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Shock horror: Ofcom reveals kids don’t listen to radio. Now will Radio 1 change its stance?

Blog post by Andrew Teacher

New figures showing young people prefer music streaming sites to the radio for discovering new music should be a wake up to BBC Radio 1.

The station has made a big play for some time around focusing on attracting “younger” listeners. It’s culled many of its experienced older DJs replacing them with talentless twerps like Nick Grimshaw, but to what success?

To a large extent, programmes like the Breakfast Show will always attract high listener numbers no matter what presenter is there. Yet, regardless over what airbrushed face gets pumped out through corporate propaganda, the fact that the network still seems to focused on advertising-led demographics rather than substance is worrying.

The station plays such a crucial role in the music industry that playlisting on the station can make or break a career. But unsurprisingly, while 18 remains the most common age of a Radio 1 listener, station controller Ben Cooper revealed earlier this year its average age still remains stuck at 32.

And with radio more of a workplace preserve than streaming sites, it’s no wonder this is the case.

Ofcom’s new report says 30% of young people choose to listen to music via streaming services such as Spotify and Deezer, over 24% who listen to music via the radio.

However, 65% of 25-34 year olds listen to the radio compared to just 4% listening to music through streaming sites. The data was found by monitoring the listening habits of 17,290 Brits over one week.

While my personal dose of radio music comes via BBC 6 Music these days, this is largely on account of it possessing much of the ‘discovery appeal’ it did when I grew up listening to Radio 1 during the 1990s. Music was indeed in a state of flux as alternative acts moved over to claim mainstream status. But regardless of this, there was a heavy focus on showcasing emerging talent.

Rather than following trends, it’s surely the role of Radio 1 to inform and lead them and not simply tick the box for temporary fashion and fickle fads which offer little long-term contribution to the state of the nation’s music.

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