#RDE16: Day One Wrap

Staff Writer

The first impression and overwhelming sense at the conference is that of optimism, perhaps arrogance even, that Radio is the future. Not only does it have a place – it has a dominant place.

There is a distinct lack of the doom and gloom we feel in North America, where I work. It is refreshing as you can imagine. Some broadcasters are seeing audience declines, but just as many are experiencing growth. Some have created fiscal models that are proving successful, while others are yet to monetize their audience gains.

The CEO of Bauer Media in the UK – Dee Ford – spoke first of their big wins of late, including a dramatic increase in radio tuning by millennials and the power of sub channels (digital) to build and broaden brands.

Absolute Radio has launched 5 era driven sub-channels 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and 2000s. Their CHR brand Kiss has launched two sub-channels KISS-tory (playing music from the last 15 years) and KISS Fresh (all new music). Both brands have seen higher audience engagement and hours tuned since the addition of these platforms.

The PD of Tok FM in Poland then spoke. And in fact committed an act of treason in doing so. Her government has just changed and in a heartbeat decided her station was an opposition to the government and is in a constant fight for survival now. Her words were powerful and the take always were for talk radio – create debate but don’t mud wrestle, the world is fragile with terrorism and global threats and accordingly the role of talk radio is more vital than ever. Think local – there is power there.

Jon Holmes – presenter from Radio X – believed radio has a big future and he acted as the comic relief. He believes social media is a key piece for audience engagement and it’s our job to be everywhere.

‘Radio is a bit like Marmite. The ingredients on their own are irrelevant but together they make something very special’. He was very funny.

Next Group Content Director Duncan Campbell from ARN told the story of flipping Mix in Sydney to KIIS and porting morning show Kyle and Jackie O across the street. The result? A stunning #1 debut.

Their secret? Marketing, audience first, compelling content, finding a different way to do things. And never resting on your laurels.

The head of the BBC and the head of Swedish Radio then took the stage to discuss the future of radio.

‘Before we consider where we are heading we need to know where we are’.

Hours tuned is falling in some demographics and the four horsemen of the apocalypse are coming – Google, Apple, Pandora and Spotify. Latest research shows that for the audience it’s not just about listening to content now. It’s about listen, watch, share. Radio 1 is the most watched radio station on YouTube – proving you can still bring audience to radio but it has to be so much more than just audio.

BBC 5 (news and sport) delivers snackable content on air and added depth through podcasts and video content online.

The BBC app now has a Download button allowing a listener to not be online to experience a show. The button has been used over 10 million times.

Hybrid radio is coming – live radio with FM and steaming interface plus personalization.

The outtake:Radio remains relevant. The digital challenge is upon us and anything is possible. We must embrace changes to technology and we must embrace the trust our audience has in us.

Clillo Blanko, a Swedish radio head talked about meeting the needs of today and win the battle of tomorrow. Traditional TV and newspapers are down. Radio is flat or even up in most territories.

The car and the smartphone are the new battleground. So how do we win?

Focus on the audience. We need to know about their behaviours and their needs. As the world become more polarized we have to keep radio an open arena. Much more effort needs to be placed on content instead of only distribution. Radio is losing its focus at the moment. Ask yourself the question – if someone is interested in music why would they listen to you?

All three content pillars should be seen as equal – on air / online / social.

Focus on audio.We need to be seen as the best at audio by constantly developing your on air product. Live. Local. Events.

Develop Radio On Demand.Growing and growing rapidly. Podcasts are powerful and the audience loves them. Every company needs a podcast strategy. Don’t be afraid – it will not cannibalize listening.

Develop Social a Presence.It delivers you new content. New audience. And it makes each of your audience an ambassador. Share = brand extension plus endorsement

Why? Why should the audience choose you? Know the answer to that. You need to be as good online and in social as you are at terrestrial radio.

Morning radio 2016 and beyond.  Simple. Have fun, bring energy to your listeners lives, be friends as co-hosts and with your listeners.

2/3’s of listeners choose a station because it reflects who they are as a person.

Targeting remains vital. Ensuring your show matches your target listener’s life stage and tastes.

Prepping and organization. Spending 30 minutes to plan tomorrow’s show immediately after your show is done. The more you prepare the more you can improvise. You cannot spend all day at work but not can you just go home. You have to live in the footsteps of your fans.

Listener interactions are key. In person. On line. Texts. And on phones.  Never underestimate the importance of a show producer / screener to get the best out of callers.

Incorporating tragedy. It is powerful to put your regular show on the shelf to serve your community in the face of tragedy. To talk about it. To let your audience feel. Timing is important though and the show must go on the next day. Listeners depend on you and trust you.

Roles need to be well defined on a show. Being true to who you are. Giving listeners what they expect. When you listen to a show you should always know who is talking.

Including women. Women win on the radio. Avoid the boy’s club – even on male based stations.

Social media– what is the best way to connect? Video, social media – Twitter and Facebook, Bruno at Fun in Paris has his own app, podcast daily – the morning show in 15 minutes.  Give your audience reasons to love you and show new listeners why.

Giving back is important. Find a charitable / altruistic thing to do every month regardless of your format.

The difference between an announcer and a personality. Don’t be fake or plastic. Be real and be you. Sharing. Not being afraid.

Ronnie will have more for us from Paris tomorrow at Radio Days Europe.

About Ronnie Stanton

Aussie kid living in Canada. His office job is VP – National Brands and Programming for Corus Entertainment .  Ronnie also consults radio stations and coaches morning shows all over the world. He can be reached through www.ronniestanton.com

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