'The right music' Key to New Irish-language Radio Station for 15 to 34 Year Olds

Irish-language rap group Kneecap

'The right music' Key to New Irish-language Radio Station for 15 to 34 Year Olds

Broadcasting Authority of Ireland research says that 38% of age cohort 'would be likely to listen'.

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) has this week published research into the demand for a new Irish-language radio station for 15 to 34 year olds.

Irish Language Youth Radio: A Research Report, compiled by the market research company IPSOS, shows that 38% of the age cohort ‘would be likely to listen’ to a new Irish-language station, provided that it plays ‘the right music, covers issues that are important to the target group, and potentially is ad-free.’ 53% of respondents stated that music is the key component in their current station of choice. The most popular youth stations at the moment are 2FM, Beat, Spin SW, iRadio, FM104, Spin 1038, Red FM as well as Today FM.

The research does not provide detail on the types of music, but, in a second part of the analysis conducted by the cultural consultancy Bricolage, pop, hip hop, alternative rock, jazz and an eclectic range of music in general is suggested by respondents. ‘Music emerges as the key ingredient to attract listeners,’ IPSOS states.

The research also found that when respondents were probed on specific criteria and asked, ‘If this new Irish-language station had a format you liked, and played the music and content you liked, how likely or unlikely would you be to listen to the station?’, the likelihood of listening rose to 70%.

Ability in the language, while an influencing factor, does not appear to be a decisive element for the listenership, according to the report. In its Executive Summary, IPSOS concludes that, ‘The language, on paper, does not seem to be a barrier once the music and content hit the right notes!’

However, there is also caution around the fact that the radio market is competitive, and, while the research shows that 87% of the 15-to-34 age group listen to radio on a weekly basis, equating to almost 1.1 million young listeners, and 69% listen every weekday, the latter figure has dropped by 8% since 2018. ‘Any new radio station would need to work hard to identify with the target audience… to attract listeners from their established portfolio of stations,’ the report reads.

Commenting on the research, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin TD, signalled her support for the new station and said:

I am a strong advocate for providing more, and more widely available, Irish language content and services, in particular for young people. It is, however, important that we understand not only how young people engage with audio content, both on FM and online, and the level of interest in a new Irish language service, but also what they want from such a service and what it must deliver for them.

The responsibility for licensing such a station would rest with the new body Coimisiún na Meán (‘Media Commission’), which will be established next month and replace the BAI. Minister Martin said that, ‘While Coimisiún na Meán… will be responsible for the licensing of independent radio broadcasting services in Ireland, I have said before that if possible I would like to see this type of service being put in place for younger people. This research will be very useful to An Coimisiún as they consider the wants and needs of Irish radio listeners.’

The research project was commissioned by the BAI, Foras na Gaeilge and the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media.

Welcoming the results of the research, Seán Ó Coinn, Príomhfheidhmeannach of Foras na Gaeilge, said:

With very limited resources, Raidió na Gaeltachta and the two Irish-language community radio stations, Raidió na Life in Dublin and Raidió Fáilte in Belfast, have been very successful in developing radio audiences in the Gaeltacht and throughout the island. Their range, resources and scope, however, are limited at present. The development of a new service with a focus on the young adult community would considerably enhance the diversity and availability of radio content for this section of the population, and contribute significantly to the potential for people to use and enjoy Irish in their normal everyday lives, throughout the island of Ireland and further afield.

Download the two reports below. For more, visit www.bai.ie.

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Published on 16 February 2023

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