Jose Villa, Ana Castillejos, Amari Vann, Ashley Wilson, Wilnir Louis, Zach Sang (L-R)

The Wednesday Radio Show session “Generation Z Onstage: Born and Raised in a Digital World” revealed that those youngsters born after 1995 will soon rule the world: The demographic now comprises more than 25% of the U.S. population. Music plays a central role in their lives, according to a report shared at the Radio Show, “We Are Gen Z,” from Sensis. It is the number one activity to relieve stress. Their top genre: hip-hop/R&B.

Among other goodies about the generation shared during the session: 42% of Z’s stream video, while 40% play online video games. In fact, 87% of all Gen Z own gaming consoles, and also use them for social and entertainment. In addition to YouTube, the top streaming video platform is Netflix. (Portions of the report can be downloaded free HERE.)

The second part of the session brought in real life Gen Z’s who took the stage to discuss their views on radio, media—and life—guided by Jose Villa, Chief Strategy Officer at Sensis. Among their comments:

  • Radio needs to push away from just playing music. With our student discounts, we’re going to listen to Apple Music. I want to hear podcasts on radio, I want a station that has a connection with Gen Z… with the DJs… “The Breakfast Club” gives me a conversation… there’s a narrative every morning that I want to listen to. I feel like I have a connection with them.
  • A 40-year-old man cannot relate to a college student. It’s impossible. There’s a big disconnect. Radio shows need to have Gen Z interns on the air.
  • Bring in callers to the radio show and interact on social media. We freak out when there’s a connection on Instagram.
  • I was with my 22-year-old cousin last night and she was listening to Spotify, a targeted audio playlist. She said when she gets tired of her playlist, then she listens to radio. I don’t tend to like radio because of the commercials. The only way to bring people my age to radio is to get rid of stop sets for 12 minutes per hour. Bring brands into the programming instead of commercials.
  • There are very few voices speaking to Gen Z on radio. It’s a lot of middle-aged men slinging one-liners. Gen Z is aware that radio exists, but that connection doesn’t deepen, because we’re not being spoken to… and who wants to hear the same record every 30 minutes. Speak with us, not to us. Create a show made for the next generation.
  • Millennials walk so Generation Z can run. They gave us some of the biggest digital stars today. We create videos starting with nothing, and we look at Millennials for that road map. They were the Guinea pigs for us to establish ourselves as brands.
  • Millennials and Gen Z are the first on-demand generations. I love going to Amazon to click-buy. But for Instagram, I’d rather look at fashion in person than online. So, I’m engaging with the brand in person.
  • Next-generation listeners like a lot more than one genre of music. All of these repetitive sets on radio are actually promoting short-term listening. CHR is supposed to be more than 15 freaking songs. It needs to be a collection of different stuff.
  • I would listen to a radio station every day if I could win tickets to see one of my biggest influencers.
  • If you don’t have young people on your staff, you are doing it wrong. I’ve got to have people to connect with my life to relate to radio. – Chuck Taylor