James Cridland

New tech offers radio listeners more choice

New technology enables us to delight our listeners even more — particularly, radio operators are now offering more choice than ever before.

In Australia, Southern Cross Austereo have been doing a crafty job of launching additional brand extensions for rock and sport station Triple M, and top 40 channel Hit — so listeners can now enjoy Triple M branded stations playing modern rock, or classic hits, for example; while listeners who enjoy R’n’B Fridays on Hit can now find a channel that plays that music 24/7. The stations are available on DAB+ and online.

SCA’s work has resulted in 12% more audience for the radio company, in what they call a “brand-safe environment”.

104.6 RTL in Berlin, Germany, have also started doing something new just last week that has helped offer more choice to their listeners — Arno and the Morning Crew, the live breakfast show from the station, is now available through their website and in their app with three different types of music. It’s the same live radio show that broadcasts on the #2-rated Hot AC station in Germany’s capital city, but now you can enjoy a version playing top 40 (“nothing but new hits”), or the show with a greatest hits format with songs from the 70s to now.

This is the first outing of this technology in Germany — Berlin’s “funniest morning show” plus three different music streams, all automatically stitched in.

In Vienna, Austria, Kronehit has a service within their app that allows you to listen to the station you enjoy, but skip songs or other elements that you don’t want to listen to. It automatically plays other, brand-relevant music, but continues to have the same presenters, weather, news and travel. They’ve been running this since June 2017.

And if you listen to Heart or Capital in the UK, you’ll hear a fair amount of national programming — but with presenter breaks that are occasionally local when they need to be. This method of “smart networking” allows a national presenter to still react to local events when they need to — from helping audiences with a power cut, to being able to promote their local breakfast shows when required.

New technology often has a bad name within radio chatrooms and forums: and there’s no doubt that poor voicetracking or networking is pretty obvious to listeners. But this new technology makes radio sound better and better able to compete against the world of Spotify and podcasting.

As Marc Haberland, PD at 104.6 RTL says, “radio’s strengths are music and the spoken word: presenters to move and entertain you, and news and information to keep you up to date and help you through your day.” Anything that helps keep radio’s strengths, but adds new choices to audiences, must be a good thing.