As part of its World Radio Day focus, the EBU is profiling three public service broadcasters which are tackling head-on the challenge of how to become more relevant to young people, who represent a relatively small part of our audience and a potentially big role in our future. The key lies in understanding how to lure this highly connected tribe.
In 2004, Polish public service broadcaster Polskie Radio had the vision to set up a youth-oriented radio station. Since then, the station has gone through a series of changes – transitioning from Radio Bis to Radio Euro, and finally Czwórka, which abbreviates to PR4.
They target 15-30 year old students, who list new technologies, careers, education and culture as their interests. To reach them, PR4 takes a non-linear approach to broadcasting, matched to international standards. Content is also uploaded on tvnplayer.pl, Onet.pl and TVPKultura. Here, Małgorzata Zalewska talks about the station’s journey to success.
1. What defines PR4 as a youth radio-oriented station?
PR4 gives attention to topics which are interesting and important to young people. The second distinguishing feature is the short and varied journalistic content. The style is dynamic and energetic. The third thing is music that interests young listeners – PR4 plays a wide range of alternative music, a lot of niche music.
2. What does that represent in terms of resources?
We have about 40 permanent staff and about 30 freelance journalists.
3.Can you tell us a little about PR4’s evolution from Radio Bis 20 years ago?
Radio Bis was established in 1994 as an educational radio for listeners of different ages. There were programmes for both children and youth and adults and older listeners. After 10 years, the format has changed to educational and cognitive radio for listeners aged 20-25 years. Its objective today is to help students keep pace with changes brought by the 21st century.
4. What’s been the reaction?
Latest figures indicate a market share of 0.65 per cent which equals 198 000 listeners per day. The increase has been steady and is accompanied by a success on Facebook. Within a year, PR4’s fan page gained about 30,000 new users, and today it enjoys about 120,000 likes. The growing interest has led to offers of patronage from youth clubs and organizations, book and CD publishers. PR4 special actions generate a lot of interest, especially among young people.
5. How do you let listeners know what’s going on?
By using all available forms of communication such as radio, internet, SMS, Skype, PR4 remains in constant contact with listeners who become co-creators of the program. At present, we’re adapting our website to meet the needs and expectations of our young listeners.
PR4 is also very active on Facebook. It promotes participation by posing interesting questions relating to its programmes that create online discussions. PR4 is now available on Samsung devices equipped with Smart TV; it can be listened to and watched on mobile devices from Apple and those equipped with the Android operating system and Windows.
6. What’s the biggest difference between young and traditional radio audiences?
Radio stations for young listeners require, first of all, a compromise between what young people expect and what a valuable public radio wants to communicate. It is also important to choose good music which should be diverse and attractive.
7. How important is social media to the success of your station?
Social media is essential to maintain contact with young listeners – without social media performance it’s impossible to attract new listeners and retain old ones. It helps to draw attention to the qualities of the radio transmission.
8. How much visual content do you offer and what form does it take?
PR4 almost entirely broadcasts in a visual format with the exception of night broadcasts and news services. All programmes, both journalistic and music can be watched ‘live’ via cable network or on the internet. Among the programmes, there are also concerts by young Polish bands, discussions with guests, interviews with artists, and broadcasts of cultural events.
9. How essential is PR4 to the future of public service broadcasting in Poland?
PR4 develops with its listeners; it watches them closely and quickly responds to the changes in today's reality. The relationship we have with our young audience is a close one, and one that is the basis for radio development.
10. What do you feel most proud of?
Young audiences represent a challenging group. They can be demanding and critical. The positive response we’ve had is recognition from our audience that we’re on the right track.