BBC Urges Focus On Young Radio Audiences
The recent decline of young audiences is causing concern for the radio industry, with the important 16-24 year old age group dropping by 5% across all radio over the last two years.
Speaking at the Edinburgh Radio Festival Gail Gallie, head of youth marketing at the BBC and John Robson, partner at research company Sparkler, unveiled details of new research which aims to determine how best to attract and hang on to radio listeners under 30.
Explaining the importance of capturing the market, Gallie said: "It's not going to get easier. Big brands are fighting to get the attention of the young audience and there is a vast uptake of listening to radio through other platforms such as TV and iPods."
She described radio as a "minus medium", saying it did not have all the glossy effects and pictures that TV did. "The question we need to look at", she said, "Is where does radio's potential lie? What is it that only radio can do best?"
Robson stated that research conducted by Sparkler showed the under 30s to be ambivalent towards digital entertainment and that, while they do consume media, they do so subconsciously.
He bracketed this age group as the "digi-life generation" and asserted that in order to capture this demographic, radio "shouldn't let digital be a distraction," and that broadcasters need to "go back to the audience."
The research found that, for the under 30s, friendship was the most important aspect in their consumer behaviour, with examples of the internet and text messaging being used to extend their inter-peer relationships.
Using these findings, Gallie claimed that, in order for radio to reach young audiences, it must develop and exploit its key strength. She said: "Radio is your friend, this is what makes it into a plus media."
The reliability of radio and the quality time spent with the audience allows radio, specifically DJs, to build up a relationship with its listeners.
Gallie explained: "Its DJs who offer that friendship and there has never been a more important time to extend that friendship to the under 30s."
She continued: "We shouldn't get too distracted from the digital medium, the secret lies with what radio has already got. We should stop looking to the future and assess the past - radio, unlike any other medium can be your best friend."