American Youth Study 2010

Radio’s future lies with the critical 12-24 year-olds, and according to a recent report by Edison Research, there’s good news and bad news. First the bad. Despite all the industry hype and promotion, only four out of ten 12-24s have even heard of HD radio. Now the good. They’re listening on mobile devices such as cell phones.

12-24 year old cell users engage in a broad variety of behaviors on phones, with 18 percent listening to Internet-only radio such as Pandora, and 16 percent listening to the streams of terrestrial stations. They spend about three hours per day on the Internet, and much less listening to the radio.

More good news. Radio remains the leading source for learning about new music, with friends and YouTube coming in second and third. In fact, radio streams are referenced by more than a third of 12-24s as a source for new music. Its strengths are the hits, new music and to find out what’s popular. About 60 percent of respondents enjoyed hearing personalities and DJs along with the music. Over the past decade, today’s 22-34 year olds have grown away from Rap and Rock, and show a preference to Top 40, Country and Christian.

The biggest challenge for stations seeking to hold on to the 12-24 demographic comes from innovative new Internet technologies¬† such as Pandora. One in three have tried it, and the numbers are growing. Pandora has a self-reported 13 percent weekly cume, more than all other Internet and AM/FM streams combined. Its most popular features are the ones that make it different from radio, especially the ability to create ‘radio stations’ based on favorite songs or artists and the ability to skip songs.

The report makes several recommendations. More stations need to actively pursue this demographic, or watch it fade away. Consumers and advertisers still see radio as a youth medium, but owners, not so much.

Internet audio is essential, but it must go beyond streaming the on-air product. Study Pandora and steal the best ideas. The industry needs to work together . Standardization and co-ordination can create multiplier effects. Finally, a challenge to HR, recruit more young people to work in the radio industry.

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