What is a Driveway Moment?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

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.

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.
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.

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.”

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Fortunately, with modern satellite radio, I can park in my driveway and continue listening to the song or story as long as I don't open the car door. I remember back in the day I'd either have to leave the engine running or lose a few precious seconds of listening time to shut the engine off and go back to the accessories position. Most of the time, the driveway moment song will be something I haven't heard in years or a rare live version or a cover version I've never heard.


When I was in high school, I guess you could say that I had many driveway moments in my room. Since I couldn’t drive most of my high school life, and my parents would rarely let me listen to what I wanted to in the car when they were driving me somewhere, I had many moments in my room where I kept the radio on because of a certain song or a certain radio show.

My favorite songs used to keep me in my room for hours upon hours, although I had other things I should have attended to. I would listen to some radio talkshows in my room, that I knew my parents would not let me listen to, like the radio talkshow Dr.Drew and Adam Carolla hosted, called Loveline.

I am pretty sure my parents would disagree with their opinions greatly and would not want me to even hear the questions that were being asked, much less their answers. I didn’t go out and do stuff just because I was hearing of other teenagers doing stuff, but it probably did desensitize me to topics and opinions that I should have been very sensitive to.

I also had driveway moments at the end of the night, when people would dedicate songs to their loved ones and give their loved ones a shout-out. I thought that was so nice and romantic back then.

I also would keep the radio on for a long time just to hear the top forty countdown by Casey Kasem, and the top five at nine o’clock on a locally-aired radio station. Now I rarely listen to top hits of today, as I do not like most of the songs that are popular as of recent months and years.


One radio host used to give me a lot of driveway moments. It was the Dililah show. The one where the woman named Dililah would read all these sentimental stories, both heart warming and heart-wrenching and either play the song that the writer wanted her to play or Dililah would pick out the best song depending on the story itself.

Those sentimental stories would get me every time, I would spend a lot of the time crying in my driveway while listening to Dililah tell the story and then play an emotional song afterward.

I used to try to guess what song she was going to pick out based upon the story that she read. I also used to try and guess what type of advice she would give the writer.

I have always wondered if radio personalities are usually similar to who they are on the radio, or if they are very different.

I know that since they know they are being recorded that they probably are a certain way on-air, but I have always wondered if since they are so used to being on-air if they act and speak quite similar when they are off-air as well.


I have had a lot of driveway moments, especially since I have an older car that has only the option of me listening to the radio, or to cassettes, and seeing as I do not having any cassettes anymore, I am always listening to the radio in my car.

My favorite radio station is called K-LOVE, a Christian radio station. It plays Christian songs, and has Christian talk shows on it.

A lot of the songs, bible verses, radio hosts, people calling in, inspire me on a daily basis. All the musicians' songs on the station have lyrics that open up my mind, heart, and soul to loving God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. I also have been inspired to love myself and everyone else as well because of how K-LOVE reaches into my heart and soul each and every day.

There are many times that I have heard testimonies on the station that inspire and encourage me.

I have had many times in which I spent a lot longer in the car listening to K-LOVE than I anticipated, and feel happier because of their encouraging words. I am a loyal listener of this station partially because of all the driveway moments I have had since I started listening to them.


My husband is on the road a lot for his job, and enjoys listening to audio books on CD. His driveway moments are not so much listening to the radio as they are finishing a chapter of an audio book.

If I see him pull in the driveway and not come in for awhile, I can usually guess what he is doing. He likes to wait until a good stopping point in the book before shutting off the car and coming inside.


When I travel a long distance, the radio seems to keep me awake and alert better than anything. If I can find a good talk show, I can drive for hours and not get tired.

I don't even know if the Dr. Laura show is still on or not, but this was one that I enjoyed listening to. I would always try to guess what Dr. Laura's advice would be.

Even though I listened to her many times, she always surprised me. There were many times when I would wait in the driveway through a commercial to hear the advice she would give a caller.

Many times this turned in to more than a few minutes because when the next caller was on the air, I would get caught up in their story and want to hear how it turned out as well.


I never realized there was really a term for this experience. There have been many times when I pull in my driveway and sit in the car to finish listening to a song.

This can be a song I have heard many times before, but if it is one of my favorites, I like to listen to the rest of the song.

I have never stayed in my driveway to listen to a commercial in order to hear the next song coming up though. After sitting there for a couple of minutes to finish one song, I am ready to go inside.

If my kids have seen me pull in and I am not in the house shortly, they will be outside and I wouldn't get the chance to hear it anyway.


I rarely listen to the radio while driving so I've never had a driveway moment.

But there was a great driveway moment in one of my favorite films, Sleepless in Seattle. The lead actress, Meg Ryan was so caught up on Tom Hank's story about his wife who passed away on a live radio program, that she couldn't stop listening to it even when she stopped for gas.

She walked into the gas station's convenience store and kept on listening to the show through the radio there, and so did the rest of the women! It's one of my favorite scenes from the movie and I always remember it.

Has anyone had a driveway moment like that?


I once had a driveway moment listening to NPR's This American Life. I had just returned from the grocery store when the show came on. I was probably only 5 minutes into the show when I pulled into the driveway.

But already I was hooked. I just had to know what happened and there was never a dull moment in the story for me to run inside really fast.

So I just sat there in my car, ate some pita bread and drank a soda and listened to the whole program. I must have been out there for 50 minutes. My neighbors might have thought I was strange but I was quite content.


Ha, what a great article. They always talk about driveway moments when they do the NPR pledge drive and I feel like I have about one of them a week.

When I drive home there is a show out of Boston on called On Point. It is a great call in news discussion show and they have a lot of smart guests and a really knowledgeable host. It is probably my favorite show on NPR and one of the best discussions of the news you will find anywhere.

It is not uncommon for me to pull into the driveway just as someone has asked a great question or a guest is getting to the most interesting part of their story. I usually just roll my windows down, tilt the seat back a little and listen for as long as I like.

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