NPR One: Editorial help with Local Segmented Audio

Your locally-produced segments are a critical piece of the NPR One experience and provide the greatest opportunity for a meaningful connection to the listener.  From news and topical pieces, to longer, contextual features, the mix of national and local segments hopes to provide something for everyone, with the added benefit of listener control. This is the place in NPR One to highlight your best features, audio postcards, and short interviews.

When a listener comes to the first local story in the player we feel it is critical that two things happen.  We want them to clearly understand it’s your content and then continue listening.  Though our user testing is minimal and there is much to learn from a larger audience, we do know that there are different expectations from this kind of listener.  Being mindful of the audience and how listening changes when you allow users to bypass stories, has resulted in very strategic programming of the experience.

As you listen to the presentation of national and local stories in the player you will notice that the kinds of segments, their tone and length vary throughout the experience.  This is based on significant testing of segmented audio, what the user listens to the longest and what they tend to skip.  Which local segments surfaces in the player is based on some of this data.

We are just beginning to understand how listeners will respond to this experience and your content specifically. While the ability to skip stories is a feature that digital audiences have come to expect, this control will likely result in new ways of thinking about how we produce audio.  Like radio, we want to keep audiences listening. As we learn more, and the audience grows, we expect to revise and enhance some of these recommendations in an effort to serve them, and you more effectively.

Production Requirements for Participation:

Make sure there is one!  Considering your stories as a stand-alone experience may require some adjustment to how you are currently packaging segmented audio.  Since most stories benefit from a live introduction over broadcast, hearing a story without this context is often confusing for listeners.

**Adding intros to your segments will have the secondary benefit of a more comprehensive listening experience on other digital platforms

Make the intro identifiable with the station.  It is important to let the listeners know this is your station’s piece and not national material. The call letters or the name of the station should be prominent at the beginning of what the audience hears.

Recommendations for the best listening experience:

Content of Segments
Choose pieces that are as local as possible. These can be daily news stories, features or postcards. The end goal is to make sure your audience feels connected to your listening area, and that the stories are very specific to your listenership.  An interview with an author or a talk show segment on a national issue, for example, may not work well as other stand-alone local stories.

Variety is good. Mixing up different kinds of segments is a nice way to bring a range of your radio content to the player and keep your audience curious.

Sell the story in the intro. The metrics we have from early NPR One testing are clear; the greatest concentration of skips happen during the intro. Just as a well-written headline is critical to pulling in the reader, a thoughtful and creative intro drives longer listening.  

Note:There are time considerations for all stories built into the programming of NPR One.  At various points in the experience all stories, local and national, have different time limits. Based on what we know about segmented audio listening, the limits are shorter closer to the beginning of the flow and longer later.  Your stories will surface at different points in the flow based on their total length.

Important considerations for timing:

Time considerations

  • Length matters.  In general, shorter stories get fewer skips than longer stories. The shortest stories, with a length of 2:30 and less, consistently perform strongly in the NPR One metrics.
  • The Optimal length of local stories should be 2:00-5:00.  This mirrors the majority of national stories.
  • The maximum length for a story is 12:00.
  • Pieces with time references will be quickly outdated. While timely local news pieces are important, being mindful of dates, seasons, holidays etc. will help the shelf life of your segmented audio.  
  • All content will remain in the player for one week
  • Once played, the story will not surface for the same user twice
  • Time and date-specific segments may be removed at any time

View instructions on how to set up your Local Segmented Audio.

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