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  • Matt Cundill

A Visit With the Millennials.

Updated: Dec 11, 2019


Last week I had the joy of speaking to high schoolers about the history of radio. With all presentations, I like to conclude by asking anyone if they have any questions about my picturesque PowerPoint that always keep teenagers engaged when a guest speaker comes in on a Friday afternoon. When no one asked any, I took the liberty of asking a few as a conversation starter:


Q: "Who here listens to the radio?"

Every hand went up except for one. The one person who did not put up their hand had already identified themself as a musician and wanted to be on the radio.

Q: "Can you remember who you listened to on the radio?"

One morning show host and one local classic hits stations was named.

Q. "Why do you listen to the radio?"


To hear new music and because my parents have it on in the car.

What I was hearing from these students is exactly what is going on in the radio business today. An incredible reach with very little attachment to what is being broadcast. It is really easy to blame their generation for not loving radio, but it is really their fault? The answers were actually inside the presentation I had just made.

Radio has been a mainstay in people's lives because of "emotional connection" and "portability". When people needed FDR's comforting words throughout the depression and Second World War, it was radio that delivered it. When the car radio became standard, the experience became portable. Today that portability truly lives on, but is radio providing the emotional connection?

Before the turn of the century, music was an easy and effective way to bond with listeners. No rock station? Just play rock music and get the right personalities in play. The problem today is music has always been a commodity. It has been devalued to such a low level that your station is in a liability position by playing devoid of an element of "discovery" or "entertainment". The song on the radio used to cost $21.99 at HMV, then it became $1.29 on iTunes, it can be leased for near nothing on Spotify and Pandora, and an app a teacher showed me on the weekend that one of his student's made, makes the music totally free. (Watch the Dragon's Den Episode Here)


I know this comes as a shock to those who just re-branded their station by getting a few voiceover liners and a library of music that was already available on another station, but what you did is paramount to a struggling local business altering the wallpaper in the store, and hoping to sell more widgets.

The fact is that radio stopped trying to attached themselves to 12-24 year old's in the early 90's. However, the supply of music kept them in tune. So we can forgive radio people for not knowing how to connect to young people; the last personalities and programmers who did that are long gone. Today, Millenials have that emotional connection - but it is to their phone. No worries - chances are good your station is available on their phone, but have you told them how to listen to you?

Is your station's best content available after the show?

Are you sharing the availablity of the best material after the show on all forms of social media?

Are personality's engaging with listeners after the show?

Are personality's sharing their lives online or is social media just something they do at work?

Are you promoting the many ways people can listen to your station online?


Another mistake radio stations make is not providing a link to download the TuneIn App instead of just your station app? Keeping them involved in the medium as a whole is more worthwhile than offering another app listeners won't remember they downloaded.

The radio ideal to "go where your listeners are" has never been more true. So make yourself available on their terms.

Any questions? Just click the blackboard.

Matt Cundill is a radio consultant who works with radio stations of all market sizes in Canada and the United States, creating ON AIR and ONLINE marketing strategies that make branding and selling sense to your company.


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