A fortuitous set of circumstances resulted in my spending the bulk of Tuesday in the expansive Gillette Stadium clubhouse with its sweeping view of the former CGI field (if only I could be there during home games, but I can’t spare the kidney required for admission), as a steady stream of new media marketers vigorously beat the social media tom-tom.
A trio of fresh-faced marketers was among those who left an especially strong impression on me. I admired their remarkable poise under the Klieg lights (circumstances under which I would be reduced to a quivering mass) and found their overview of “Millenials” (aka “Gen Y-ers”) intriguing. From the mouths of these babes came words to the effect that a generation weaned on cellphones and the Web consumes content very much on its own terms.
The message: Companies that ignore this do so at their own peril. And It’s not that much of a leap to suggest that WBUR’s future may hinge on its ability to convert these young Facebookers and i-Podders into would-be listeners and supporters.
Dan Kennedy opens an additional window into “millenial” thinking. Kennedy—media commentator, blogger, and Northeastern University journalism professor—recently invited WBUR’s new media director, Robin Lubbock, to the classroom to discuss 90.9 and its various and sundry new media initiatives. And, admirably, Kennedy required his students to blog their reactions to Lubbock’s talk.
Below are some of their responses that I found particularly revealing. And bear in mind this is a sampling of students who are likely more avid news-consumers than typical for their demographic.
In college, I listen to less news radio, mostly because I don’t drive anymore. But I faithfully listen to the This American Life podcast every week, and am a recent convert to WNYC’s RadioLab, which I also listen to via podcast.
Public radio has long been a source for open discourse that involved both experts and everyday listeners, and the WBUR website has that potential. The website is plugged whenever the station identifies itself, but I wonder if listeners will be motivated to get out of their cars and onto the Internet.
I’m dubious about whether the mere act of opening up a news source by allowing people to upload their own photos or add a comment is really going to be enough. I think people have already satiated their need to upload a part of their life onto the web with Facebook and LinkedIn before they think about adding something to their local news source.
But, radio itself has one up on other mediums, in that radio allows listeners to interact more than newspaper and tv by inviting them to call in. It’s an instant connection between the news makers covered and consumers. Online this connection is made, but there is a lag time and it’s not as personal. Maybe that will be radio’s saving grace.
I don’t know much about radio, but I do know that I see iPods every couple of steps I take, and I see everyone using laptops these days, surfing the web. News organizations in general should view this as a resource, not an encumbrance…
Some of the features WBUR and other sites are using can be very helpful and interactive, but I don’t think that’s nearly enough to save the industry. I consider myself a big-time listener of radio, and internet features rarely intrigue me to the point of actually visiting the site. If I don’t care to visit the site, why would people who are only casual listeners visit the station’s website?
If a station like WBUR is fearful of losing listeners due to new additions like Satellite Radio, because of NPR content, it should remember who it is. It’s a Boston radio station. If it always sticks to its roots of having Boston-based content, it will always have a niche. Sure, it can try and reach more people with national content, but sooner or later, something needs to stand out.
I am a 21 year-old college senior (journalism major) at Northeastern University. How often do I listen to the radio for news? Not often and by that I mean rarely. Yes, I will if I am driving or stuck in traffic. I’ll tune into the a.m. to hear some debating on talk radio. But the radio isn’t my first, second, or third choice. I depend on three news outlets on a daily basis: t.v., the internet, and newspapers. I think my tendencies reflect the majority of my peers (18-25), although I’m sure some people are familiar with the advancing technology of radio on the web.
So what should we conclude? Should we be worried, relieved, or a bit of both?