Honey, They Stole My 12-24's

At the Arbitron Fly-In yesterday some much needed straight talk from researchers and consultants about how radio has lost a generation of teens. I had my epiphany a number of years ago when I first began teaching at USC. I couldn't believe that the next generation had such high disregard for radio. I couldn't believe that these young people knew Clear Channel -- almost the way I knew Clear Channel and that they didn't much like what Clear Channel was up to. Even though its late, the public outpouring of what radio did -- or more precisely, didn't do -- to lose an entire generation of 12-24's is healthy for radio. After all, you have to admit that you have a problem before you can solve it. And radio's 12 step program to attract 12-24's should begin with "Hi, my name is radio and I have arrogantly ignored the next generation while I greedily tried to get in on consolidation". Another step might be, "Take one daypart at a time -- create programming that elevates the experience rather than dumb it down". How about, "Admit that you are powerless over iPod, Internet and mobile phones, but never forget that you are the greatest producer of content on this earth -- bar none". And, "Come to believe that a power greater than ourselves can restore us to our sanity". No, not Clear Channel. Local radio. Down and dirty servicing the needs of differing communities. And, "make a list of the young people we ignored and make amends". This means getting to know them first before programming to them. And never forget it's not technology that turned off a generation to radio it was hubris -- ours.