Michael Wolff writes in Vanity Fair all about his lunch with an unnamed billionaire who, "doesn't have a clue" and wants to buy one of the major newspapers now on the block. Wolff says the desire is fueled by the idea of a really, really big vanity printing press, and a failure to understand that, at 63, or more, everybody's not like them. They may read papers, but nobody else does.
"Newspaper readers (as well as broadcast-news audiences) are old and growing ever older (on an actuarial table, you can plot the newspaper's last day)," Wolff wrote. He concludes, "There are, effectively, no new newspaper readers."
So when I saw the winter Arbitron radio ratings for a Top 5 market, I shouldn't have been surprised. But I was. While the news and talk stations were in the top 10, thanks to morning drive, it appears there are few listeners under the age of 35. Among 18-to-34-years old, no news or talk station ranked higher than 16th.
Can this be fixed? NPR wants to try, launching in September a Morning Edition-like show aimed at 25-to-44 year olds. A major market all news broadcast executive said this was a smart strategy, perhaps looking at his own station’s audience makeup. Tellingly, its programming includes lots of commercials for high-end cars, concert pianos, and furniture stores; no movies, clubs, or concerts.
Another report by Arbitron shows that all news stations don’t attract a young audience. At all. Just 1.5% of the listeners to all newsers across the country were between the ages of 25-44. Truth be told, this number has not changed a smidge since 1998.
Wolff says newspapers are simply run out of readers. Could news/talk radio could run out of listeners?