BBC Radio 1 is still failing to attract the ears of younger listeners, as a BBC trustee warns that the average age of the ‘youth-orientated’ radio station is 30 — the same age as when he reviewed the station two years ago.
BBC bosses have had a target age group of between 15 to 29 for the station, investing in younger presenters such as Fearne Cotton and Greg James to attract such an audience. It’s a plan that seems to have backfired, according to David Liddiment, the man behind the station’s review.
“It hasn’t got any worse but it hasn’t got any better,” he says. “The average age remains 30 and it still remains a challenge. We are in dialogue with management [on] how to achieve this.”
He said it was not for the BBC Trust to tell the Corporation how to go about fulfilling the needs of its target audiences, but suggested that it wasn’t a simple matter of making the presenters younger. “Sometimes [it requires] a proper understanding of changes in behaviour and it may well be that something of that kind would apply here. It’s not so much the age [of the DJ] as their style and ability to connect with the audience.”
The review also posed some concerns over BBC Radio 4 and its difficulty in attracting younger listeners. Despite the station’s “national treasure” status, Liddiment said that BBC management should look in some places to “try to make the tone a little less formal”.
However, it’s a delicate balance, and no doubt Guardian readers will have breathed a sigh of relief when Liddiment reassured: “You will not wake up tomorrow to find Chris Moyles presenting the Today programme, nor do we want to reduce Radio 4’s intelligence, analysis and ambition.”