Public Radio And Millennials

One of the most interesting things about working for Jacobs Media is that we’re a company that is equally comfortable in both the commercial and public radio sectors. We have learned a great deal from each side of the broadcasting aisle, allowing us to share insights with each respective group of radio operators. It wasn’t always this way. Back in college, I did research for East Lansing’s public broadcasting outlets, WKAR-FM and TV. But the foundation of my career was spent in the commercial radio sector.

That was until the year 2000 when the Corporation for Public Broadcasting brought us on board to conduct an industry scan for public radio, analyzing the landscape during those years when emerging technology was in the air, and most broadcasters were grappling to figure out what it all meant.  It was called “The Territory Project,” and it ended up being the equivalent of a PhD dissertation on the state of media at the turn of the century – or millennium.

We never looked back. And over the years, we’ve valued our association with networks like NPR, American Public Media, Public Radio International, and the Public Radio Exchange. We’ve worked closely with numerous local public radio outlets, and we now have eight annual Public Radio Techsurveys under our belt, providing insights to the system about the changing nature of the audience.

These studies continue to reveal a schism in the public radio core audience. The bedrock has traditionally been made up of the massive Baby Boomer audience. They comprise not just the biggest listener group, but also the core of membership and donation – the financial lifeblood of public radio.

But as that audience ages out, and many iconic public radio shows and hosts retire, attention turns to the up and coming generation – Millennials. In many ways, public radio networks and individual stations have done a masterful job adapting to new technology and cutting-edge distribution outlets. Public radio has long led the industry in podcasting, and has been well-situated in the mobile environment with apps, whether on smartphones, tablets, or dashboards.

Platforms like NPR One are perfectly positioned to connect with young listeners, eager to personalize and customize their public radio experience.  Our new Public Radio Techsurvey 8 reveals increasing usage for this innovative app, especially among members of Gen Y.

There are now more Millennials than Baby Boomers – a cold, hard statistical fact of life.  And you’d think that marketers and content creator would be on firmer footing in connecting with this generation.  But there are so many misnomers and misconceptions about these young consumers.  And that hit home for us when we saw this clever video ad for Chevy Cruze that gets everything wrong about Millennials in the process of getting it right.

… read on at

Originally posted by Fred Jacobs at Jacobs Media Strategies
16th August 2016