In the world of radio, a “driveway moment” is a radio segment so compelling that people will leave their cars running in the driveway to finish listening to it. The term is often heard on National Public Radio, an American radio production company which makes a number of widely-syndicated radio shows, especially during pledge drives, as a motivator to get people to donate. For radio producers, making a driveway moment is a major achievement.
Driveway moments can take a number of forms. For example, a segment on a show may simply be so interesting that people want to hear what happens, especially in the case of radio serials, where people may follow the fates of characters closely. In other cases, a driveway moment may be purely accidental, as in the instance of an interruption of a regular broadcast to announce a newsflash. Careful editing and composition of a segment are used to keep the material interesting enough that people don't want to touch the dial, with the goal of giving listeners a driveway moment.
Many broadcast companies try to create driveway moments in the afternoon hours, when they know that people will be driving home from work and listening to the radio. If they can convince a captive audience to keep listening to the radio after the drive is over, they can increase advertising revenue, by showing advertisers that they have a large base of listeners. Stations which often create driveway moments also tend to attract loyal listeners, with people recommending stations with good content to each other and thereby increasing the station's listenership.
Many people who drive and listen to the radio have experienced at least one driveway moment in their lives, and some people can even specifically remember notable driveway moments. Memorable driveway moments often include announcements of life-changing news on the radio, or a segment on an issue which becomes important to the listener as a result of the driveway moment.
People also use this term to refer to an especially good song, referencing the idea that they feel compelled to listen to the song all the way through to the end, and that they can't bear turning the radio off partway through. Music stations usually try to broadcast songs which will inspire driveway moments to keep people listening, and they may use such songs as an incentive to sit through a commercial break. For example, listeners regularly hear “we'll be right back with [hit song] in just a moment.”