[View the story "A conversation with a 'replenisher'" on Storify]
As a former Radio 4 journalist, it’s my belief that among people under 35 especially, Radio 4 can be quite a guilty secret. So they are less likely to comment on social media about the bits of R4 they love.
I started listening to Radio 4 when I was about 23 and didn’t shout about it much at the time! When I started working on the Today programme it was astonishing how many people I knew who said, ‘Oh yeah I listen to that every morning’ – I had no idea they did before that.
At the risk of teaching grandmother to suck eggs, I think Radio Four should beware of trying to pander to some notional young audience. That way lies Rocking Vicar syndrome. It should also keep in mind that one of the characteristics of a strong brand is that people’s negative perceptions of it are every bit as strong as their positive ones. My pal Simon Gulliford is a big one for Defining Moments in one’s life and he cites one as the first time he picked up a new car from the garage, found the radio tuned to Radio Two and didn’t change it. Now I know it’s tempting to say that’s all to do with the changes Radio Two made. I personally think it’s more to do with a Baby Boom suddenly being comfortable with its age. It’ll be the same with Radio Four.
The problem is that contemporary marketing orthodoxy won’t let you just sit around and wait for your audience to grow into your product. You have to ‘proactively’ create your next generation of customers… (although I like the idea of going round all the second-hand car dealers and setting the radios to Radio 4 and hoping for your friend’s reaction: “hmm, they’ve used some of that ‘new car smell’ spray. And what’s this on the radio? A documentary about the music they play in lifts? Interesting…”).
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