A startling claim lands on the desk of Vulture Central. Research from London-based marketing agency Frukt raises the verbless question, "Music radio dying?"
On the 80th anniversary of the first disk jockey, Frukt had arrived in undertaker's garb and empty coffin - all but ready to take the DJ away, to be boiled down to horse glue. Frukt has questioned 792 members of the public (over 13) and today reports that "only 22 per cent of 13-15 year olds listen to traditional music radio on a daily basis" ... compared to 52 per cent of over-40s. This narrow age group was also the least reliant on music recommendations from traditional radio, the agency discovered.
From there, using the sort of logic that could permit comic superheroes to leap tall buildings in one bound, Frukt asks -
"In the age of the iPod/iPhone, user-generated content and online filesharing, and in light of XFM’s recent decision to scrap daytime DJs, who, if anyone, is traditional music radio speaking to?"
This smelt so fishy, we decided to investigate further.
First stop, RAJAR, or Radio Joint Audience Research Ltd which conducts the most comprehensive research on UK radio listenership. RAJAR last reported on May 10. Was da yoof deserting radio?
Far from it:
"Among younger listeners, Commercial Radio has seen reach increase by 6% among 15-24s (vs. an increase of 4% for the industry as a whole), this despite the many and varied entertainment options they now have."
If you include the urban pirate stations that so many of the demographic listen to, and the picture is even healthier. But might this be a blip - a temporary respite?
Again, this doesn't appear to be the case.
Radio's share of the audience, compared to other media, is much bigger than it was ten years ago. It's down slightly on 2001, but what's noteworthy about a twelve-year comparison is how little it varies. The figure has barely varied either side of 250,000 listener hours since 1994. Some listeners may be deserting radio, but they're replaced by new listeners.
We asked XFM, a music station aimed at the apparently chasing that vanishing demographic of music-loving youth, if it detected a similar trend? Apparently not, as figures are up 44 per cent quarter on quarter.
So how could Frukt claim there was a "decline", when it failed to cite comparative data? Where was the comparative data that allowed such an inference to be made?
Nowhere, it turned out. When we put the figures to the agency , a PR person explained that the headline was "misleading" Oh.
It turns out that it's another scare story by a New Media agency designed to shock Old Media into parting with their money.
Like so much New Media marketing, it's based on entirely bogus premise. As El Reg has pointed out so many times before - media doesn't work like transport infrastructure, where one technology replaces another - such as when railways made the canals obsolete. New technologies tend to complement older ways of getting stuff. So now we can hear radio through a FreeView-equipped TV, or or a mobile phone. And the web is driving traffic to both TV and radio.
(This advice, as ever, comes free.)
Now why do agencies resort to creating fictional scare stories to help sell their pearls of wisdom. ®