Wednesday, March 21, 2007

So Just Who Are These Younger Listeners?

NPR is planning a new morning show aimed at 25-44 year old listeners. WNYC, with several partners, is planning a new morning show aimed at 25-44 year old listeners.

I'm interested in your comments on this.

Who are these 25-44 year-olds we're going after? Since they are supposed to be new listeners, you can assume they are not currently listening to Morning Edition.

  • From which competitors will public radio steal them?
  • What do we have to say to them that we are not saying today?
  • What value are we adding to their lives, not just their mornings, that will cause them to financially support us? Or will they?
  • Are they well-educated?
  • Do they have kids?
  • Is it an ethnically diverse group? And how do we know they will be?
  • What do they care about?
What do you think?

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Anonymous samuli said...

I´m one of those youngsters and I don´t know why I would need new kind of Morning Show. I like the current one because all those qualities it has...

I fear that "show for younger audience" means more showbiz news and stupid banter about something stupid.

9:25 AM  
Anonymous man who's an npr fan said...

I echo samuli's comment.

I don't think NPR is really asking themselves any of John's astute questions. If they were, they'd immediately realize that targeting the 25-44 demo is retarded because listeners at the low end of that range are completely different from the listeners at the high end. I know you gotta draw the line in the sand somewhere...but I'd narrow that a LOT more - maybe 25-35, tops.

Although frankly I don't see the point in going after those listeners. They don't have the disposable income that people who give to fundraisers need. Most of them are drowning in college loans' debt anyway...and the ones who didn't attend college are going to be alienated by public radio's inherent snootiness (which it will ALWAYS have no matter how hard it tries).

I can't quite answer your first question, but I can say this: every single one of my professor friends who teaches communications has been asking their students if they have a radio and no less than 99% say "no". Not too many have been correcting for "clock radios" but it would seem that students are using them for radio - just for the alarm and/or radio for 5 minutes to wake up to.

This tells me that NPR pursuing a new radio initiative to get younger listeners is a dead-end strategy. Instead they should be trying other technologies and marketing via other means.

You know, NPR could rig up a crappy webcam in their studio at the host, and set it up to record each news story/segment...never more than 5-8 minutes (ideally less than two minutes)...and then automatically post it to YouTube. Doesn't matter if the video quality is crap, all you're doing is getting your content out in a viral method.

12:55 PM  
Blogger RadioSutton said...

I have less of an issue with radio initiatives because 95% of the 25-44 demo uses radio and average of nearly 20 hours per week. There's a big market out there. And most anything on the radio can translate to the web.

But public radio is doing quite well with 25-44 year olds.
According to Arbitron's Public Radio Today, about 10% of all 25-44 year olds already listen to public radio and they spend about 6.5 hours per week listening to us. That's much better than public radio did 20 years ago among the same age group.

85% of the demo is using radio in a typical week, but not public radio.

It's a bit alarming that no one is articulating who they are and how a public service service need is filled by reaching them.

I'm not saying there isn't a public service need. I just find it interesting that goals are being articulated in terms of media platforms and demographics minus the mission.

3:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Columnist Alex Beam in the Boston Globe noted that the new program would use "news hounds" to report for the new show. What about 'news hens'? Is this Zoo News for aging teens or His Girl, Friday?

4:23 PM  
Blogger David said...

I am one of these younger listeners (actually, I'm younger than their younger listeners since I'm only 24). I've been listening for almost 10 years and many of my friends listen to public radio, too. I (and my friends) are college-educated and yes most are swimming in debt, but when we are older we will have the extra income to donate, so on that point I think it makes sense to think about these things.

However, previous attempts at attracting younger listeners have sounded ridiculous. APM did "Pop Vultures" a few years ago, which was terrible. And over the summer I heard a pilot for a comedy-ish PRI show that was also not good.

It sounds like the new program will be a cross between "The World," "Marketplace," and "Weekend America," which I'm looking forward to hearing. But I like Morning Edition -- I watch The Daily Show if I want something funny, but I still want some hard news in the morning. And anyway, it sounds like more recently both ME and ATC have been allowing reporters to try new, creative ways to present their stories.

7:19 PM  
Anonymous Islander84 said...

My take is that because The Daily Show (TDS) is funny AND smart, that it was/is something that is seen (by some in the business) as something that pubcasting missed the boat on. Yes, TDS does have references for those who are well-informed, but, it is irreverent. It plays silly with the news as its mode of operation. While pubcasting should never take itself too seriously the problem is that we have filled a void for perspective and analysis of the news. That often isn't funny.

I don't want to come off as saying that all the attempts to reach a younger audience are an attempt to create the radio companion to TDS. Programmers have been rightly musing out loud about hitting a better percentage of a younger demo since before TDS was a hit (of course we're also talking about TDS with Jon Stewart as few remember TDS with Craig Kilborn at this point).

John rightly points out that by doing what NPR does best it is attracting those younger, brilliant professionals who are rising through the ranks at a suprisingly young age - and I think that's the market we're really talking about here. To think that NPR wants to appeal to gamers or computer-nerds who spend three-quarters of their weekly routine online in their cyberworld might be a bit off.

I find it interesting, John, to see that you posed these thoughts as questions first as I sense there is a statement you want to make behind them. Namely, that NPR (and member stations) is/are starting to do a pretty good job of reaching what most could see as their target in that age group. Heck, maybe 10-15% of that age group is even worth trying to reach with a pubcasting product. Why do we have to try and please everyone? Pubradio has been a force for a couple good decades now, we have seen that people move out of irreverent behavior into more cerebral behavior as they age - I think that's a good thing - AND I think that that might mean that pubcasting so far isn't too terribly far off base by the direction it is heading.

Do we need to keep pushing forward? Absolutely. I am interested to see what the Talent Quest comes up with. Another TAL-type hit would be nice.

As always, good food for thought John, not sure I have the answers, just wanted to share a random thought or two ... keep it coming!

12:37 AM  
Anonymous Islander84 said...


John - what is the 25-44 audience look like in mornings? Seems to me my gut would tell me there would be a better time to reach them as a whole. I know radio listening is highest in that daypart, so, I would expect a fair number, but, is that really the BEST time to appeal to that age group? Or am I showing my age by thinking that a significant portion of that demo would rather sleep until 9am ... LOL ... (just ftr, I am still in that demo, but not by much) ...

1:22 AM  

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