Friday, 23 March 2012

Radiodays Europe 2012; "How was it for you...?"

It’s exactly a week since I was stepping on to a plane and waving farewell to Barcelona - Radiodays Europe done for another year. So, what did we learn? What were the good bits? How has radio in Europe moved on in the last 12 months?

My sense was of an industry that is slightly more at ease with itself than last year. There seems an acceptance that different countries are at different points on the curve of evolution, and ‘a one size fits all’ approach is no longer relevant or even necessary.

There also seems to be a greater acceptance that a digital future is vital for the medium if it is to remain the cornerstone of peoples’ lives. There were fewer ‘nay-sayers ‘ or luddites around this year. Or perhaps they were just keeping quiet!

As always with any conference, there’s hopefully something for everybody, whether it’s technical innovation, new sales initiatives or creative programming. Personally, I enjoyed listening to Julian Treasure talk about the importance of sound, a topic close to my heart... and I found it fascinating to listen to the ‘in-car entertainment geeks’ map out the future of how radio might be incorporated into the dashboard of the future. No mention of a flux capacitor once though! Quite disappointing.

Sometimes radio conferences can be far too full of ‘PowerPoint’ and data, and graphs, and we lose sight a bit that we’re meant to be in the entertainment business. So I was really pleased to be able to pull together a session that had no graphs and no data... but just some fun pictures, a few music and radio clips... and a great guest.

Those who attended will no doubt tell you that for around 40 minutes, Pete Waterman chatted about something else close to my heart... pop music. And if you want to chat about that topic, I can’t think of anyone else I ‘d rather chat about it with. Some great stories about how some of the biggest pop hits of the 80s and 90s came together, and some straight talking about radio and the music industry... all delivered with a sense of fun and enthusiasm that’s really infectious. I had some great comments from those who attended (thank you!), and if you couldn’t make it along for whatever reason... watch this space... there may be some news on that in due course!

Playing a few old clips of Pete on Radio City in the 1980s reminded me of something that sometimes gets lost in the obsession with research and fixation on data... and that’s passion.

Passion for playing great music... passion for telling listeners a story... passion for life – being passionate on the radio in a genuine and honest way will always win over a ‘painting by numbers’ approach.

You can hear the passionate broadcasters a mile off. They stand out. They offer something unique... and in a constantly homogenising  radioscape, where music is ubiquitous, my feeling is that passion will drive the audiences of the future.

PS - If you want to hear one of the clips that I dug out from my archive and played in the session, here it is...

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