Three Generations and Confusion


I was part of a three-generation discussion the other day.

It was about music. It gave me insight but no answers.

I was out on our office porch (PR has its own house) with my two work study students. Christie is a 40-year-old former DJ with a wide knowledge of music. She’s worked at both country and rock stations. Matt is 20 years old and loves music and photography.

Christie, making conversation and trying to get to know Matt a little better asked: “So, what kind of music do you like?”

“All types,” he said.

“But your favorite type.”

He shrugged. “I like everything, really.”

She tried again. “Okay, what CD is in your car right now?”

“None. I don’t listen to CD’s.”

At this point, Christie lit a cigarette and formulated a new question. “Okay, what station do you have on in your car.”

Matt shook his head. “Whatever the dial number is that lets me play my iPod. I plug it in and hit shuffle.”

There you have it. Three generations. I grew up with vinyl records, back in the day when album artwork and liner notes meant something. (Andrew Careaga knows whereof I speak).

I’ve embraced every new step in technology since.

Christie was a child of the ‘70s, right there to experience the tail end of vinyl and watch the advent of cassettes and CDs. I’m sure she, like I, had our one or two favorite FM stations that we were loyal to above any others. This loyalty allowed advertisers to know knew exactly who their audience was.

And here’s Matt, downloading his songs and circumventing everything commercial –cds, radio — not because he’s rebelling. It’s just the way things are done.

Like any piece of anecdotal evidence, it was interesting to experience it first hand in a front porch conversation.

I still advertise on radio, but everything I’m reading, everything I’m hearing, tells me it isn’t as powerful as it used to be and like the battered Darth in the final Star Wars installment, the intimidating mask is off, revealing a small, mutilated man with a weak voice, wondering what the Force was and how it slipped away.

And here I am, still wondering how to effectively reach high school students.

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4 responses to “Three Generations and Confusion

  1. Yeah…I listen to A LOT of music. But I haven’t bought a CD in ages, I get all my music online through subscription services and if I ever listen to the radio, it’s AM radio or NPR.

  2. Nice Darth analogy there.

    I still buy CDs on occasion, but only if I can’t get what I’m looking for on eMusic. (I’m not an iPod/iTunes fan — long story so I won’t go there.) But I do know whereof you speak.

  3. Lol, that’s great. I can totally relate to both their sides and see that conversation. I only listen to my iPod in the car and I listen to everything! 🙂

  4. Ron, I’m curious. What do you listen to on AM?
    Andrew, I know a lot of us want to hear the long story about iPod. Somehow it has to be related to higher ed.
    Kyle, I’m glad you commented because it’s sounding to me like a lot of folks in your generation have turned your car radios into iPod tuners!

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