BBC Radio 1 needs to find a younger audience

The radio station, aimed at a young audience interested in current music is reportedly also appealing to those over 30.

Commercial rival GMG Radio is reported to have said the average age of people tuning in to the BBC’s modern music network had risen from 29 to 32 in the past three years. They seemingly appear to have missed the fact that those 29 year-olds three years ago are now… er… 32. So it is possible that those figures prove Radio 1 is doing something right – engaging and managing to maintain listeners. Unfortunately the BBC have a tight age range for each of its services with Radio 1 aimed at 15 to 29-year-olds.

Media critic Justin Mason says “GMG seem to think when you hit 30 you should what exactly? Turn over to Radio 2 or their own Smooth Radio? Older people can appreciate new music. Should we perhaps look at how many young people listen to Smooth Radio and suggest because they’re under 30 the station has ‘issues’?”.

Controller Ben Cooper is however facing some pressure to try to keep the focus of Radio 1 towards teens and 20-somthings, and not just from rival broadcasters, the BBC itself has raised concerns about the age range Radio 1 is attracting with the BBC Trust suggesting the schedules need refocusing to appeal less to those who are young at heart, but not in age.

GMG Radio state that the audience for the breakfast show, fronted by Chris Moyles has many listeners of an average age of 33.

Stuart Taylor, chief executive of GMG Radio who operate stations Real Radio and Smooth Radio, told sister media outlet, The Guardian, “The trust has asked them to do something that they are patently not doing. The question is: what happens now?

“If Radio 1 was regulated by Ofcom and not the trust – if we were doing this – then it would be a breach of our licence and we would be taken off air.

“My message to Ben Cooper would be: you have got the job, now bring the station into line. What are you going to do to meet the trust’s clear instructions?”

No research has been issued within the GMG article to show how many younger listeners tune to “oldies” commercial networks.

A Radio 1 spokeswoman defended the station, “Radio 1’s young audience has actually increased and now reaches 3.7 million 15- to 24-year-olds. Share of listening among this age group has also risen and the station now reaches 45% of all 15- to 24-year-olds in the UK,” she said.