NPR Offers Premium Stream For Those Who’ve Already Pledged

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If you listen to NPR, chances are you’re not a fan of the pledge drives. Sure, you probably realize the importance of stations raising cash to keep broadcasting, but the constant interruptions can be annoying and repetitive, especially if you listen for extended periods.

Now there’s a way to avoid the pledge drive, and all you have to do is, you know, pledge.

San Francisco’s KQED is offering a very special offer for those who donate $45 or above in its latest pledge drive: Access to a premium audio stream online that will have no pledge breaks whatsoever (instead, the radio signal breaks will be filled by national programming). The idea’s been in the works for two years, according to Don Derheim, KQED’s COO and EVP, but he believes the technology is finally ready for primetime.

“The device universe is ready,” he says. “The listeners here are ready… In this beta — it will always be in beta to some extent — we’re just looking for: Is there really a market for it? And how do we have it priced?”

That question might already have an answer: The program, launched at the end of last week, raised $26,000 in the first day. Admittedly, KQED is in a unique position — the largest audience of any public radio station in the US, and in a location very open to new technology — but I can’t imagine that other NPR listeners wouldn’t be willing to adopt the idea if it means less interruptions to their programming.

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