years, NPR shows have expanded to Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), Twitter, and other social media outlets. Many programs have also created apps for the iPhone and iPad. Podcasts of every NPR show as well as news updates are available on NPR's website. "Radio is our number one strength," echoes Christopher, and the development and expansion of media "plays on our strength." As CEO Gary Knell once said, "Radio isn't going away, it's going everywhere."
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