(Taxpayer supported) Wisconsin Public Radio Source Demographic Survey Shows Need For Improvement

Hannah Haynes and Jennifer Dargan:

Wisconsin Public Radio works daily to bring news content that accurately reflects the diversity of the state. But results of a year-long internal review confirmed what many at WPR had suspected — sources on air are overwhelmingly white. 

New data collected over the last year shows that of the people who appeared on air on WPR’s two radio networks nearly nine out of 10 were white. There was an even split between males and females.

The data also showed geographical distribution, with a significant number of the state’s 772 zip codes represented. This is an important metric for a statewide network such as WPR. 

So how can WPR as an organization best represent the people who live in Wisconsin? WPR has plans to improve representation going forward. Those plans are outlined below. WPR will continue to collect this crucial demographic data to find out how the organization is doing and make that data public. 

Understanding The Project

A year ago, WPR began a project to survey sources who appeared on The Ideas Network and the NPR News & Music Network to better understand who reporters and producers at WPR were featuring on talk shows and in their reporting. 

When developing this project, it was important to the organization to survey people and learn their race and/or ethnicity and gender from them rather than having a reporter or producer make an educated guess, which different teams at WPR had been doing prior to this project.