Radio Research Paradox
Been conducting some informal research of late about radio consumption and the one thing that keeps getting mentioned as the main driver for radio is the opportunity to find new bands, tunes etc. that you would not otherwise find out about [unless you have an array of friends who are all heavily into different musical genres].
The other main thing I’ve noticed amongst those I’ve spoken to is that people when asked to express a favourite musical genre, couldn’t. They reeled off names of bands, traversing the traditional boundaries of genre. Then they invariably said their musical tastes were "eclectic".
If this small sample of the listening public were representative [and frankly, does it matter? ] radio stations [channels, whatever] should be being brave and playing a more eclectic mix. However, more and more stations, let alone programmes are now becoming more niche [though BBC 6 Music is pretty varied]. That is a result of the long tail phenomenon I guess, though broadcast radio costs are relatively low which has meant there’s always been a lot of radio stations catering to niche audiences [both geographically and editorially], only now there are more – look at the ultra-local radio stations around on restricted licenses [e.g. Malibu FM for 28 days only in Newquay!] and very niche online ‘radio’. But this plethora of niche or ‘narrow’ stations would then make you think that people would shift around more programmes and radio stations to get the variety they obviously like? But from the research I did [and it was all quick and dirty] people only had a repertoire of two or three they could name and actively listened to.
Odd, no? So perhaps there is a paradox here. Perhaps in the drive to define ourselves and be defined by what we consume the producers of media are pigeon-holing us when what we want is more variety and eclecticism in the mix.
What we could be seeing of course is the move toward a unique expression of a myriad of influences. We are no longer ‘mods’ or ‘rockers’ or member of different ‘tribes’ but seek to draw upon a wide variety of influences to find and express our own unique ‘me’.
My initial research seems to be backed up by Neo-Radio in the States which has cottoned on to this desire for more eclectic playlists:
A new style of commercial FM radio station
— based on eclectic music and informed commentary — represents a
backlash against the rest of the industry’s consolidation, narrow
playlists, and copycat sounds. Stations that have tried the new format
have shot up the charts.
Be interesting to see what happens over here.