The always-interesting Katz Media Group report on National Format Averages and share trends has just been released. These surveys are always valuable tools that help us measure where formats - and the entire radio business, for that matter - are heading.
For those of us who work with the Rock formats exclusively, these Katz studies are also a great way for us to catch up with what's going on in CHR, Country, Adult Contemporary, Talk, and other arenas in which we don't compete. We encourage you to check out the entire report at katz-media.
One line that stood out to us was authored by the study's author, Lisa Chiljean, the Director of Media Research for Clear Channel Katz Advantage. Noting that for nearly all the formats that have a youth skew - not just Rock or Alternative - she reports that almost all are showing declines. And Chiljean concludes, “There could be a number of factors at work causing these shifts, including changing lifestyles among young adults, the availability of a wider variety of media options, and increased multi-tasking or simultaneous usage of media.”
It all sounds too familiar. On the one hand, we wrestle with formats like Alternative and Active/Mainstream to help make their demographics more appealing for revenue generation. On the other, we move away from the business of appealing to America's youth - and the results continue to become more and more alarming as time goes on.
It's a short-sighted philosophy, of course, and it can only be reversed when radio's chiefs commit a number of properties to recapturing radio's alienated young listeners. It requires taking some risks to be sure, but if radio is to become competitive again with teens and college-aged listeners, it will need to take that fourth or fifth FM loser in many clusters, and take the plunge. These strategies need to be focused on bringing back 12-24s to the medium - not just listeners, but a young, qualified workforce of young people as well.
Of course, this will be one of many topics that we'll be discussing with NAB's new CEO, David Rehr, at Jacobs Media's Summit 11 in Dallas on September 19-20. Radio's lack of younger listeners has clearly become a problem for the medium that continues to manifest itself in many disturbing ways.