How to use free National Listener Survey data

CBAA Communications, 5th January 2020

Did you know that you can use the CBAA's National Listener Survey (NLS) data to communicate your station's important role in your community to government, grant providers and potential sponsors?

Stories are meaningful when they are memorable, impactful and personal. Data can be a powerful 'impact' tool - adding factual information from a trusted source to your station's story and the documents that you use to persuade your supporters.

As a community radio station, you can use the CBAA's free NLS fact sheets, which include information on community radio listening nationally, in the five mainland capital cities, all states and territories and non-metro areas.

The latest fact sheets published December 2019 are now available.

Choose the fact sheet most relevant  to your station to create an example of what your listeners may be like, using these tips:

Identify the audience of your pitch

Do you want to sell more sponsorship? Or are you applying for a specific grant? The kind of information you want to convey will depend on your audience - what matters to them?

Think about what they'll want to know. For example, when selling sponsorship, a business will often want to know how many people listen to your station or how big the community radio sector is (particularly if they are unfamiliar with it). 

Convey your station’s value

Stakeholders, such as local government or partners, love a feel good story. You can use the data on why people listen to community radio to demonstrate its positive impact and importance to your community. Top reasons for listening include: for local information/local news and local voices/local personalities. This emphasises the power community radio stations have in connecting with their local communities. What does your station do to meet these needs? Data like this can be used to support discussions you might have with your local council regarding funding or residential support.

Paint a picture of your listener

Who might your listener be? The free NLS fact sheets provide a wealth of demographic information, such as age, gender, work status, occupation, gross annual income and whether someone identifies as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. Consider putting together a few profiles of what some of your station's listeners might look like. This can help paint a picture to sponsors, who will be looking for a cross-over with their target market. 

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Research offers access to critical information in both station operations and governance. Knowing the listening interests of your audience leads to well informed programming, for example.


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In 2004 the first, national, statistically robust, quantitative assessment of the Australian community broadcasting sector’s audience reach was undertaken. Conducted by McNair Ingenuity, this research provided a major breakthrough in the wider shift to a more audience-centred approach to managing the sector. The findings, significance and implications of this research are considered here. Following recent developments in critical cultural policy studies, this paper locates this renewed concern for community broadcasting audiences within a ‘larger cycle of decision-making’ (O’Regan, Balnaves and Sternberg 2002: 2). The particular influence of developments such as the emerging spectrum market and the imminent transition to digital transmission systems is discussed. These developments are important to understanding why community broadcasting resistance to market-based conceptions of audience is being overcome, and how audience-centredness might be used to facilitate the continuing development of this ‘third’ sector of Australian broadcasting.