Written Dec. 5, 2006 by in Content with 0 Comments

After many years of trying to get some traction, the radio industry finally seems to be serious about efforts to attract and maintain the 12-24 generation. Fred Jacobs has been agitating on this topic for years, and recently has called for a task force to address the issue. Edison was among the first to champion this cause, with the publication of Radio's Future: Today's 12 to 24 Year Olds, a study first presented in 2000. Still, there is much work to be done.

One of the biggest challenges in attracting younger people is that, frankly, radio no longer has many younger people in positions of power. Many of today's most famous radio professionals were 'big shots' at stunningly young ages. Erica Farber was a GM in New York before she had entered the 25-54 demographic! Mike McVay was managing stations at a similarly young age. Bob Pittman was PD of WPEZ Pittsburgh when he was 18. Radio was once an industry that allowed for astonishing advancement at tender ages.

Today, it has gotten vastly harder to cite cases of 'young blood' that have advanced within our industry. Radio's managers have story after story about the 15-year-old who would rather work at Pizza Hut because it pays more. Gaming and technology hold the sway over an 18-year-old that radio used to. Consolidation and automation have eliminated many of the on-ramps to the industry for an entry-level employee, as I wrote recently in The Next Ten Years: Radio's Biggest Challenge. And shrinking budgets have forced young talent to pay their own way to our ever-shrinking portfolio of industry conventions and conferences.

This issue is not about technology--it is about people. There are some brilliant and talented programmers in radio today, but it is folly to believe that a 49-year old PD and his 55-year-old consultant really have their finger firmly on the pulse of the MySpace generation. If that describes you, you likely need look no further than the impenetrability of your own children to know that this is true. Radio must celebrate its youthful success, and do more to draw young, creative and smart talent away from Web 2.0 startups, software, and, yes, even Google.

Thus, Edison Media Research is proud to announce our talent search: "30 Under 30". We are in search of the 30 best young talents in radio. Do you know someone under 30 years old, working in radio in any capacity, who should be featured? If so, tell us about him or her by clicking here.

We also want to find the best young radio talents out there who are not working in terrestrial radio. At this past year's NAB, I hosted a panel that featured Internet-only WOXY GM Bryan Jay Miller. Bryan knows more about attracting a passionate fan base to an Internet-only radio station than just about anyone in America, and terrestrial programmers could learn from folks like that. Similarly, as Jason Calacanis pointed out in the same panel, we have a lot to offer would-be podcasters and Internet broadcasters in terms of production, distribution and local sales talent. So we also want to find the best Podcasters or Internet-only radio programmers as well. If you have favorite 'net stations or podcasts, let us know about them here. We'll sift through all of your choices--online and off-- and celebrate the 30 best young broadcasters in America.

We will reveal the winners in February. Then, we'll bring them together at a very special event next year, and publish the results of this unique meeting of the minds.

So, send us your nominations! We really want to hear them--in fact, one of you will win a brand new HD Radio receiver just for sending us a name (to be drawn in late January).

We're looking forward...to looking forward.

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