By the Numbers: Who Is Actually Listening to Public Radio?

By the Numbers: Who Is Actually Listening to Public Radio?

NPR has a broader listenership than any other radio station in the United States.  In fact, NPR has over 44 million weekly listeners across the country. Even more impressive is the representation of demographics.

Many perceive public media’s audience as primarily older white liberal males. While that demographic does make up part of the public radio audience, the fan base is actually very diverse, connecting with people of all ages, ethnicities and party affiliations. Below, we offer an overview of demographics associated with public radio listening audiences


The most recent research indicates that the number of men and women who listen to NPR is fairly equal. Overall, women make up 55.7 percent of all listeners, while men represent 44.3 percent. (Source: 2023 NPR Audience Profile.)

However, in younger age groups, the split between men and women NPR listeners is closer to 50/50. Yet, content also influences the gender makeup of an audience. For example, NPR's podcast audience draws almost 52 percent of women, the largest share of female listeners within public radio programming. (Source: 2023 NPR Audience Profile.)


Today's public radio listeners come from a wide range of age groups. The largest portion of listeners skews 35+, reaching an audience of established listeners and viewers who are leaders in their personal and professional networks. Over half are between 25 and 54 years old.

  • 18-24 years:  5.9%
  • 25-34 years: 18.1%
  • 35-44 years: 18.8%
  • 45-54 years: 16.1%
  • 55-64 years: 21.3%
  • 65+: 19.7%

The median age of NPR listeners is 48.4. (SOURCE: 2022 NPR Audience Profile.) To meet the media preferences of multiple generations, public media connects to its audience beyond broadcast, delivering programming on the go and on-demand via streaming and podcast platforms.

Public Radio’s ability to remain on the cusp of innovation in media proves optimal. Consequently, the audience responds with loyalty and trust in continued listenership.


Historically, most public radio listeners at NPR News stations were white. But today’s NPR audience is far more inclusive. Public media’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion continues to draw listeners from various ethnic backgrounds with relevant content that amplifies the voices of people of color.

The 2023 breakdown of listeners shows that both Hispanic and Black listeners are approaching 10 percent of the following while Asian and Islander listeners are at almost five percent. The Native American and Alaskan following is growing as well.

As ethnicity-inspired programming has developed both in radio and podcasts, listeners have increased in all demographics.

PRX’s Latino USA, hosted by Maria Hinojosa, elevates the voices of historically marginalized communities through authentic storytelling. Snap Judgment, hosted by Glynn Washington delivers a raw, intimate, and musical brand of storytelling that dares listeners to see a sliver of the world through another's eyes. Across Women’s Lives covers everything from abortion to women in motorsports.

All in all, public media podcasts represent a broad range of demographics and as a result, have a vast following. This has only helped grow the public radio fanbase.


Public radio listeners typically fall into higher household income (HHI) categories and have for years. This is primarily related to the fact that households that listen to public media tend to have more formal education than non-public media households.  In fact, NPR listeners are 92% more likely to be in top management. 

The median HHI of an NPR News listener is approximately $115,000 per yearMore than 84 percent of listeners have an HHI over $50,000 per year, and almost 70 percent of listeners have an HHI over $75,000. (SOURCE: 2023 NPR Audience Profile.) This means public radio listeners typically have more spending power than general market radio listeners. They are more likely to spend money on travel, books, fitness, and they own financial securities, signaling that they have disposable income.

Political Attitudes  

Approximately 75 percent of listeners identify as voting, providing the perfect opportunity for sponsors to target politically active listeners, regardless of their political attitudes. Similarly, the diversity among political viewpoints provides the opportunity for sponsors to connect with people of all political preferences, including liberal, middle-of-the-road and conservative listeners

The political breakdown of NPR listeners is just as diverse as its demographics and depicts a media source that can reach your preferred target audience. (NPR Audience Profile 2022.)

  • Republican: 32.6
  • Democrat: 34.1
  • Independent: 24.5
  • No affiliation: 6.8
  • Other: 2.0

Whereas some demographics are more prevalent among public radio listeners than others, they all serve as an influential marketing audience for brand storytelling as well as building your brand reputation. 

More notable is the fact that public media never runs political ads. Thus, your brand is never placed alongside political party messaging that the listener may not agree with. Additionally, sponsorship messages are brief and provide an uncluttered environment in which to be heard.

If you would like to learn more about aligning your organization with NPR’s diverse and loyal fan base, please provide your contact info below. Market Enginuity will reach out in a timely manner and answer any questions you may have. It’s always the right time to broaden your influence.

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