Morning Radio and Millennials

We know that radio’s been losing ground in morning at-home usage for years. Many of us remember our moms having a radio on in the kitchen when we were getting ready for school. But, what if you’re a member of the more recent generation – the generation where the kitchen radio has been replaced by the kitchen television?

In the study of over 2000 Millennials, ages 14-29, that NuVoodoo unveiled last month we asked about the various sources and devices they use before leaving home in the morning. We gave them a list of 20 different sources and devices. It will shock no one that the number one device in the ranking is a smartphone. Most of us sleep with smartphones on our nightstands – and it’s often the first thing we look at in the morning.


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FM radio ranks 8th overall at just a quarter of these 14-29’s – and less than a fifth under age 18. Far more connect with TV in the morning, likely because it’s been the habit in their household growing up. But, it’s troubling that online music sources like Pandora and Spotify edge ahead of FM for these young people. The announcement of coming experimentation with a live-streamed morning show on Facebook and the fact that over half are already using the service before they leave home can’t be good for radio.

Once out of the house, FM radio does climb to the top of the ranking overall, largely based on strength among the “older” females in this sample of young consumers. What’s stunning is how much less reliance there is on FM among the same-aged men in the study. Even if you consider the appearance of AM radio at the bottom of the top ten here, broadcast radio remains a more female-driven medium during the morning commute among these Millennials.


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We’re not going to establish a mass return to the largely bygone habit of having a radio on in the kitchen during the morning any more than newspapers are going to re-emerge as the morning publication of record. But, if we think of our stations and our shows as publishers of great, necessary morning content – and use the available technologies at our disposal – we can reinvent the “radio” morning show.

Maybe the future of the morning show is an app. Strong morning show brands could build and distribute smartphone apps to connect with the show, streaming in real time, post-show access to extended cuts of interviews and replays of bits, on-screen access to survival information, etc.

Maybe the future of the morning show is on TV. Many have been over the years – and some have been quite successful there. The costs involved with producing the video to pair with morning show audio have come down sharply. And possibilities for distributing the video are many and  growing.

Maybe the future of the morning show is distributing the content via Social Media. It’s a dicey proposition since we don’t “own the tracks” here. But, Facebook alone is a huge morning medium for many people – especially young people.

Maybe the future of the morning show is all of these things – and other possibilities not mentioned here. What’s certain is that we need to experiment boldly with new content and new distribution. What’s certain is that to build younger audiences we need to offer both more content options and more connection options.