Millennials Now Outnumber Baby Boomers

75.3 million born between 1981 and 1997 – more than 75 million of the surviving Baby Boomers (1946-1964).

Baby Boomers are beginning to die in great numbers but an influx of immigrants according to a new Pew Survey is keeping their number around 75 million.

Arguably, deciding who has what tendencies is an art form beyond demographers.

Is a 50-year-old the same as a 68-year-old?

Does an 18-year-old think the same as a 33-year-old Millennial?

Obviously, not – so there could be as many as 95 million Millennial-leaning people on either side of the cutoff point. Same is true of older Gen Xers who find themselves thinking more like Boomers than Xers.

What a mess for radio.

The radio industry doesn’t pay attention to audience. They just defend the Radar number that over 200 million people listen to a radio every week. Too bad. Now it’s going to hurt.

Millennials don’t like Boomers.

They don’t like the way they are stereotyped by Boomers (which is true in my opinion). They want more respect.

My God, this is generational war like when Baby Boomers took on their Greatest Generation and Silent Gen parents on Vietnam, race relations, drugs and rock and roll.

But then, radio was leading the charge – spawning a new generation of listeners on the same radio dial that played big band and beautiful music for their parents.

Now, the radio is all that Boomers have left even though 15 million in that 75 million count are immigrants with few format choices on the radio.

And Millennials want more power – more influence. They want to be understood and they don’t have to bargain with media companies or anyone else for that matter because they have strength in numbers.

They are now the largest generation ever born.

They also live in an era of digital connectivity and social media which is why radio and other traditional media companies look so pathetic when they try to act younger.

Take what WOR did yesterday.

They try to do a morning show that will attract younger Xers with the addition of Len Berman and Todd Schnitt.

Lots of luck with that and Berman is a sports guy, which tells me that iHeart is leaving their options open for WOR down the line.

My greatest gift – and I mean this – was to be forced by a Clear Channel non-compete when I sold Inside Radio to them not to work in radio for four years. So, I accepted an appointment at USC to become a professor of music industry. There I got to know and love Millennials.

They are not self-absorbed – we all are today.

They don’t have A.D.D. to their own peril, their parents own DVRs because they can’t wait to get through the commercials and content.

It’s that we have all changed and Boomers have grown old and out of touch.

But for those who want to see things differently, Millennials are a great source of inspiration. A Millennial designed my Inside Music Media website. Who knew a Millennial thought I could get $99 for a subscription when my contemporaries were giving it away for free. And a 24-year-old runs it. I listen to them because I stop learning when I stop listening.

So what am I getting to?

Take a look at the 10 issues that are killing radio today and try to think of ways Millennials would solve these critical problems. Ask them. Or ask those who study them.

That’s what we’re going to do at my next conference in Philly in less than two months.

How to talk to the majority audience of Millennials differently.

How to stop guessing at what they want.

How to have the courage to actually do it when it flies in the face of Baby Boomer “wisdom”.

We can make a real difference not by doing the same things, but also by drilling down with innovative thinking on these following ten problems that must be solved to have a positive outcome in 2015.

  1. Too Many Commercials – How spots are scheduled can make a difference.       Also, the length of spots in each stop set. There is much that can be done. To proceed as is is not a solution.
  2. Unremarkable Programming For 70 Million Baby Boomers – All the focus is on young money demo Millennials. Baby boomers have been radio’s most loyal listeners but that’s changing now. Ignore baby boomers, target them or better yet discover what the two disparate groups have in common.  
  3. Outdated Morning Shows – They like personalities but increasingly they don’t like much else about morning shows.  Focus on three new features to replace traffic, time checks and weather. Yes, they don’t need them. But consider these three potent options to replace tired old staples of morning radio. (And you can sell them!)
  4. Music That Is Too Repetitive – Audiences have hated music repetition on radio for decades but they had few alternatives. Not so anymore. Two new strategies show promise. One adds more new music without watering down the hits. The better approach is to rip up the traditional playlist and present the music differently.
  5. No Compelling Reason To Listen Longer – Radio TSL has been down every year since the early 90’s. Under 30’s don’t even listen to any song all the way through even though music radio is built on the assumption that if you play the right songs, the audience will stay tuned in. Now, there is a way to keep listeners from straying and it isn’t longer music sweeps.
  6. Don’t Like the Way Stations Talk To Them – Sounds dated, insincere. Too much bragging and hype. It all sounds like radio is out of touch. Talking down to listeners whether we mean to or not.  Surprising words that turn off young audiences when used on the air, in promos, sweepers, imaging and commercials. Learn them and overcome this objection.
  7. Radio Is Not Authentic – Demographers have discovered 5 things that Millennials crave. Do these 5 things every hour of every day and radio becomes more relevant to the 95 million members of this age group.  One of the 5 things they crave is more authenticity. Learn the fastest way to master being truly authentic to Millennials but also the four other expectations that radio is currently not meeting.  They are screaming this out for you to hear.
  8. Lack of Music Variety and Customization – Spotify, Pandora and YouTube are killing radio when it comes to variety and customization. There may be no way to compete with that, but audiences are beginning to tell us what these streaming services are lacking presenting a great opportunity for responsive radio stations to do what streaming services cannot do.
  9. Outdated News and Talk – Two staple radio formats are seeing audiences erode or attracting unsellable aging demographics.  News stations don’t just sound like their father’s radio station – they sound like their grandfathers radio station. Droning on and on with sleepy features designed for station sales managers not for listeners to crave. Conservative talk is also over because audiences want compromise not red meat. And Progressive talk radio never really worked. It’s a no-win. But spoken word is something young Millennials like, really like – here is the spoken word station of the future (bring an open mind).
  10. Don’t Know Where the AM Band Is – Think about it. There’s nothing for audiences under 60 on AM. So you may be thinking that younger money demos won’t listen to an AM station, right? True, unless … well, I’ll show you a number of things you could do on two tin cans hooked together with a string that Millennials would eat up.  Will you take that challenge?  Because I’m going to do it and you’re going to want to brainstorm on it. Forget the FCC. AM needs to disrupt FM the way FM disrupted AM.

PLUS, What Audiences REALLY Want In Digital Content …

There is nothing worse than doing something well that doesn’t need to be done at all. Some stations are doing impressive digital initiatives that audiences simply don’t care about.

Instead, drill down on what listeners really want in digital and get a better return on your investment in time and money:

  1. Storytelling Instead of Podcasting
  2. Short-Form Video Revenue Stream
  3. Non-hyped Social Media Beyond Facebook and Twitter
  4. Content Audiences Can Binge on Just Like They Do Netflix
  5. Apps Not Websites (and That Includes Radio)

This is a day worth your time and investment.

A clearly defined agenda, creative and innovative solutions to apply and a forum to discuss and hitchhike on new ideas that you hear.

Independent broadcasters and digital entrepreneurs are invited to the 6th annual Media Solutions Seminar at the Hub Conference Center March 18th in Philadelphia, walking distance from Amtrak’s 30th Street Station and 20 minutes from Philadelphia International Airport.

Buffet breakfast, lunch and all breaks prepared by James Beard award-winning chef Jean-Marie Lacroix, former executive chef at The Four Seasons included.

Register Now

Contact Jerry about the conference and group rates here.