Friday 17 August 2012, 15:33
Next month, Radio 1 will make the biggest change to its schedule since announcing its plan to increase focus on younger listeners. Nick Grimshaw will take over the Radio 1 breakfast show from Chris Moyles in a move that has reignited a long-standing debate; should BBC radio stations target audiences by age?
Without doubt, we live in a time when age seems less defining than in previous generations. In a recent interview on Radio 4's Front Row, 64-year-old Vincent Damon Furnier (aka rocker Alice Cooper) declared defiantly "now, 60s, you're in your 40s". And with many hip hop fans heading towards 50 and thousands of young people attending the Proms, is it right that age remains a factor in targeting and judging BBC services?
Like many people, I tend to recoil when I am told that I do not fit within a certain age target, particularly when it comes to music. Therefore, it is important to emphasize that, as head of BBC Radio, I welcome all listeners of any age to our networks.
The very essence of the BBC is that it offers Licence Fee payers open access to all of the services they have funded. Indeed, ahead of any demographic concerns, our first priority must be to create programmes of the very highest quality that are distinctive versus what can be found elsewhere. A plan that was solely driven by attracting the largest audience of a certain age would be fatal for a public service broadcaster.
However, this does not mean age should be discounted as a relevant measure. Here are a few reasons why:
So, while it is not our only priority, it is right that BBC stations pay attention to the age of their listeners, and in Radio 1's case takes steps to ensure it is reaching a young audience. It should be one of a basket of measures used to assess progress and success.
Finally, I would emphasise that the age of listeners rather than presenters is the relevant factor in achieving the above. Their passions, musical knowledge and connection to the audience are what is important here, not the number of candles on their birthday cake. I have a feeling that both Nick Grimshaw and Alice Cooper would agree on that.
Tim Davie is director of BBC Audio & Music
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Thursday 16 August 2012, 09:56
Friday 17 August 2012, 16:39