Author/s: Dr. Matthew Linfoot, 2018
This report forms the basis of our forthcoming FREE event, Sounding Out: Young People and Radio, Wed 10th October, 2018, in partnership with the British Council. Confirmed speakers incl. Bob Shennan, BBC Director, Radio and Music, Matt Deegan (independent consultant), Camilla Byk (Podium.me), NiccyLogan (Transmission Roundhouse), Andrew Harrison (Remainiacs podcast), Dr. Matthew Linfoot, with others tbc.
The British Council commissioned MusicTank/ University of Westminster to provide insight into UK-wide radio, with a particular emphasis on youth-run and youth-curated content and audiences.
The analysis of the research identifies key trends in recent years, and seeks to explain the interconnected networks that operate through various tiers of the radio and audio industry.
The aim is to uncover further understanding of the ecosystems, including key people, technologies and value chains, in order to support long-term planning and programming by the British Council in Southern Africa and the UK.
- Young people are listening to less live radio each week than their peers, a trend that shows no sign of changing;
- Live radio is still the preferred method, over ‘listen again’;
- Smartphones account for 30% of audio listening for young people, but data charges and restrictions make listening to live radio unattractive;
- The trend towards ‘lean forward’, modular listening (e.g. podcasts) is significant in terms of share of audience, though not necessarily the amount of time spent each week;
- Ownership of voice-activated devices is beginning to have an impact on radio listening;
- Traditional radio institutions are aware of the challenges they face in encouraging young people to listen to the radio in the same way previous generations did;
- Competition for young listeners’ time and attention, in terms of social media and digital entertainment, is one focus;
- The change in consumption habits can be defined by new characteristics for key groups of listeners, whose choice of listening reflects a wide and diverse range of influences;
- There is an emerging strand of hyperlocal, small stations (and digital platforms) which are increasingly tapping into this kind of audience, such as RADAR, NTS and Rinse;
- Routes into radio and audio production continue to diversify;
- Teaching audio skills as part of general media production has superseded traditional radio production in many schools and colleges;
- Universities still offer a route based on participating in traditional format radio stations, though this doesn’t always offer equal opportunity in terms of geography, gender, ethnicity and (dis)ability;
- Small, local stations based in communities are offering workshops and training opportunities to engage with their listeners and generate new volunteers;
- Media organisations are also diversifying into skills-based training, harnessing technology to work on different platforms and enable engagement with audio in general.
British Council; Publ. 2018