Broadcast radio began ignoring teens right after Baby Boomers finally moved out of the demo 20 years ago. The only rare exception was the short-lived Alt Rock boom during the Grunge 90s. Yes, Top 40 radio still attracted teen listeners (what choice did they really have?). But, for the most part, radio strategically decided it needed grownup listeners in order to maximize revenues.
Teen radio listeners were accepted by default. Secondary. Most often, teen ratings have been viewed as a negative for a long time.
The rise of the Internet, file sharing, iPods, and Internet radio easily and quickly filled the void created by radio station ignoring teens. Now that the World Wide Web is 15 years old, an entire generation has grown up relying on the Internet, not radio.
What can radio do to begin connecting with current and future teens? And what do teens want?
Well, to start, radio can start appreciating, targeting and programming to teens. But, to do so, it needs to deliver ("broadcast") in a manner teens listen to their modern definition of "radio".
For teens, radio is a digital experience -- fluid, listened to in multiple formats, on multiple devices, time-shifted whenever they want to hear it.
Radio was the original "wireless". Today's teens think of "wireless" in a completely different way. Wireless means something to communicate with -- cellphones, texting, emailing, WiFi, WiMax, Internet-based, fully digital and fully listenable on any and every digital device they own.
Last September, Toronto became one of the first major cities where a major radio broadcaster launched a new radio format available not over the old airwaves...but through the Internet to be heard on the new free city WiFi services.
Here's another new example of what radio could (and should) look like in cities everywhere, as reported in InsideBayArea.com:
If a radio lover were featured on MTV's "Pimp My Ride", his or her car would look very much like the two Scion xBs that Clear Channel's new eChannelMusic was showcasing around San Jose earlier this week.Attitude. Mobile. Edgy. Street.
These were rolling radio stations, although they never use the word "radio".
They were WiFi Internet stations, programmed partly by listeners at www.echannelmusic.com with video screens, blaring waterproof speakers running 24/7, and a computer keyboard and screen and a large microphone in the back seat, from which street DJs could do commentary.
The $40,000 rolling studios are the first stations that the large Clear Channel radio company was programming without actual radio signals.
Remember when radio knew how to do that?
posted by Chris Kennedy @ Sunday, January 21, 2007,