Monday, August 21, 2017


Fred Jacobs Presentation (image courtesy PRPD)
Fred Jacobs from Jacobs Media provided an excellent list of takeaways on his blog [link] from last week’s PRPD Public Radio Content Conference. Jacobs collaborated with PRPD and 15 stations on The Millennial Research Project. The results were presented at the Content Conference.

The Millennial Research Project was based on a series of 12 interviews of Millennial-age public radio listeners in Charlotte, Chicago, Michigan, and Los Angeles late last year and early this year. The researchers spent an entire day with each of the respondents observing their use of media.

The interviews were videotaped, reviewed and coded to learn about the respondent’s media choices and perceptions. I hope PRPD and Jacobs will make the full interviews available to folks in the biz (like me) who were not at the conference.

Here are Jacob's 10 Lessons We Learned From “The Millennial Research Project.  This an abridged version of Jacobs' original post.  I have noted my comments.

(image courtesy PRPD)
1. Don’t stereotype them

While they don’t generally mind the term “Millennials,” they don’t appreciate being lumped together and categorized as being slackers, privileged, or any of the other stereotypes that have proliferated. They reminded us of the various segments under the Millennial umbrella – college kids, twentysomethings entering the workforce, and those in their early 30s who are venturing out into the family experience.

And we also heard about the impact of the recession, student loans, and other road blocks many have faced at a very young age. By and large, they came across as hard- nosed, practical survivors who are smart, informed, and engaged.

KEN SAYS: This is also good advice for life itself. People want to be addressed as individuals, not as members of a demographic cohort.

2. Radios at home were scarce...

We saw signs of this in The Bedroom Project exactly a decade ago. And it was more pronounced in this study. Most don’t have a working radio where they live, so they listen to “radio” on their smartphones, tablets, and laptops.

3. And they wake up with their smartphones

The day starts with
their smartphones, often
checking Facebook, emails,
and alerts that came in
overnight. Many use numerous apps that connect them with preferred news and information outlets.

4. They aren’t necessarily techies...

They use gadgets and platforms that practically make their lives better and access the content they care about. Unlike Baby Boomers, they don’t get real excited or caught up by tech – it’s always been there and they use it when they need it.

5. ...and they use “old school” media

Most had vinyl records and turntables. Several read books, and some even use journals. While digital is omnipresent in their lives, many of our Millennial Research Project respondents own media and
devices that more associated with Boomers.

KEN SAYS: This is an important takeaway. Beware of all-or-nothing conclusions like No one listens to radio any more

6. They aren’t working at cool places like Facebook or Google

7. They discover news through social media and push notifications

Many have developed a certain level of distrust and skepticism about social media during the past year or so in the advent of so-called “fake news.” And the best line of the Millennial Research Project came from a respondent who described Facebook as “the suburbs of social media.”

8. They are cord cutters – or never subscribed to pay TV to begin with

Netflix is common, but few pay that big monthly bill for cable or satellite TV. And their preference is to control their TV viewing, rather than wait around for shows to air in real time.

9. They sure like podcasts

10. The election has been a game-changer

The election and the frenzy before and after has stimulated even more interest and engagement in the world around them.

BONUS TAKEAWAY: They appreciate public radio for the same reasons everyone else does

What public radio refers to as their “core values” – objectivity, balance, lifelong learning, and civility – are all attributes they mention with frequency, especially during the media scrum that plays out every day on talk radio or cable news channels. In this way, they’re very much like older generations that appreciate public radio.

KEN SAYS: What an excellent summary – concise, clear and truthful. Now, please let us see the video interviews.


By my count, publishers in, or associated with, public radio dominate the July podcast rankings as determined by Podtrac.  Only six of the top 20 podcasts are published by companies without NPR DNA. Nine of the top 20 podcasts are published by NPR.

In general, I like what Podtrac is doing but I am amazed by their lack of transparency with this chart.  Just above the list, Podtrac says the performance of individual podcasts is determined by their US UNIQUE MONTHLY AUDIENCE. This statement leads a person to believe the rankings are based on actual data. So why won’t they show the data?

I know the folks at Podtrac sometimes read SPARK! By not providing stats, they give the impression the rankings were determined on an ouija board.

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