WHEN Radio 1, a BBC music station, launched in the late 1960s teenagers flocked to it. Its presenters, many of whom had previously worked in pirate radio, were brash and it played pop music. Despite fears that radio would be wiped out by television and then by the internet, the medium has proved remarkably resilient. But it is changing its shape to keep up with a younger audience. On November 10th the station launched a channel on iPlayer, the BBC’s video-on-demand site. The move was heralded as an “historic moment” by Ben Cooper, the controller of Radio 1.

Between 2008 and 2013 the share of people listening to radio in Britain increased slightly—although the average time spent listening to it has dropped among all of those under 65. But among younger people it is proving far less popular. Since 2008 the amount of time spent listening to the radio by those aged 15- to 24-years-old fell by 13%.

Fewer children grow up with radios in their bedrooms, while social media are chipping away at the time youngsters might spend tuning in, says Simon Terrington, a media analyst. Sites such as Facebook also provide an alternative to the “community” feel of listening to live radio, he adds. And streaming services, such as Spotify, are increasingly popular. As a result the radio accounts for less than a quarter of the time 15- to 24-year-olds spend actively listening to things; but streaming or listening to music accounts for nearly two-thirds of their time.

Stations are responding to this changing market by boosting online services and apps. Commercial stations such as Capital and Kiss FM have pages on YouTube and television channels. But the publicly funded BBC is particularly keen to keep younger audiences hooked. Last year the BBC launched its Playlister service, which can also be accessed outside Britain. This helps listeners find music that has been played on radio or television and listen to it on third-party apps, including Spotify. In October more playlists from DJs were also added to it.

“We’re trying to create a new music experience,” says Mark Friend, the head of digital radio at the BBC. This requires a radio station to be present on lots of different media, such as YouTube, and to be actively engaging listeners through social media. More content—through archive material, or online-only videos—will be “mashed up” with live shows. Radio 1 already sponsors several live music events. Rather than being just a radio station, it has become a brand.

Other stations will also have to adapt. “Radio 4 cannot afford to be just a linear playout any more either,” says Mr Friend (referring to Radio 1’s more cerebral cousin). This is an opportunity for the BBC to try to gain new audiences. But it also poses a problem. As it becomes more and more like its rivals, its distinctiveness becomes weaker—as may the argument to keep pumping it with public money.