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Report: broadcast radio news becoming less diverse

The standard narrative I usually hear is that broadcast media is slowly getting more diverse. More African-American, Latino, Asian and Native American voices are showing up at main studios . . . not as quickly as anyone would like, but at least it is happening.

But those assumptions are not confirmed by the latest
Radio Television Digital News Association/Hofstra University Annual Survey of radio and television station personnel. Although the survey says that overall, the minority work force in radio has edged up by a slim 0.1 percent, the percentage of people of color in conventional broadcast radio news has dropped.

Look at the chart below. In 1995, the percentage of “Caucasians” in the “news work force” clocked in at 85.3 percent. Now in 2013 it stands at 89.1 percent. The percentage of African-Americans stood at 5.7 percent. Now it stands at 2.3 percent. Hispanic representation has declined from 7.5 percent to 5.7 percent. Only Asian Americans and Native Americans have made progress, but their percentages are negligible: 1.3 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively.

source: RTDNA

source: RTDNA

The percent of African-American radio news directors has dramatically declined—down to 1.9 percent now from 5.4 percent in 1995.

Other observations from the report:

“The percentage of minorities at commercial radio stations, 14.0%, was more than double the percentage at non-commercial stations, 6.7%.  That’s a reversal from a year ago.  The biggest difference was among Hispanics, where the percentage is more than four times as high at commercial stations compared to non-commercial ones.  Having a bigger staff or more stations did not increase minority representation until you got to the biggest  stations (10+ staffers).  But market size made a difference, with the largest markets (1 million or more) about double or more all the other market sizes.  As usual, the West (in particular) and then the South had the highest percentages of minorities.  They always do.”

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