While it’s never been easier to create video and distribute it to millions instantly online, it’s somehow rather comforting to know that one of the fastest growing segments of the mass media is something that’s little more than bite-sized pieces of pre-recorded radio. Especially when you consider that the fastest growing audience for this content is 15-24 year-olds….
And after years in TV – it’s a world I’ve just dipped my toes into with the release of Missile’s first podcast series for BBC sounds - #First.
It’s all part of CBBC’s drive to attract that hard to reach 12-16 year-old demo that are largely lost to social media and YouTube.
They want to hear from their peers, be engaged and entertained – and if they can get some tips about how to get through those tricky teenage years, so much the better.
And so #First was born. The idea is to get young people to tell their stories of the first time they experienced a life-changing event, in the hope it would help those going through just that feeling right now.
We all remember the first time we had our hearts broken – when we thought no one had ever felt this terrible and we’d never find love again, we’d just hole up in our bedrooms listening to The Smiths (showing my age there…). But of course – 99% of us felt exactly the same – so I thought it was time to share some stories.
A chance reading of an article learning that Love Island’s Laura Anderson had always wanted to be an agony aunt, and we had our presenter.
Now we just needed to find 33 teenagers prepared to share their stories of everything from their First big bust up with their BFFs to the first time they learned their parents were splitting up, from their first festival experience to the end of their first big love.
For a very small team that’s a tough challenge – but social media inevitably came to the rescue. Not only is it far easier to find people and their stories through their social posts, but that generation is so used to sharing their lives online, that actually getting them to tell their stories was surprisingly easy. They certainly shared a lot more easily than I would have done at that age.
Okay, so I now know what it’s like to be ghosted. Someone gets in touch, they tell a brilliant story, and say they’d love to be on the show. Then… nothing. Emails, calls, texts, tweets, WhatsApp messages all come to nothing – an amazing tale has slipped through our fingers for no apparent reason.
But hundreds of people got in touch to share their stories – the funny, the inspirational and the upsetting – all in an attempt to help others get through the years of growing pains and teenage angst. And 32 of them turned up on time at studios around the country to spend a bit of time with Laura and record their parts.
For an old man it was great to discover that not all Millennials are hopeless snowflakes, staring listlessly at their phones as the world goes by around them – but are interested, engaged and eager to help their peers.
And on top of that I learned that you should never wear your Mum’s 1980s suit when trying to impress a panel of Youth MPs, be careful of broken chairs at festivals and NEVER tell your kids you’re splitting up on April Fools Day.
Roll on series two….
#FIRST is available on BBC Sounds, iTunes and all kinds of podcast platforms. Do listen in.