Not that it’s much of a surprise, but Canadians are listening to less radio, especially younger demographics 12 to 17 and 18 to 24. I’ve been saying this for some time now. Statistics Canada has all the numbers. Michael Geist agrees.
I worked in the radio industry for ten years before going freelance. I noticed the change in the early part of the decade, around 2000 or 2001. The response to contests was dwindling and the people I was talking to on the phones were over 35. Programmers never cared about people under 25 because they had no money. But the problem is, they will have money eventually and if you don’t form listening habits when they are young, you’ll never get them. Not only that but the money young people have (especially the ones living at home), is almost completely discretionary.
I remember many conversations with other radio guys and I pointed out that by the time the decrease shows up in ratings and surveys and other metrics, it will be too late. Well, now it’s finally showing up. Radio stations are always so focused on competition with other stations in the market, when in fact their biggest competitors are other forms of entertainment. Video games, television, YouTube, the iPod, computers…the list goes on and on. All of these things are contributing to the decline in radio listenership. Many stations haven’t been paying attention to anyone under 35 for years, and they are paying a price today. Music playlists are stale, old and repetitive.
I’m no longer in the business because nobody wanted to listen to my views on how much trouble radio was in. Now stations should be begging someone like me for their input. I’m not alone, many former and current radio guys saw this coming back when I did. Maybe they will start listening when those valuable ad dollars start migrating away from broadcast radio (and television), to online services. People have been predicting the death of radio for years and it hasn’t happened yet, and won’t happen completely for some time to come. But there’s no question, the disruption has begun.