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Public Radio Study Cautions Against Stereotyping Millennials

But still shares relevant insights for pubmedia stations who want to create a strategy

The Public Radio Program Directors Association released the findings of the Millennial Research Project, focused on young public radio listeners, at the 2017 year’s PRPD Content Conference in Washington. The research was conducted with media, technology and consumer research firm Jacobs Media.

PRPD President Jody Evans provided context: “The world is not lacking in millennial-focused research. As the professional service bureau for public radio’s content community, we did see a lack of research that addressed our members’ specific needs and interests.”

The study found that it’s important not to generalize about the cohort, but “unveiled important views on technology, civic engagement, media expectations and consumption, and social coherence,” according to the release. On the other hand, “participants are consuming a great deal of public radio and value the current aesthetic, but are also looking for a more direct and incisive style of journalism.” The MRP also saw that social media and smartphones have influenced this age group’s willingness to consume news in smaller chunks. It also confirmed that podcasts are important and convenient part of the media diet for millennials. Summed up, “MRP participants, and millennials, in general, are an extremely diverse, locally engaged group and expect the same from their public radio station.”

Next, PRPD will work with member stations to integrate and apply the findings.

The Millennial Research Project was designed to:

● Glean insight into the attitudes, awareness, and expectations of the Millennial generation regarding public radio, the news media in general, and media and content distribution
● Provide public radio with information to help develop a system-wide strategy for this demographic
● build knowledge about millennials’ attitudes about public radio for future applications/phases

In order to do this, the project was built on one-on-one interviews and ethnographic encounters with an ethnically diverse cross section over the course of six months (from August 2016 to February 2017). The research subjects were spread over St. Louis; Phoenix; Austin, Texas; New York City; Ann Arbor, Mich.; Chicago; Detroit; Los Angeles; Grand Rapids, Mich.; and Charlotte, N.C.

Jacobs Media President Fred Jacobs explained, “We immersed ourselves into the lives of a dozen millennial public radio listeners. We spent a full day with each of them, from the time they woke up, through their workday, and back at home, observing their media and lifestyle activities.”

The MRP was designed, funded and executed as a collaboration between PRPD and 15 public radio stations: KJZZ in Phoenix; KNOW in Minneapolis; KPCC in Los Angeles; KNKX in Seattle; KUT in Austin, Texas; KWMU in St. Louis; Michigan Radio; New Hampshire Public Radio; Vermont Public Radio; WBEZ in Chicago; WBUR in Boston; WGBH in Boston; Wisconsin Public Radio; WLRN in Miami, Fla.; and WNYC in New York City.