Few stories have generated more radio chatter than the recent Atlantic article entitled, “Is Old Music Killing New Music?”  The title says it all, and then it goes on to suggest that radio has given up on new music in favor of familiar and comfortable hits from previous generations.

As with most stories about radio, it ignores what is happening in public radio.  It’s as if the parent tells the child before crossing the street, “Look right, look right, look right, now cross the street.”

Here’s what you will find if you look left to the non-commercial side of the dial:

Music Discovery stations on public radio, which are comprised of both younger-target Indie Rock stations (18-49) and older-targeted Triple A stations (25-54/35-64), hang their hat on new music.  With slogans such as “Discover New Music” and features such as “New Music Mondays,” they make no bones about their reliance on new music.

BDS tells us that the commercial Alternative format is 37% Current/Recurrent and 63% Library.  By comparison, the Triple A panel that is made up mostly of non-comm stations is around 50/50 Current/Recurrent.  Here’s a look at the amount of new music on a few public radio Music Discovery stations:

Despite playing a ton of new music and flying in the face of the “safe” playbook to gain Nielsen ratings, the audiences for these stations are growing.  I wrote about it in a May 2021 blog entitled, “PubRadio Music Discovery Ratings Explode.”  KUTX has a 5.2 Share, and The Current has a 3.8 Share (both six book averages 6+).  Others are steadily growing.  None of them are shying away from their strategic goal to own the new music position.

Maybe the article should have been titled, “Is commercial radio killing new music?”

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