I often wonder when listening to radio, why there aren't more talk show hosts in their teens and twenties? Because I am young, I've realized age has become as much a barrier in an industry that's marginally a lot more seasoned. But perhaps that's why so many young people have retreated to online radio, stopped listening to the AM band and as statistics show, obtain most of their information on their own via the internet. AM radio does not have any young guns voicing the younger generation's concerns enough to connect them back to the AM band.
In the 1970's and 1980's, many media market stations helped cultivate the generation of talent that was emerging to the forefront. Luckily, people like Connie Chung, Joe Franklin and Barry Farber created that same environment for me when they became my mentors. But because of consolidation and program syndication, by in large, many young up-and-coming talk show hosts do not get an opportunity to be cultivated the way they used to be.
Instead, while old-fashioned radio struggles to score with the coveted 18-30 demographic, young people are reinventing it with 21st century technology. In fact, 22 percent of young people spend less time listening to the radio, opting for internet or mobile alternatives (whether it's podcasts, mobile apps, music players, or internet radio) in just 2007. Those numbers have since increased.
This demographic is creating their own playlists and re-organizing their programming schedule the way they want to listen or view it with Pandora, TuneIn, Hulu and Netflix. Soon enough consumers will be able to slot in and pay for only the specific programs they want to listen to or watch; a new pay-per-program system that will eventually be demanded by the next generation, if not, this one.
The lack of ability to adapt to these changes has caused radio industry insiders to wonder how to reattach themselves to new media. Despite having themselves fueled the transition from radio by not providing new talent and perspectives that would usher in listeners, they instead have enhanced the growing generational gap we see in people who listen to radio.
This same audience is the one radio is competing against, without adequate organizations to measure what is being heard over the internet and is poised to overtake old media, unless of course a connection or advancement in technology could bring both worlds together.
Perhaps it's not too late for radio of it can get back to its roots, begin rebuilding the farm team, and support talent that would appeal to an 18-30 demographic. Asking talent to appeal to both the older generation of radio listeners and the new media market would be asking too much, but living in the 21st century means adjusting to all its new capabilities. No generation would be better suited to take on the challenges that radio faces than the one that grew up in this period of change.