In 2006, the National Association of Broadcasters commissioned Paragon to study the newest generation of radio listeners, dubbed Millennials. “Millennials” was a quaint term at the time, along with other terms in the study from 10 years ago, including “mp3 players,” “iPods” and “MySpace.” The download generation was still a toddler. Only one third of our Millennials downloaded video, and only one half had downloaded music onto personal devices. But, as much as the devices and terms have changed since 2006, Millennial’s radio desires remain unchanged. Also unchanged is radio’s shocking lack of response to the wants and needs of younger listeners.
Here are the major findings and our recommendations from 2006:
- Radio is a default medium based heavily on convenience. Should other media appear as convenient as radio, especially in the car, radio listening among these young people would be seriously jeopardized.
- Engage youth with more compelling content to rise above the convenience factor.
- Push your radio programming wherever audio can go. Serve it up when, where and how they can listen.
- Radio must aggressively pursue listeners under 25.
- New formats, fresh approaches, mold-breaking approaches required.
- Improved business models needed to integrate new media revenue streams with traditional advertising.
- Millennials are screaming for radio that is for them, not their parents.
Stop ignoring their pleas. Give them what they want, including—
- Heavy new music exposure. More titles, more daring, less repetition.
- New music access. When they hear it, they should be able to buy it.
- Cut the B.S. and make it real.
- More adventuresome formats that cater to their wider music tastes and are less predictable. Online music streams are great opportunities today.
- Robust websites that go where the station can’t go…with more new music, more diversity, more community, more participation, no limits.
- Building vibrant local communities through the radio station and extending through its website and the interactions of its communities. Every youth-targeted radio station is a platform for a unique local social network.
OK, back to 2016. Does it seems as though nothing has changed from 2006? Millennials have the same needs for new music discovery, yet radio seems to only care about moving the PPM needle with arcane programming tactics. Millennials can see right through commercial radio’s smoke and mirrors. They’re not fooled, and now they have many choices and don’t hesitate to use them. They know most new music radio stations only play a small number of songs over and over. Radio listening is the lowest among youngest listeners, many of whom have discovered music without radio as part of their mix.
Will radio ever care?