Would Today’s Youth Miss Radio if it Went Away?

courtesy Mark Ramsey, Dec. 4 2014

In an article aptly titled “Young People Don’t Care About Newspapers, Old People Don’t Care About Smartphones,” Business Insider quoted an Ofcom study contrasting the responses of persons 16-24 to folks 75 and over.

The question? “What media would you miss the most?”

And here’s the chart:


BI writes:

People between the ages of 16 and 24, for example, would not blink an eye if newspapers and magazines went extinct; smartphones are the “must-have” device of the younger generation. The breakdown among all adults shows a much stronger craving for TV over smartphones and computers, and the older generations (those over 75) don’t care much about computers and have absolutely no problem living without smartphones.

They skip over the findings for radio, so I’ll tackle them here.

But first, since I do research for a living for many of the audio industry’s top brands, you can believe me when I tell you that this is an extremely flawed question.

Just a few reasons why:

  • Hypothetical questions like this one yield hypothetical responses. We could as easily ask what their favorite media would be in the presence of a zombie apocalypse.
  • The list of options is anything but comprehensive. “Smartphone,” for example, does not include “tablet,” does it? Whole categories are presumed not to exist.
  • What’s being evaluated here are not really “media,” they are media distribution channels. TV content lives on a smartphone as does radio content. So does that qualify as “Smartphone” or “TV”? Where, for example, do Pandora and Spotify live? In the “smartphone” category, right? But why? These are audio platforms that complement or substitute for the distribution channel called “radio.” This is a dumb rookie mistake, if you ask me. Researcher heads should roll.
  • “Smartphone” is much more than a media device, so what you “miss” there is much more than media. Ditto for “Computer.” Respondents are reading in layers of value that go well beyond the intent of the crappy question.

With all that said, I do think there might be something to take away from this question.



mark ramsey

is a veteran media strategist, researcher, and trend-maker

Ramsey has consulted with and delivered projects for numerous media, publishing, and digital brands over his career, including Apple, iHeartMedia (Clear Channel), Pandora, CBS, Bonneville, Sirius XM, U-T San Diego, EA Sports, and more.

Ramsey has authored two radio industry bestsellers, Making Waves: Radio on the Verge and Fresh Air: Marketing Gurus on Radio. His blog at Mark Ramsey Media is among the most popular in audio entertainment and information industry, and he is a popular speaker at radio and related industry events.

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