Monday, 21 December 2009

"Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let it Snow!"

And so as the large and silent snowflakes drift majestically downwards from a dark and dreary sky... and the view from my office window here in Windsor seems like it’s taken directly from a Hallmark Christmas card, it feels an appropriate time to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas. It’s been another fascinating year in radio as we say goodbye to the ‘Noughties’ and stand on the edge of a new decade (The Tens??). Imagine for a moment if we fast-forwarded a decade right now, I wonder what the radio business will look like in 2019 going into 2020?

There are many radio futurologists who spend a good deal of time thinking about the way radio will evolve, and much of their speculation is derived from and rooted in advances and changes in technology. There’s no doubt that technological advance has changed all media an unimaginable amount over the last decade, so it is reasonable to believe that the next decade will be no different.

I’m writing this as I’m listening to my shiny new ‘Pure Sensia’, which as many of you know is a device which does a pretty good job of integrating FM, DAB, Wi-Fi radio, Podcasts and my own music library at home. Having spent a few days with it, I find that actually after a while, it becomes pretty unimportant to me which type of technology I’m employing to listen; I just want the content that I want, there and then. And if an integrated device can bring it to me simply... great.

I’ve found a whole new seam of previously untapped stations and content to listen to, and so my time spent listening to audio entertainment (or radio as we used to call it) has increased of late.

So, if the technology advances in a positive way to make the user experience an even better one, the onus then swings back to programmers and programme makers once again. We have to strive for even more creativity to make sure our content stands out in the plethora of audio entertainment available. That’s easier said than done, but it’s nice to see there are stations and programmers who understand the importance of this right now. Spending some time, effort and yes... I’m afraid you’ll have to spend some money, in developing creative radio hosts and programmes is going to be vital for the next decade.

Programmers need to take more risks. I’ve seen stations become so nervous of making a mistake in tough economic times, they become a sterile, insular and unimaginative. Meanwhile the ones who are prepared to take calculated risks are sowing the seeds for a healthy future in the digital space. And making radio a ‘digital enabled’ business is vital in the commercial sector if radio groups worldwide are to compete with the internet for ad-spend.

But let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. Radio is evolving, but the pace of change varies from market to market. At least let’s try and plan the next 12-24 months ahead and see which way the wind blows. If the last decade is anything to go by, it may be a regularly changing wind which gives us a few storms along the way!

In the meantime, I wish all my lovely clients and radio friends from stations and media businesses across the world all the very best for Christmas, and a very successful 2010.

And now Dean Martin and a large glass of Mulled Wine await me...

Merry Christmas everyone!

1 comment:

Colin Kelly said...

You too Nik, have a great time and thanks for all the blog posts this year. I had a Pure Sensia to try for my gadget review slot and had to give it back after a week. Thinking of buying one... What do you think of it? Mine seemed a bit slow to respond at times but it may have been an early software version. All the best, Colin.