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A Glimpse into Radio’s Future, courtesy of the Zandl Group

The Zandl Group is one of America’s foremost consumer insights experts and trend forecasters, specializing in “what’s next” for business with special focus on the youth and young adult markets.

I talked to Zandl Group's Anna D'Agrosa about the future of radio in the young adult market.

There were at least three interesting elements in our conversation:

First, Anna maintained that young people "are listening to more radio than ever." And it took me a while to realize that by "radio" she meant all forms of radio – satellite, terrestrial, podcasting, and especially Internet. They are, in other words, interchangeable to that audience. Thus they should be interchangeable to you, your station, and your strategic plan.

Second, despite thousands of panel interviews, Anna had never heard of HD Radio.

Third, Anna spoke of the ongoing need for radio's role as a "curator," (something that Jim McGuinn has mentioned in this blog before). That is, it's not just an impersonal mix of songs, there's a selection that's real and guided and knowledgeable and personal. While I think this is real and true, what's also real and true is that there is very little of this left on the radio. And most formats and most audiences neither demand nor expect this much T.L.C. with their hits.

The "curator" role holds best, I think, for stations and formats aimed at fans of music. Those who appreciate and value expertise. And this, folks, is not for all tastes.

Finally, Anna noted how important it was for a radio station to have, in her words, “a strong point of view.” This is what listeners seek out, especially in a time when so many choices are redundant. Does your station have a strong “point of view”? Because it should.

I strongly recommend you listen to this voice from Radio's future.

And respond accordingly.

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