On 10 October, MusicTank and the University of Westminster hosted ‘Sounding Out: Young People and Radio’, to provide insight into UK-wide radio with particular focus on youth-run content.

The event took place at Camden Roundhouse and was produced in partnership with the British Council, the UK’s internal organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. A number of key topics were discussed, including ‘What is Radio Today?’ which reviewed the declining amount of hours that young people spend listening to radio today in comparison with the older generation.

The questions of the radio industry’s distinctiveness, strengths and uncertain future were also debated on, as well as how the BBC is dealing with ongoing change as the nation’s favourite broadcasting station.

The second part of the event focused on the two main forms of linear radio, speech and music, and how they can create engaging narratives for their audience. A variety of genres, from talk shows to dramas and from request shows to new music were covered, drawing on how they can use storytelling as a tool for maintaining listeners’ interest. The strategies for success in keeping people connected to unique and original content were also reviewed.

The evening was chaired by Dr Matthew Linfoot, Principal Lecturer in BA (Hons) Radio and Digital Production at Westminster, with several leading experts attending. This included Bob Sheenan, Director of Radio and Music at the BBC, Matt Deegan, founder of children’s radio station Fun Kids Brit School Graduate Nicci Logan and journalist and broadcaster, Andrew Harrison.

Speaking about the event, Matthew said: “The radio and audio landscape is constantly evolving as we know from our students and graduates who work in these industries, so this event is a great opportunity to hear from some of the leading exponents in the field about how young people are engaging with old and new technologies.”

Jonathan Robinson, Programme Director at MusicTank, also shared his thoughts: “Radio - and what we mean by this - is going through profound change.  Aided by technology, its key challenges lie with a declining youth audience largely unaccustomed to linear radio and who’ve only ever known a world of listening on-demand.  We’re delighted to have been able to present the findings of our British Council report, in pursuit of a debate about ‘what’s next’ for youth radio and audio.”

MusicTank was established in 2003 as a neutral business think tank and research centre that addresses change and innovation through informed debates, analysis and engagement with industry professionals. The Sounding Out radio event helped to develop a heightened awareness of the interconnected networks operating through the field of radio and audio, providing insight into key trends of young people today.

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