Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Wonderful Christmastime...

So as another year draws tantalisingly close to an end, it’s time to get the chestnuts roasting on an open fire, get stuck in to that bottle of Port, and recline in my armchair reflecting on 2011.

What a momentous year, with the global political and economic reverberations still echoing around the planet for some time to come. Radio continues to play its part in the media mix, and is standing up well compared to some of the other ‘traditional media’, like press, who are having to face some difficult decisions about their businesses. But the coming year will no doubt bring its fair share of challenges for radio.

In the UK, radio listening remains phenomenally strong with over 90% of the population tuning into radio every week – still a remarkable statistic. And in June this year, we found out what people working in the industry have known for some time... that radio officially makes you happy! They did some science to prove it too, so it must be true!!

The debate about digital seems to have moved to a new level too with many seeing that a mixed ecology of listening platforms is a viable proposition (if distribution costs find a new equilibrium). It works for TV in the UK, and no-one seems to complain too much.

In 2011 we had some great radio conferences to feed our continuous thirst for insight; Radiodays Europe in Copenhagen was excellent, and I’m looking forward to seeing everyone in Barcelona in a few months time. I took some time out to study the market in LA while I was at the Worldwide Radio Summit at the end of April, and found the differences between Europe and US more stark than ever. And we welcomed a new kid on the block, Next Radio debuted in London in September and was a refreshing change in format, focusing on creativity and content. We look forward to its return in 2012.

This year, we also welcomed Radioplayer and since its launch, it’s nearly doubled the number of services on it, and launched apps on Google and Facebook. Continuing to make radio ‘easy to listen to’ is essential for the medium to retain relevance, and it’s something that the team at Radioplayer will continue to ensure moving forward.

Content and programming-wise, the battle for the number 1 commercial station in London continued with Capital and Magic being the main protagonists, and Capital had its fair share of industry headlines... first with networking, which caused much discussion at the time, but less than 12 months on, is seen as an accepted norm. They also dispensed of the services of one Mr J Vaughan of the Borough of Chelsea, and will replace him in January with a Mr D Berry of the Borough of “Really... Are You Sure?” I expect some churn in the market!

Absolute 80s became the biggest commercial digital only station, and I even dusted off the headphones and had some fun in the studio for a few months. Unfortunately, there’s not really time to continue with Cafe 80s in 2012 as I’m launching a new company in the New Year... but more on that in January!

As the sweet aromas of Frankincense, Myrrh and Waitrose’s rather excellent ‘Mulled Wine’ recipe drift across the office, and the sound of Christmas carols echo from the village Church, it’s time to put away the passport for a few weeks, and indulge in a little festive break.... which mainly involves sitting by the fire.

I continue to get the chance to work with brilliant clients all around the world, who are fantastic radio professionals. Thank you for the opportunity to work together, and I look forward to a creative and successful 2012 with you. I will find myself engaging with new markets and new stations in the New Year, which is always something I relish. But if we haven’t worked together yet, do get in touch if you think there’s a project we might collaborate on in 2012.

So, may I wish all readers of the blog, a very Happy Christmas and see you all again in 2012.

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