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What Radio Needs to Know About Millennials


If you were born in the 80’s or 90’s, you’re in your late teens to early 30’s today. You are also a digital native and quite unlike older folks, including the older folks running the radio business.

That explains why these older folks don’t know a lot about you – only what Nielsen tells them – only what radio their PPM devices are exposed to – and not much else.

But oh, there’s much more to know. And it’s terribly important for the future of an industry that must maintain its relevance as generations come and go.

That’s why I talked with psychologist, professor, and author Jean Twenge about the new edition of her book Generation Me – Revised and Updated: Why Today’s Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled–and More Miserable Than Ever Before


In this Q&A, Jean discusses the trends that are shaping the media usage of millennials, including the drive to digital first and the preference for personalization and interactivity.

While these are not new topics, they are ones that most radio brands have still largely failed to grapple with.

Why, for example, is there so little emphasis on on-demand content when millennials are taking to on-demand like bees to honey?

Why can’t listeners customize their favorite radio brands? Why, for example, can I use iHeartRadio to create a custom station or listen to an existing linear station, but I can’t customize the linear station – the brand I love – my way?! Wouldn’t the idea of customizing your favorite brands be inherently more appealing than building a radio station from scratch?

Why can’t fans stop, start, and rewind radio listening the way they control video on a DVR (on TuneIn, I can)?

Why is user-generated content rarely featured on radio brands?

Why are several radio formats (ahem, News/Talk) so resistant to change, and will audiences ever “grow into” these formats? (Hint: Not unless these formats change – a lot, says Twenge).

Sure, there are business model considerations with all these features. And yes, one of the obstacles may be cost. But audiences don’t care what it costs to make them happy. They only care to find the brands that do it.

To one degree or another there are brands that try to solve the above problems with mixed success. But the spotlight is definitely not on these brands. Why not?

If your radio brand targets millennials or the audience that millennials will grow into, then you should watch this Q&A.

If you’re a News/Talk brand, it will worry you – as it should. If you’re a Christian broadcaster, it may worry you, too (for other reasons).

And if you’re thinking that folks will want to consume their audio content in the years to come the same way they always did, think again.

Prefer audio?

Try this: 

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