Radio Days Europe: Wrap-up

When a  radio conference is subtitled “where Progress meets Passion” you can expect a lot of discussion around streaming and new media. Radio Days Europe certainly did not disappoint in this regard. The common theme of most sessions was “now is the time to deal with the challenge of new competitors!”- perhaps spurred on by Apple’s ominous signing of BBC 1’s most influential DJ: Zane Lowe.

“I lost my best announcer… be afraid, be very afraid” bemoaned station controller Ben Cooper.

source: talk was the best of the bunch. Across many of the sessions, downward sloping graphs of radio were juxtaposed with seemingly  exponential growth of internet players. He showed us the edge of the abyss with TSL and Cume drops across the BBC generally- but slowly transitioned his opening statement of “Radio is Dead” to “Long live radio”.

“Radio has a hardware and a  distribution problem” said Ben. Gone forever is radio’s monopoly on its own distribution. On this point, he somewhat dodged my audience question during Q&A about “well why can’t radio have a family meeting, agree on the technology and compete on the content?” with an answer mentioning something about “Hybrid Radio” that every European station should be a part of to guard against its own demise.

On the hardware issue, his sentiments were echoed elsewhere in the conference- “kids these days aren’t asking for a radio for Christmas” said one speaker – “I saw a child try to swipe the radio!” said another, slightly amused by the new technological world. However, Helen Boaden of the BBC put it best when she spoke about talking to a group of 200 students:

“Who has listened to radio in the last week?”

Zero hands.

“Who here has heard something from radio in the last week?”

A smattering of recognition from the on-demand generation.

“Who here has seen something from BBC One this week?”

A ha! A breakthrough. Nearly the whole room acknowledged the new visual element of radio content.

And visualisation was a huge part of the exhibition floor. From small start-ups to huge technology companies – a gopro was suggestively gaffered to any microphone possible. To me, video is great and definitely a valuable way to engage listeners- but live streaming every break is boring. Leaving it to interviews, special big moments and announcers mucking around off-air seems to be where Australia is getting it right.

So for all the postulating about the future 3 things seem clear-

1. Engage the listeners on every front-

Whether its video, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook… whatever. Audiences are there hungry for content and radio has to go to where they are in order to remain relevant.

2. Interactivity and Personalisation

We’re in Pandora’s world now folks. If you’re not swiping and inviting and going beyond thinking putting your linear FM stream on the net is enough, it’ll be over faster than you can say “have you heard iRadio?”

3. Content is key

Whoever may enter this space, and gone are the days of “I hope I can just beat the radio station down the road” – radio’s edge will be it’s content. We are experts at it. We have spent our whole careers making short-form audio engaging, relevant and in-context.

This is why I’m so excited about the Australian project who’s stall got swamped by all the Europeans inspired by the content race in a technological age. Excuse the nepotism, but Omny Studio was launched and applauded because for once we want to work with radio and help get their best weapon, their content, at least into the fight. To win against radios new competition, you at least have to be on the battleground.

Something, I think, Australia has prioritised very well, very early in the game. We should be very proud. Like Sam Cavanagh, National Executive Producer for SCA said – we should be excited not afraid because in a world where mobile is key, “Radio has been mobile since 1937.”

About The Author:

Matt Saraceni is the Head of Content at Omny.

Omny Australia unveiled the world’s first all-in-one audio capture, storage, editing and analytics solution built specifically for radio at Radio Days Europe last week.

Prior Matt was at Nova Entertainment for 8 years as Morning Producer but has also worked On-Air at Nova Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney.

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