Ramsey to pubradio: to court younger listeners, get creative, be bold

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What should public radio do about the aging of its audience, as documented in the latest Walrus Research report? Given that the trend parallels a much more profound shift of aging among the U.S. population as a whole, media analyst Mark Ramsey writes, any attempts to create “younger-oriented versions” of NPR’s tentpole news magazines would be the “wrong way to go.”

“That’s like asking Lady Gaga to cover a Peggy Lee tune and expecting it to be a hit, assuming Lady GaGa would even be interested in covering it (which she would not),” Ramsey writes on his blog Hear 2.0.

Repeating a point he made during a 2008 keynote speech to the Public Radio Program Directors conference, Ramsey notes that Jon Stewart of the Daily Show is “more popular among public radio listeners than the vast majority of public radio personalities. Jon Stewart does a type of news show. Jon Stewart reaches younger audiences.” Ramsey also recommends Slate’s weekly political podcast, Gabfest. “It reaches exactly the kind of younger, college-educated crowd that public radio has coveted. It sells out its occasional live events. And, of course, it’s not on public radio.”