What to do with young people

A student writes from Bournemouth University (which has an excellent radio course), asking for my ’strategy’ for getting young people listening to the radio. He quotes figures that say that there are 8 million 15-24s in the UK, of which 7 million regularly listen to the radio - so 1 million do not. I don’t know whether those figures are right or wrong - though if someone threw those figures at me in a conference, my answer might be “we’re still doing bloody well, then”, before wondering if this is just a wee bit complacent.

I would probably like to think about this rather longer than ten minutes, particularly ten minutes in the passenger seat of a car whizzing over to see my family on this long bank holiday weekend and therefore typing furiously into a Blackberry, but my initial thoughts would be…

  • recognise that young people don’t buy ‘radio sets’ (incidentally, something also increasingly true for the rest of us)

  • work with device manufacturers to ensure that radio is a standard addition in new technology, ideally DAB chips (IP isn’t as scalable as we’d like, FM not as flexible as we’d like). Radio is relatively cheap to add to new technology, free content to get people to use their new toy more, and valued by people when it’s there.

  • make sure radio uses those nice big colour screens in new technology in a relevant and interesting way, because everything else on that device will.

  • ensure the radio has an electronic programme guide, to enable “Sky+ type” services. This will enable your radio to record and timeshift stuff you want. (Do that on memory locked-in to that device if that makes the copyright people feel better).

  • in connection with the above, encourage broadcasters to use their evening/overnight time to experiment with more new programming strands, and invest in future talent

  • personalise the radio experience, or the metadata surrounding it, as far as possible

  • ensure broadcasters invest in content and talent so we have a clear differentiation between ‘radio’ and jukebox services like last.fm

If the events of the last few days have proved anything, it shows a lot of bright radio people inexplicably read this blog - so, any more ideas from anyone?