Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Radiodays Europe - Rewind

The first ever ‘Radiodays Europe’ took place last week in Copenhagen. Designed to fill the gap left by the increasingly redundant NAB Europe, it provided a fresh perspective to many of the issues being discussed right around Europe. The conference was really well attended with more than 400 delegates from over 30 countries.

So what did we all glean from this orgy of European radio chit-chat?

Well, I think it’s fair to say that one of the main themes was addressing how radio evolves in an integrated media world, where there are multiple platforms for content consumption. Radio is at a huge crossroads and this was communicated passionately and eloquently by Tim Davie, Head of BBC Audio and Music, who quite easily dismissed the notion that radio has no option but to seek a digital future. It can’t be the only medium just to bury its head in the sand and pretend FM will do just fine thank you very much.

Many, including myself, agree completely, but there are always a few nay-sayers. When even the Book industry is turning to digital delivery and technologies, it’s time for us all in radio to embrace the digital future.

The debate about which technologies will become dominant is somewhat immaterial, as the most vital thing for radio is quality content... a sentiment echoing throughout the conference. Quality radio needs to be available to our listeners on as many platforms as possible and making it easy for listeners to find and enjoy our content is the next big challenge.

The UK Radio Player, an initiative between BBC and Commercial radio got a good reaction when demonstrated, but talk in the corridors was very much ‘we couldn’t get that kind of collaboration in our country’. Well, guess what? You can! It just takes the each domestic radio industry to try and put aside short term differences and focus on the long term survival of radio, let alone growth. Short termism would be a nail in the coffin of radio.

The topic of visualising radio as well as interacting with audiences via social networks was also discussed in many sessions. There is no doubt that devices in future will all have screens and we need to put something on them, so working on solutions is important. There are already lots of great examples out there of good work in this field. Videoing great bits of audio content and putting them online for a deeper listener experience is NOT bad TV. It’s something completely different, and again, some Luddite radio purists said that they never want to see a camera in radio studio in order to preserve the ‘magic’ of radio. Well, I’m afraid the world has moved on and radio is a bit different these days. “Play Misty For Me” was 1971!!

There was great case studies and stories of radio using social networking to get a richer experience for listeners and to spread the brand and content from it to a wider public. I think a lot of stations will be revisiting their Facebook strategies after hearing some of the presentations last week... and quite right too. It’s a massive tool in the battle for ‘share of ear’.

And finally, let me mention Rachel Mallender and Marc Haberland from BBC Radio 1 and 104.6 RTL Berlin. They both over see their respective breakfast / morning shows and shared the secrets to success in a really entertaining session that I produced and hosted. Everyone was surprised that RTL has up to 16 people working on the morning show! Investing in content in the morning has resulted in a very successful show being on the air for 19 years!

Moyles has done nearly 7... and realistically won’t get to 19 years on Radio 1... but it was great to hear Rachel share her thoughts and talk so passionately about producing the breakfast show which is such a well-oiled machine these days. Hopefully everyone enjoyed the session as much as I did!

So, overall I think it’s fair to say Radiodays Europe was extremely well received. Conferences can sometimes be a bit dull... (well, they can can’t they!) but this was an important gathering at a key time for the radio industry in Europe which actually addressed many of the hot topics. We sometime forget that we have more in common than divides us, and sharing best practise and discussing the issues is one of the best ways to create a bright future for us all.

1 comment:

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