Millennials - They Still Love Radio, but Are They Paying Attention?

I’m lucky to be back in Columbus, Ohio - my hometown - I spend a lot of time with family, especially nieces and nephews and their friends. 

The other day, I was “volunteered” to transport three of my niece’s girlfriends from campus to a “secret party location” (that way they would be forced to spend the night or safely Uber home.) They all piled in the backseat and begged to stop at the gas station on the way for cigarettes and six-packs (they were all old enough and uncles don’t judge.)  Once we got on the road they were excited to ask me questions and talk about music and radio.  

“We love radio.. we listen all the time, it’s free and this one station plays great music.  The Blitz - can we listen to the Blitz?”  

I wasn’t surprised.  As their website states -  “99.7 The Blitz WRKZ Columbus Ohio is an active rock radio station featuring artists like Metallica, Nirvana, Korn, Soundgarden, Disturbed and Tool.” Not my cup of tea, but I was just the chauffeur, so I flipped it on and started to ask some questions when I was interrupted.  

“No not that station, The Blitz - 96.3”  
I tried to show off my radio knowledge - “Are you sure? The Blitz is 99.7..”
“No, no we listen every morning.. it’s 96.3, the station that plays the really good old rock music.” 

WLVQ, known by older listeners as QFM96, was one of the original “classic rock” stations, switching from Beautiful Music in 1977 (first song - Eagles “New Kid in Town”).  I switched the radio to the girl’s delight as they heaped praise on Billy Idol and Aerosmith.  

“This is great music, we love it.”  
“Thanks, Mark.  I listen in the morning to that guy with that comedian and that other girl, it’s pretty funny.”

And we spent the rest of the trip grooving to Van Halen, Boston and David Bowie as they put on their makeup and scowled at me because I wouldn’t let them smoke in my car.  

Did not see a PPM device hanging off anyone’s purse, so I’m not sure it affected the Columbus March monthly coming out this week.  (And WRKZ does not subscribe, so I won’t be able to compare anyway.)  I wanted to know so much more about their media use and awareness but we arrived at the party. They thanked me profusely and merrily went on their way as I sat in the driveway more than a little puzzled.  

Perhaps Nielsen is right, AM/FM radio does reach the vast majority of 18 to 34 year olds. (As one young lady said - “I hate Pandora, it plays a lot of slow songs and uses too much data.”)  And PPM seems more important than ever to get things right.  But to me the big takeaway is we might get better music and perceptual research by hiring Uber drivers to ask questions instead of phone calls.  


  1. The Millenials are paying attention?Yeah right!

  2. It's not as simple is who's paying attention. It's an ongoing branding issue that's plagued our industry from day one, and once consolidation reared its ugly head it only got worse. "Why should we market? We own all the competition." This is a perfect example of why. If WLVQ's brand were better known - even to millennials-that confusion wouldn't exist. Naming the personalities-especially the morning show-shouldn't be an issue. Just having a great product isn't enough. Just ask Pepsi, whose brand has (allegedly) won taste test after taste test -and yet still Coke has a larger market share . Same with McDonald's and (insert the name of the #2 fast food provider). Marketing. Back in the day while beginning a new job with a market icon's competition, I had a conversation with a new neighbor. When asked where I worked, he said "that's not MY station"...and he proudly proclaimed our competition as his favorite. They were the media branding and marketing kings of that market. Funny that their dominance has diminished lately (as has their competition-because their marketing was reduced.


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