YPSILANTI: 89.1, WEMU-FM, Eastern Michigan University’s public radio station, increased its listening audience by 32% in spring 2021 when compared to fall 2020, according to Nielsen Audio broadcast radio’s ratings service. The increase moves the station from sixth most listened to station in the market to third, with market share of 6.2.
“When the pandemic began, WEMU, as did some other stations, saw a surge in listening, especially at-home listening, because of the shutdowns,” said WEMU General Manager Molly Motherwell. “What I find particularly encouraging is that, even as restrictions eased, our numbers stayed up and continued to grow. This shows that new listeners who have recently discovered WEMU like what they hear and are staying with us.”
Listenership at many major market stations showed a significant loss in morning drive, due to more people working from home during the pandemic. However WEMU’s numbers stayed high at morning drive time, netting an 8.1 share in the latest ratings --ranking third in the market.
Motherwell believes WEMU’s strong, hyper-local content contributed significantly to the increase in listeners. WEMU’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered weekday afternoons have regular segments with content partners that include the Washtenaw County Department of Public Health, the Washtenaw United Way, Concentrate Media, and the Washtenaw County Environmental Services Department that focus on issues directly connected to the community.
WEMU’s robust local music programming also contributed significantly to the audience increase, keeping those numbers high throughout midday weekdays and on weekends.
“News fatigue is very real,” said Motherwell. “We saw that play out over the summer and throughout the election season. Listeners told us over and over how much they appreciated being able to escape to our music programs when the news became overwhelming. ‘You kept me sane,’ was something we saw a lot. And watching our music programmers adjust their playlists to recognize the needs of an anxious audience was extraordinary. There is an art to programming jazz, blues and roots music, and WEMU’s music team are among the best anywhere.”
89.1, WEMU is a listener-supported NPR affiliate with format of local news, jazz, blues, and roots music, in addition to NPR news, information, and cultural programming. The stations broadcasts to an 8 county area including all or part of Washtenaw, Wayne, Oakland, Monroe, Livingston, Lenawee, Jackson, and Lucas (OH) and streams live 24 hours a day at wemu.org.