Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy




This dissertation addresses the commercial presence within public radio. A case study of three NPR affiliate stations was conducted to determine to what extent public radio is being influenced or compromised by increased commercial rationality. It also addresses how they have been able to resist commercialism and remain true to the original ideals of public radio. The research included active interviews, observations, and document analyses of data collected from field research at each o f the three stations in the sample. Analysis of the data indicates that public radio stations have grown more commercial due to declining tax-based subsidies, and increased dependence on “listener sensitive income” which is the combination of business underwriting and individual listener donations. Dependence on these revenue sources has caused stations to make programming decisions that are quite similar to those made by commercial stations. It is suggested that the course of public radio over time is largely an indicator of larger cultural and economic trends that commercialize more and more cultural elements previously able to exist on much less economic or non-commercial terms. It is suggested that in comparison to these Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. societal trends, public radio is still able to provide a significant alternative to the commercial radio market, but the continued existence of that alternative may be threatened.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access