MusicTank host ‘Sounding Out: Young People and Radio’

20 September 2018

The free Sounding Out: Young People and Radio event is to take place on October 10 2018 @ 4:00 pm7:00 pm at the Sackler Space, Roundhouse, Camden. The event, which features BBC Director of Radio and Music, Bob Shennan as Keynote speaker, is organised in part by CAMRIs Matthew Linfoot, who will also be chairing two of the panel sessions.  This event is FREE to attend, however, you MUST book online, in advance through this website.  Strictly no walk-up on the day!  Tickets include complimentary networking drinks.



Radio is a-changing.

Twenty years ago, radio was characterised by narrow definitions dependent on AM/ FM analogue output, and restricted access to the means of production, as determined by institutions such as the BBC and the commercial sector.

Since then, there has been a revolution in sound, a process that has revitalised the industry and in common with all digital media, removed traditional barriers to entry.   Indeed, with Spotify recently making no secret of its desire to be ‘pinching’ radio’s audience – traditional, linear broadcasting could be said to be facing something of an existential crisis.

Add to this recent Rajar figures showing a steady decline in the radio listening habits of 16 – 24-year olds [14 hours per week compared to 22 hours for older listeners] and the anticipated near-exponential uptake of voice-activated speakers, it’s perhaps unsurprising that BBC Director of Radio and Music, Bob Shennan, has openly declared the need for radio to reinvent itself.

Despite the loyalty of core listeners, the key battleground is for the attention of millennials, who increasingly consume media in ways that suit their hectic lifestyles, rather than the traditional pattern of linear radio that accompanies everyday tasks.

But whereas some, including Shennan point to an exciting future for the medium, others are less sanguine: “Radio is dead but audio is going strong”, according to futurist and Wired editor, Ben Hammersley who at this year’s Radiodays Europe conference went on to say that “We know from our own behaviour, let alone consumers, we’re going to buy an iPhone 12 – we’re not going to buy a DAB radio..”

Despite this, the surge in imaginative use of audio formats, delivery mechanisms and content – from the lean-forward singular listening experience of podcasts and the shared experience of curated audio events through to the enduring appeal of music radio that accompanies our daily tasks, now available to be heard on-demand and at any time – would seem to evidence that the future, if not radio, is in audio.

Produced in association with British Council, this FREE event coincides with the launch of our report for the British Council – Sounding Out: A Rapid Analysis of Young People & Radio in the UK – and will consider the future for radio and audio, the evolution in the way young people engage with the output, and the opportunities that are presented for participation and production.


REGISTRATION  4.00 – 4.30pm


KEYNOTE  4.40 – 4.55pm
Kicking off proceedings with a light-touch keynote is BBC Director of Music and Radio, Bob Shennan, who will give his take on the future engagement of young people and radio, sharing insight on the medium, and how the nation’s favourite – the BBC – is responding to change.

PANEL 1: WHAT IS RADIO TODAY?  4.55 – 5.50pm
In an age in which there is so much content at our fingertips and available via a multitude of digital applications and platforms, the exact definition of radio starts to shift.  The numbers of people who listen to radio each week is fairly constant, whereas the number of hours spent listening, especially by the next generation, is on a steady decline.  This is in part due to the competition in leisure time activities, with young people’s participation in gaming, watching videos and streaming music.

But that’s only part of the picture.  The lines between radio and audio are increasingly blurred, with the rise in the popularity of podcasts and non-linear audio.

So where do radio’s strengths lie, and how can it reassert its distinctiveness?  And does radio need to work harder to appeal to new listeners to safeguard its future?

BREAK | 5.50 – 6.05pm

PANEL 2: STORYTELLING  6.05 – 7.00pm
The two main formats for linear radio – speech and music – are linked by their power to create compelling narratives for the audience.  This covers a wide range of genres, from talk shows to dramas, from request shows to introducing new music.  But key to their success is engaging with the listener, so they can find points of recognition and connection, reflecting shared experiences and commonality.

Storytelling is also the bedrock of podcasting and non-linear audio: with very simple production tools, anyone can know become a producer and presenter and share their stories with new audiences.

What makes for unique, compelling content?  What are the strategies for success, and what makes for differentiation in a world saturated with audio that is vying for attention?



This event is FREE to attend, however, you MUST book online, in advance through this website.  Strictly no walk-up on the day!  Tickets include complimentary networking drinks.

Tickets are offered on a first-come, first served basis, and are issued on the understanding that there is a commitment to attend.  Please notify us in the event you are no able to come so we may offer your space to someone else.  Thanks for respecting ‘free’.


This event times with the launch of Sounding Out: A Rapid Analysis of Young People & Radio in the UK, a report by MusicTank/ University of Westminster, who were commissioned by the British Council to provide insight into UK-wide radio, with a particular emphasis on youth-run and youth-curated content and audiences.

Subsequent analysis of the research identified key trends in recent years, and sought to explain the interconnected networks that operate through various tiers of the radio and audio industry.

The overarching aim was to uncover further understanding of the ecosystems, including key people, technologies and value chains, in order to support long-term planning and programming by the British Council in Southern Africa and the UK.

Share this News