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Alcohol, young people and the media: A study of radio output in six radio stations in England

Irwin, R.; Daykin, Norma; Irwin, Robert; Kimberlee, Richard; Orme, Judy; Plant, Martin; McCarron, Liza; Rahbari, M.


R. Irwin

Norma Daykin

Robert Irwin

Judy Orme
Professor/Ins Director ISHE

Martin Plant

Liza McCarron

M. Rahbari


BackgroundThis research investigated the representation of alcohol in radio output. The study was prompted by concerns that media output might be part of a developing culture of excessive drinking among young people.MethodsAlcohol comments were examined across six radio stations in England. 1200 h of weekend output was screened and the sampling frame included periods when references to alcohol would be expected, such as the Christmas period. Statistical analysis identified the volume and proportion of comments, whereas qualitative analysis explored these in more depth, focusing on the themes and discourses surrounding alcohol talk.ResultsOf 703 alcohol comments identified, 244 involved presenters. The volume of comments about alcohol varied between stations, being lower on BBC than on commercial stations and being influenced by music genre. Seventy-three percent of comments initiated by presenters, compared with 45 of comments from all sources, encouraged drinking. The majority of comments by presenters support drinking in relation to partying and socializing. Alcohol comments seem to create identity for programmes and forge connections between presenters and audiences, although some presenters achieve this without mentioning drinking. The assumption that alcohol is necessary to have a good time is seldom directly challenged.ConclusionsWhile it may be unsurprising that much of this content reflected themes of weekend drinking and partying, the study suggests that alcohol comments play a particular role in marketing and branding of radio output. Comments about alcohol are shaped by broadcasting conventions that make it difficult to challenge discourses surrounding excessive drinking. Further research is needed on the influence that radio output may have on drinking behaviour among young people.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Mar 1, 2009
Journal Journal of Public Health
Print ISSN 1741-3842
Electronic ISSN 1741-3850
Publisher Oxford University Press (OUP)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 31
Issue 1
Pages 105-112
APA6 Citation McCarron, L., Plant, M., Orme, J., Kimberlee, R., Irwin, R., Daykin, N., …Rahbari, M. (2009). Alcohol, young people and the media: A study of radio output in six radio stations in England. Journal of Public Health, 31(1), 105-112.
Keywords alcohol consumption, young people, media, radio stations
Publisher URL