Are you a millennial? Take this survey about building a radio station just for you.

First, a little Radio 101.

For decades, radio stations have sought to build ratings by trying to corner specific corners of the listening audience. To do that, they self-siloed themselves into what is called formats: classic rock, country, top 40 (known as CHR or “contemporary hit radio”), hip-hop, and so on.

Appealing to all radio listeners is fraught with all sorts of difficulties. Instead, it’s best to specialize in a certain type of music, attitude, and presentation and chase the segment of the audience that shows a preference for this kind of radio entertainment.

Traditionally, this has made things nice and orderly for listeners. If you’re in the mood for Foo Fighters, chances are you’ll tune in a station that promotes itself as being alternative or modern rock. Need some Led Zeppelin? Flip on the classic rock station. Wanna dance? Maybe the CHR station has what you need at that moment.

This approach worked for decades. But then came the Internet.

Since the beginning of the 21st century, everyone can be their own music director. Why wait for your favourite song on the radio when you can download it or stream it immediately?

By placing so much power in the hands of the individual, millennials and the Gen-Zers who are following them, have slowly drifted away from traditional radio. If something isn’t done to lasso these huge demographic cohorts, terrestrial radio companies will be in big, big trouble.

So here’s the question: What kind of radio format would appeal to, attract and retain millennial and Gen Z listeners? Is there such a format as “millennial radio?” If so, what kind of music mix would it play? Tricky, given that millennials and Gen-Zers like a lot of different music and aren’t married to just one particular genre. (Need proof? Grab any milliennial’s phone and go through their music. Chances are you’ll find music from all genres and all eras.)

What kind of hosts/DJs would these stations employ? What would they talk about? How often?  And how would that radio station communicate with its listeners? On-air? Online? Through social media? A combination of all of the above?

That’s what this group of Humber College studios wants to find out. They’ve created a survey directed at people under the age of 35 in hopes of (a) learning about millennial music and radio habits; and (b) how those habits could be satisfied with a new type of radio station.

The results will be presented to a room full of broadcast executives at the Ontario Association of Broadcasters on November 8. There will be some very heavy hitters in that room, so here’s a chance to get some important new data in front of them.

Here is part one of the survey. Once you finish, you can decide whether or not to go on to part two. And if there’s someone else you know that would be interested (and they’re under 35), feel free to send them the link. The more data we can gather, the more accurate this presentation can be.

I hope you can help. The survey closes Sunday, October 7 at 11:59 pm EDT.


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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