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RRC News: Impeachment Inquiry Hearings Help News Stations For December

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RRC News: Impeachment Inquiry Hearings Help News Stations For December


The December 2019 survey (November 7th thru December 4th) was chock full of special coverage from Washington D.C., centered around the recent Impeachment process. Many public radio news stations carried the live special coverage, which was available on six of the twenty weekdays in the survey.

In summary for 50 full-time non-commercial news stations across 44 PPM metros, the six days containing special coverage saw more total AQH listening than any of the fourteen days absent of special coverage.

November 28th and 29th (Thanksgiving and Black Friday) showed a natural 'holiday' drop-off in listening for the format, yet listening returned to normal levels as soon as listeners were back to work the following week.

Not only did the six days WITH special coverage outperform the fourteen days WITHOUT special coverage on a day-by-day basis, listening was higher for this set of stations on an hour-by-hour basis, as well.

Breaking news and special programming are often what define a radio station's brand. Managing these temporary disruptions with sponsors by sharing the impact that the event(s) have on your station's audience allows traffic departments to reschedule announcements and underwriters to close and up-sell prospects in their pipelines!

Click HERE to see the graphs in a PDF format.

As always, please contact the RRC if you have any questions about your station’s audience estimates.


In January following the release of the Nielsen Audio PPM survey for December 2019 (11/7/19 thru 12/4/19), the RRC showed that Average Quarter Hour listening for full-time public radio news stations was impacted by early coverage of the Impeachment process. The House Intelligence Committee held five days of public hearings with witnesses (11/13,15,19-21/19), and listening spiked on each of those days.

The January 2020 (1/02/20 thru 1/29/20) and February 2020 (1/30/20 thru 2/26/20) PPM surveys carried weeks of the Senate Impeachment Trial (beginning 1/21/20), yet no individual days really showed a spike in listening. This may have been the result of a lack of witnesses or the later start times for special coverage, which began after the conclusion of Morning Edition for stations on the west coast and extended well into evenings for stations on the east coast. Holiday 2019 (12/5/19 thru 1/1/20) contained a lot of holidays and few newsworthy events, and it showed little to no bump in listening for December 18th when the House took an evening vote and approved two articles of Impeachment.

The first full week of the 2020 survey year began with a spike in listening for news stations following the death of Major General Soleimani, missile retaliation against two U.S. bases and the crash of a passenger plane in Tehran (1/6-8/20). February 4th and 5th saw increased listening from The State Of The Union Address and the Senate vote to acquit President Trump of impeachment.  The February 2020 survey ended on February 26th, the day the President announced the federal government's response to the Coronavirus and placed Vice President Pence in charge.

A four-month, day-by-day graph of these events is available by clicking HERE, and please contact the RRC if you have any questions about your station’s audience estimates by emailing us at

The RRC will be providing analysis of the March 2020 survey (2/27/20 thru 3/25/20) once it releases for our first look at the Coronavirus's impact on listener behavior. March 2020 will contain two weeks of 'calm before the storm', as well as two weeks of wide spread preparation for COVID-19.

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