Wednesday 8 July 2009, 19:50
I told The Guardian on Monday that we were going to do some Radio 4 roadshows at universities later this year - at Cardiff, Bedford and Derby. We will record in front of an audience a clutch of programmes (comedy, debate, political) and, in addition, tell them about the range of Radio 4 programmes - and what we're about.
It is decidely not an attempt to change the demographics of Radio 4. It is an attempt to explain to an audience that sometimes knows distressingly little about Radio 4 (we have evidence that we are not much known among many under 30 year-olds) that we have things to stimulate and amuse them. I know that they won't listen to hours on end of Radio 4 but if they listen even to a little bit now then I am hoping that later in their lives they will end up listening to more. I don't think I can just assume that as they get older they will 'find' Radio 4. There are too many other choices around now for anyone to bank on the behaviour of previous generations to assert that Radio 4's future is safe.
There's been a huge expansion in the number of people who go on to higher education and I don't think we've thought through how to appeal to them at this point in their lives. And it's reasonable to think intelligent speech has something to offer. If it works then we'll go to many more universities/higher education institutions next year.
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