Radio DJs encourage youth drinking – report

05 September, 2008

Radio DJs have been accused of encouraging a culture of drinking among young people by researchers at the University of the West of England.

The academics analysed 1,200 hours of weekend radio output across a range of BBC and commercial stations aimed at young people, and identified over 700 extracts where references were made to alcohol.

Almost three-quarters of the comments initiated by presenters encouraged drinking and 13% of those encouraged excessive drinking, the researchers claimed.

Professor Norma Daykin said many presenters used alcohol to create a repartee with listeners and rarely challenged the assumption that drinking is necessary to have good time.

She said: “Our research suggests that comments about alcohol contribute to the identification and branding of radio output for many stations, as well as being used in an effort to strengthen interactivity between presenters and listeners

“But we also found examples which proved that making such comments is not necessary, as some presenters were able to successfully create identity and connect with young listeners without mentioning drinking.

“Radio presenters have a choice: they don’t have to encourage drinking to be seen as cool or in touch with their listeners.”

She added: “Alcohol was frequently positioned as a marker of a good weekend, and a hangover as marker of a good night out.”

The report suggested commercial stations had more references to drink and were more likely to encourage consumption than BBC stations.

Almost half the comments on alcohol in the Beeb were neutral or discouraged excessive drinking, compared with just 17% on commercial radio.

The Chris Moyles breakfast show on Radio 1 was named as an exception on the BBC, with the DJ using alcohol as “a key part of his repertoire”, the researchers claimed.

Kerrang Radio was singled out for references which encouraged excessive drinking.

Hip-hop and other black music stations had relatively low references to alcohol.

The study was funded by the Department of Health and the Home Office as part of their Know Your Limits campaign.

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