Radio turns 90 but are young people tuning in or dropping out?

The first thing to note is that young people do listen to the radio and always have done; they are just listening for less nowadays.    On average, 15-24 year olds listen to the radio for 17 hours a week, compared with 22 hours for the population as a whole.  But radio, which turned 90 last week, is a medium that has always been favoured by the older generation, so what is the concern?

There has always existed an expectation that people grow into radio.  The big unknown today is whether the lower radio consumption of the younger generation will be maintained as they get older.

Stations are attempting to tackle this by recognising that the route to bringing young people back to live radio listening is to maximise the digital footprint of their brands.  They see that total brand reach is more important than simply the live listening audience; it is about relevance.  It should also be noted from RAJAR that 15-24s are 21% more likely than the population as a whole to listen to the radio via a digital platform and that 22% of 15-24s listen to the radio via online or mobile apps compared with 12% of all adults.  A mobile and social media presence will help boost brand engagement, loyalty and accessibility.

A question mark still hangs over how businesses can monetise social media sentiment, particularly if they do not increase a rating.  But one should not underestimate the power of the collective.  Crowdsourcing, viral marketing and tribal participation will keep young people very much engaged in radio.

No one can predict the future and we are fools to try.  But I can’t help but think that mobile and social media will have a big role to play in getting young people listening to more radio for at least the next 90 years.

John Carroll is Senior Director in Ipsos MediaCT and Chairman of the Media Research Group (follow John on Twitter @MediaCarroll)