PULS Radio talent Julia Janke during her show “Filter.”BR/Julia Müller
PARIS AND MUNICH, Germany — According to market research, radio is losing popularity among young people.
Nonlinear music listening is racking up (both streaming and podcasting), and the capability to create and share one’s own favorite playlists across social media platforms is threatening the role of radio as the primary source for music discovery.
As a consequence, some radio stations have started making a significant effort to raise their appeal among the younger audience. Though youngsters today represent a small part of radio listeners, they will eventually be the backbone of tomorrow’s audience.
Today not only commercial but also public-service broadcasters have developed specific stations that target younger listeners. These include Radio France’s Le Mouv,’ which reaches for 20 to 35-year-olds and Bayerischer Rundfunk’s PULS, targeting 18 to 29 year olds.
“First, we clearly defined our ‘territory’ —connected people 20 to 35 years old,” said Christilla Huillard-Kann, deputy director for Le Mouv’ and New Media at Radio France.
Thomas Müller (R), PULS program director, talks to Michael Bartlewski (L), editor of the afternoon show “Filter.”BR/Julia Müller “Then, since last January, Joël Ronez, Le Mouv’ director, and Matthieu Beauval, Le Mouv’ program manager, have been focusing on a new program format. It’s based on rock pop elektro music and on hearing from our audience, our people — their voices, their issues, problems and celebrations. The Web is our primary engagement medium, so we created ‘webline.’”
Webline (www.lemouv.fr/webline) is not just a Web page. According to Huillard-Kann, it is the digital pillar of Le Mouv.’ Webline has flexible editorial guidelines, which allows the station “to capture what’s happening in today’s society, its information, pleasure and surprises, the way this connected generation consumes programs and listens to stories,” said Huillard-Kann.
The webline is enriched with short programs (two to three minutes long) featuring drama/fiction, documentaries and reports.
Thomas Müller, PULS Program DirectorBR/Julia Müller “We want to keep a positive outlook on issues and solutions, that’s why we produce urban, social and cultural stories,” explains Huillard-Kann. “The content must be engaging, diverse, conforming to youngsters’ expectations and consumption patterns — podcasts, website, shareable. Webline opens perspectives on the society in which the young generation live and participate, and I believe it gives and takes the pulse of a generation in order to diffuse, share and distribute it.”
The Le Mouv’ webline workflow is quite simple. Producers, directors and authors send ideas to Thomas Baumgartner, the commissioning editor. After discussion, the editorial team selects from the proposed productions and defines how the chosen programs should be directed.
The sound, post-production and mixing is carried out by Le Mouv’ sound engineers and sound designers. The webline is subsequently edited by Baumgartner with the assistance of Radio France’s Web department. Content is first published online, then it’s available for podcast, and finally it goes on air.
“I would say that Le Mouv’ is the first radio station to implement reverse broadcasting on such a large scale,” said Huillard-Kann. “We are getting positive feedback from our listeners. Our audience is still increasing on the website. Last March we scored our highest record in terms of audience with almost 850,000 visitors and more than 1.5 million page views.”
Another station courting the younger audience is Germany’s PULS, part of public-service broadcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk. Thomas Müller, program director for the station says that the station offers a “unique blend of current pop music with an edgy approach, unlike commercial radio stations in Bavaria.”
The Le Mouv’ website features “webline” According to Müller, local and regional newcomer bands feature prominently in its music shows. “We keep our audience abreast with 15 news shows each day. We offer a wide range of journalistic formats. As for our content, it is centered on pop and online culture. Overall, our emphasis lies firmly on bringing together radio, Web and television into one attractive proposition,” he said.
In his view, the need for interactivity is one of the main characteristics of the PULS audience. The station therefore offers many ways to do so, from social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to email, telephone and “shout box” on the PULS homepage (www.deinpuls.de).
In addition, PULS offers its own app, which provides information about the current program, upcoming highlights and the possibility to listen to the station online. With the app, listeners can also vote in polls, post comments as well as upload their own audio and video content and photos.
“Getting people to download the PULS app to their smartphones gives us privileged access to our audience,” Müller said. “The app also serves as a constant reminder on people’s phones of what we offer. Our online team adds the relevant data from the app backend and can also access app feedback.”
As for PULS’s presence on social media, Müller explains that the station has a journalistic approach and produces video content. “We’re trying to vary our topics as much as possible, crossing the usual boundaries of a local radio station.”
Two people manage social media activities in PULS’ online department. One person deals with daily posts and specific versions of the various radio topics for social media, while the other focuses on strategy and technology.
“We’re constantly trying to keep track of all user and listener activities and always strive to respond promptly,” Müller said. “In order to achieve this, we have dedicated team members on duty. But we currently don’t operate a specific dashboard in order to keep track of all the different sources.”
Davide Moro reports on the industry for Radio World from Bergamo, Italy.