I must admit I'm stumped.
I've seen enough research over the last few months that has been predicting radio's woes for years. I saw a study originally released in 1999 that projected that 12-21 year olds of that year would be significantly alienated by traditional radio by 2005. While its specific time-spent-listening projections were off, the point was well-taken: terrestrial radio was not catering to this generation and by 2005 the 12-21 year olds of then (the 19-28 year olds of today), there would be striking changes to terrestrial radio because that generation would be losing interest.
'99 was the year of Napster, you'll recall, and though their P2P model eventually blew up, the damage had been done. The youth market was beginning to salivate over their power: getting what they wanted, when they wanted - on demand; they didn't need traditional radio.
I'm stumped because confirmation studies by this company (Bridge Ratings) and other highly respected radio research organizations during 2006 show conclusively that company operators, general managers and programmers have ignored the signs first seen 6-7 years ago and continue to shield their minds from the reality.
Are there any operators out there today who have the guts and conviction to try to win back these lost demographics?
"Why should we, Dave?" I hear you say. You think that the youth are gone and can't be salvaged so why try?
There are three potential reasons traditional radio has lost its way:
1. They are in denial
2. They don't know what to do about the attrition or are operationally unable to do anything
3. They don't care
Which do you think it is?
As we consider that another year has come and gone, the radio industry can look back on a year where, as a whole, radio stations began to rise to the challenge of all the new media surrounding it. The industry also now knows that it will be an up hill battle to slow the attrition that has seeped into Gen X and Gen Y; that these generations are not leaving because satellite radio is the answer or even that MySpace, Facebook or the iPod has changed communication forever.
The industry must accelerate its most aggressive tactics now - embrace as many new technologies as it can, reallocate its resources to support the understanding that it is a content business and that terrestrial radio is the best at creating content 24/7.
So, which of the three reasons listed above pinpoints the foundation of the lethargy the radio industry finds itself in?