Every year Beloit College (Beloit, WI) puts together a compelling list that is often a reality check for those of us north of 40 years-old.
Taking a look at their incoming freshmen (The Class of 2016), their team creates a list of things these young people – born in 1994 – think, believe, and experience – or haven’t experienced.
This is often a great tool, especially for radio stations (and other media brands) that appeal to 18-24 year-olds because it can be very helpful in overall messaging, communication, prep, promo creation, and social media connectivity. The list is frequently funny, clever, and loaded with items that make you think (mostly about how old you are).
This year, there is no shortage of fun “mindset” items on the Beloit list. Here are a few that made me smile:
- Robert DeNiro is thought of as Greg Focker’s long-suffering father-in-law, not as Vito Corleone or Jimmy Conway.
- They have never seen an airplane “ticket.”
- There has always been football in Jacksonville but never in Los Angeles.
And a Detroit favorite:
- Little Caesar has always been proclaiming “Pizza Pizza.”
But when I read through this list of mostly whimsical facts and observations, #15 jumped out at me. And it did not make me smile:
Never listen to music while driving a car? And “really have no use for radio at all?”
As regular readers of this blog know, I am a fan of radio, but certainly not an apologist. When I believe the industry is doing something lame, I point it out. When I feel that opportunities are going untapped, it is often a hot topic in this space.
*The fact is, nearly 90% of all 12-24s in America listen to broadcast radio every week. That’s documented by Arbitron’s national numbers. More than 22 million 12-17 year-olds listen to radio every week, while nearly 27 million 18-24s – the “college years” demographic – are still tuning in AM/FM radio even though they have iPods, smartphones, and tablets available to them.
The creators of the Mindset List – Tom McBride and Ron Nief – are academics, and should know better. On a video that accompanies the list, they refer to radio as “almost irrelevant.”
These guys make the media rounds, giving interviews and promoting Beloit College and the list. There’s a book, podcasts, speeches – a cottage industry based on the Mindset List. They even recommend using it as a teaching tool and as a conversation starter – both good ideas in principle.
But how about a list that has been vetted for accuracy? How about list items that simply aren’t made up?
So to the geniuses behind the Mindset List, continue to have fun with us and your class of incoming freshmen. But when the world laughs with you and raises its collective eyebrows at some of your factoids, you have an obligation to get it right.
*Source: Arbitron National Regional Database, Fall 2011 | Full week total national reach | Teens 12-17: 89.9 cume rating, 22,144,900 cume | Persons 18-24: 89.9 cume rating, 26,993,900.
Thanks to Arbitron’s Jon Miller for providing this data.
UPDATE: It has been brought to our attention that #15 on the Mindset List has now been corrected. Here’s how it now reads:
“While still fans of music on radio, they often listen to it on their laptops or replace it with music downloaded onto their MP3s and iPods.”
Smart move, but the Webcast on the site has not yet been changed, and still reflects the tone and substance of the original wording.