Outliers and the secret sauce

Part of my job is bean-counting, and the beans I count are you, that is, your visits to ncpr.org. Knowing where you go on the site, how your get there, etc., helps us shape the kind of news and entertainment we create, how and where we put it and promote it. All of that data ideally goes into the secret sauce that flavors NCPR.

The numbers show two different kinds of success stories. The first is viral. A piece launches, gets immediate attention, and then is widely shared out beyond our usual audience. Another kind of success has a “long tail.” It gets moderate attention when it is first created, but contains elements that make it attractive to a general or a niche audience and visits continue, but taper off over a long period of time.

But the most enduring and most visited single piece of content at ncpr.org is neither of these. NCPR pages have been viewed 20 million times since March 2009, when our engineer Radio Bob Sauter had the idea to put up a page that gave tips on how to get good fm radio reception. This page has never had a link on the home page, we didn’t do a big on-air push, no boosted Facebook promotion. It wasn’t tweeted or Intagrammed or tumbld or snapchatted. It just had straightforward good information on selecting and using hardware to get the most out of old-school analog fm broadcast.

It has the opposite of a long tail. It started slow and steady with a couple of hundred visits a month. A few years later that had grown to a couple thousand visits a month; now it is over 6,000 a month from all over the planet. Fully 1 percent of all the traffic to ncpr.org since the page went up has gone there, coming in behind only the home page, the live stream player, the main news page, the weather page and Photo of the Day.

News you can actually use, plus a dash of Radio Bob. That must be the secret sauce.


5 Comments on “Outliers and the secret sauce”

  1. Hank says:

    I’m waiting for the movie starring Radio Bob as himself.

  2. David Duff says:

    He is the movie! Who knew? All these years I’ve been trying to get him to play “Just give me three steps” by Lynyrd Skynyrd when I should of been trying to get his autograph. Jeesumcrow

  3. Trude says:

    Hi Radio Bob,

    FYI We have a camp north of Burlington on the Lake, it is VERY difficult to pick up the station in my car, and very frustrating(live streaming works great in the camp) but I have found one spot on the road out where I can pick up NCPR from Canton. As long as I donot touch the dial it says with me. Life is good!

  4. mle nevin says:

    Well, now that I know, I’ll learn about getting better reception where we stay in the woods next to Lake Champlain in July!

    The other thing I visit the site for are the gorgeous photos. Are they Creative Commons, or do the photogs put them up for licensing at any stock photo sites?

  5. Deb says:

    Hi Dale. Good essay. Regarding Bob’s article. Ive read it. Its great!and pops up on the 1st page on a google search.

Comments are closed.