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Language Network, Grade 9
 
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Return to book index Chapter 29 : Understanding the Media
ANALYZING MEDIA: Radio Stations

ANALYZING MEDIA: Radio Stations

Tune in!
When you are searching through radio stations in the car or at home, how do you decide which station to listen to? Do you choose a station that plays dance music? The latest top 40 hits? The station with the most contests and give-aways? One with hourly news updates? And how does your taste in radio stations differ from that of, say, your parents?

Different radio stations play all kinds of music, from classic rock, country, and jazz to blues, pop, and alternative. As a teenager, you may be more likely to tune in to a station that plays current rock-n-roll hits. Your parents, on the other hand, may be more likely to favor stations that play their favorite hits from the 1960s or '70s, songs they grew up listening to.

Determining the target audience
Most radio stations try to cater to a target audience. Radio producers do this by playing music that appeals to the target audience. Contests and free tickets may be featured to grab teenagers' interest. Morning shows focusing on current events may be aired to make commuters stay tuned during their drive to work. Even the commercials you hear are geared toward a specific audience. Think about the ads featured on your favorite radio station. What products or services are being sold? Are you the target audience?

One way to determine the target audience of a radio station is to listen to that station, and notice the elements included—the songs, the morning and evening programs, the words and phrases the deejay uses, and the commercials.

Another way to figure out a station's target audience is to browse that station's Web site. A radio station's Web site should reflect the image the station is trying to convey. Many sites for radio stations list or include downloadable versions of frequently played songs, as well as links to contests or interesting community features. You can also learn a great deal about the target audience by paying attention to the design of the Web site. For example, how might a country station's Web site design differ from that of a classic rock station?

The links below will take you to two radio stations that are popular in the New York area. Each station has a different target audience. After browsing through both stations' Web sites, try to determine the main audience for each. Write an "audience profile" for each station that describes the age, gender, economic level, ethnicity, and values of a typical listener. For both stations, identify the aspects of the Web site that are designed to appeal to the specific audience. You may wish to refer to the Questions to Consider as you write your analysis. .

Questions to Consider:

  1. In your opinion, who is the target audience for this radio station? Identify the age, gender, ethnicity, economic level, and values of a typical listener.
  2. How is the station's main page designed? What colors, layout, and graphics are used? Which words or images grab your attention first? How might these design elements appeal to the target audience?
  3. Does the station's main page feature any kind of slogan? If so, what is the slogan's message?
  4. What types of songs does the station frequently play? Are you able to listen to any of these songs online?
  5. What other information is prominently featured on the site? Is information included about contests or free prizes? Are specific morning or evening shows, or station-sponsored events advertised? What do these featured elements tell you about the target audience?
  6. Do you think the radio station's Web site would effectively appeal to the target audience? Why or why not?

Slogan
A catchy phrase or sentence may be featured on a radio station's Web site to help "sell" the station to its listeners and to help create an image for the station. The intended effect is for listeners to remember the slogan and its message.

Target Audience
The group of people radio stations try to appeal to. The members of a target audience often share certain characteristics, such as age, gender, ethnicity, values, or lifestyle.