Podcast survey: FIR listeners are influential, educated, mobile and global

The results are in from the first FIR Listener Survey that ran during April, providing us with invaluable feedback on a wide range of topics including what listeners think of the show, how and where they listen, and with some great suggestions on how to make it even better.

The survey results also provide a credible picture of who the listeners are to a podcast such as this, with a clear demographic view on listeners’ occupations, geographic locations, budget responsibility and education levels.

In all, the survey attracted 126 responses, a meaningful representative number from which to draw valid conclusions and make decisions on developing the show for the future. We estimate that each bi-weekly episode of FIR attracts between 800 and 1,000 listeners. This estimate is primarily based on download statistics from Libsyn where the MP3 files are hosted.

We will be publishing the entire survey results soon with the detailed responses to each of the 22 questions and some pretty graphs, including responses to the open-ended questions. All we will omit will be personally-identifiable information: the names of those of you who chose to provide such information when taking the survey will not be published.

In the meantime, here are some headline figures from the survey results.

Listening to FIR:

  • Half of the listeners (49.2%) listen to every episode
  • 45% get hold of the MP3 files via iTunes; 18% subscribe to the RSS feed; only 2.4% listen to the audiostream from the website
  • Nearly two-thirds of you (61%) listen to FIR on a digital media player like an iPod
  • Where you listen varies widely – 22% in the office; 16% on the commute to work, 15% at home, and 10% when jogging or doing other exercise
  • Podcast-listening tends to be a solo activity – 95% of you listen to FIR by yourselves
  • Over 48% of you have been listening to FIR for more than six months, and 13.5% of you have been listening since the very first episode in January 2005

Who the Listeners Are:

  • 14% have senior management positions in agencies
  • 13% are independent communication consultants
  • Nearly 13% are managers or directors in corporate communication positions
  • Over one third of you (38%) work outside the communication profession in areas as diverse as aviation, IT, environmental engineering, local government, telecommunications, publishing, utilities, energy, academia, retail, and banking
  • 81% of listeners are men (so, logically, 19% are women)
  • Nearly two-thirds of you (64%) have budget responsibility in your organization
  • The majority of listeners (60%) falls into the 25-44 age range followed by 27% in the 45-54 range
  • Over 44% have a BA, BS or other four-year degree, and 30% have a Masters, PhD or other post-graduate degree
  • Just over 15% are IABC members although the majority (53%) has no professional affiliation
  • 41% of you listen to no other communication-related podcasts except FIR. However, many of you also enjoy listening to podcasts by other communicators, especially Eric Schwartzman’s On The Record Online (31%), Edelman’s Earshot (27.8%), Lee Hopkins’ Better Communications (19.8%) and Joseph Jaffe’s Across the Sound (19%)

Where the Listeners Are:

  • Top five countries – United States (48%), Canada (15.6%), UK (14.8%), Australia (6.6%), Netherlands (3.3%)
  • Geographic breakdown – North America (64%); Europe including UK (26%); Australia (6.6%), rest of the world (3%)

Likes and Dislikes:

  • Nearly all of you (97%) like Shel’s and Neville’s news and commentary discussions (and we’re very pleased about that!)
  • 64% of listeners like the brief interviews we include in some episodes
  • 10% of you enjoy the different outro music we play in each show while nearly a quarter (23.8%) of you don’t
  • Show notes are liked by 39% of listeners (less than 1% dislike them)
  • Listeners’ comments and our discussions of them were rated highly by 74% of listeners (less than 2% of you said you didn’t like this show segment)
  • Many of you like the contributions from our correspondents, especially from Lee Hopkins (49%) and Eric Schwartzman (40%)
  • The big dislike – over half of you (52.4%) don’t like the typically long length of the show


The suggestions for what we could do with the show in its ongoing development and to improve it as a listening experience came in the open-ended comments from survey participants – collectively over 200 individual comments, and we will be posting all of them, verbatim. A clear majority of recommendations and suggestions were related to show length with requests to make it shorter.

We are listening to what you’ve told us! What we plan to do about it all will be a discussion point in a forthcoming show during May.

Again, we would like to sincerely thank every one of the 126 people who took the survey. You are truly a community.

(Cross-posted from For Immediate Release, Shel’s and my podcast blog.)

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Derek Hodge

    I’d be very careful with any claims you make for your sample being representative. You have no way of establishing whether it is representative or not and using a self-selecting sample, as you did, is not a good start.

    And even a truly random sample of that size would give you margins of error of more than or – 8% for results around the 50% mark.

    Interesting results and they provide would seem to provide valuable feedback

    C5rossposted from For Immediate Release podcast blog.

  2. neville

    Thanks for pointing that out, Derek.

    Our survey results are the opinions of 126 people who say they listen to the podcast and chose to tell us what they think of it. Those opinions are good enough for Shel and I to consider in our planning for how we develop the show.

    But I take your point re using the word “representative” which clearly has specific meaning in surveys.

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