By Chad Whittle
MILLEDGEVILLE, GA — I wanted to share some great news with all of you in the radio business: Generation Z is excited about radio! The articles stating the demise of radio is just around the corner are all greatly exaggerated.
This semester, I have had the honor and privilege of getting to teach a course on radio broadcasting to students ranging from freshmen to sophomores. In this course, multiple students are excited about learning more about the radio industry. I know because they told me last semester they were interested and eager to take the class.
Each week the students receive live on-air experience via a student-produced radio program featuring news, sports updates, and interviews on the campus radio station, WGUR 95.3 “The Noise.”
“I got very interested in radio when this past summer, I did an internship with the Ryan Seacrest Foundation in the Children’s Hospital of Atlanta. I had the opportunity to have my own show, and I absolutely loved it. So, I decided to give radio one more chance by taking this course,” said Isabella Echeveria.
“I want to pursue a career in radio news because I think of all the news media formats we have radio is the best at delivering information quickly and concisely,” said Jonathan O’Brien.
In addition to these students, a freshman I spoke with outside of class told me he wants to pursue a career in radio. I told him to start a podcast, and he said he has been producing a sports interview podcast for the past three years. On his program, he is not just interviewing the local high school coach either, but instead, the freshman has been able to schedule interviews with players on NFL rosters. That is impressive for an 18-year-old.
While podcasts continue to receive press coverage as the “next big thing,” don’t be discouraged if you work in the radio industry because there is a love for the medium among Gen Z. Podcasts are great and entertaining (I produce one myself), but the medium isn’t a replacement but a complement to radio. Today’s podcast hosts are tomorrow’s radio stars.
If you have some college students in your community or circle of friends, encourage them to perfect their skills, maybe help them start a podcast, or give them an internship at your station and some on-air time to practice their skills.
The interest in radio is there in Generation Z, and like generations before, it needs help and encouragement to blossom. It is up to us in higher education and the radio industry to help them learn so they can grow into the radio stars of tomorrow.
Dr. Chad Whittle holds a Ph.D. in Mass Communication from the University of Southern Mississippi (2018) and is a lecturer of mass communication in the Department of Communication at Georgia College. He hosts “The Chad Whittle Podcast. ”Follow him on Twitter @CWhittleMedia or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.