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.