Conferences, trust, and radio in the car

Above - a decent new photograph of me in front of a building in Sydney designed by a bloke from Denmark. This was at Podcast Day 24, the first in-person conference I’ve spoken at since March 2020; and I ended up, to my surprise, doing much of the organisation of the speakers and slide wrangling, as well as hosting the event. A tremendously good day, only made slightly more difficult by a sudden lockdown of Melbourne, forcing many of our speakers to be recorded last-minute online. I learnt how to edit video rather quickly!

The snatched conversations over lunch and coffee reminded me of the real benefits of in-person events, and seeing people who you normally email, telephone, or occasionally Zoom. Yes, you can do a conference online, but you miss the random meetings, the chats with people who are new to you, and your friends.

As we begin to come out of restrictions in many parts of the world (though Australia has still shut its international borders, and will continue to do so for many months to come, I fear), I’d suggest that “the conference” is something you should put back onto your list of things to do.

Certified Futurologist

Last time I wrote to you, I noted a new “station” called Australia Today on DAB here in Australia, and opined:

Many SCA stations outside the cap cities take talkback programming from The Ray Hadley Morning Show. Hadley, 66, is a ratings winner; but the show is now owned by Nine Networks, a large competitor to SCA. It’s probably not the worst strategy in the world to be building a talkback service of your own, to pipe into your own stations just in case. After all, Hadley can’t go on forever, and nor can a relationship with one of your biggest competitors.

Guess what they’re doing from the end of June? Why, yes, replacing Ray Hadley with Australia Today. I don’t call myself a “radio futurologist” for no reason, y’know…

Other things that might interest you…

  • Trust in radio very high… in fact, the highest for any media outlet, in both Spain and the whole of the EU. Not that you’d instantly know that from the graph, which appears to put newspapers (“prensa escrita”) at the top, in spite of achieving a lower trust score. Wonder what the thinking behind that was?

  • In the UK, the Radiocentre, the UK commercial radio lobby group, continues to achieve good things, like this mental health minute, which is run by Radiocentre, but carried by commercial radio, BBC Radio, and community stations. (The only thing that I can think of that’s remotely similar is some good work for World Radio Day in Finland by RadioMedia, which carried the same audio for 60 seconds around ten years ago, showing how great radio was. Any more?)

  • Bauer, the big radio group in the UK and Europe, keeps making changes that frustrate the anoraks and probably make good business sense. In May, they removed Absolute Radio, née Virgin Radio, from 105.8FM in London - replacing it with Greatest Hits Radio. In a previous life I worked at that station, and the 105.8FM frequency kept the station commercially alive. It now has a healthy amount of listeners on digital, and it’ll be interesting to see how they do in the next RAJAR figures (assuming we ever see any RAJAR figures again).

  • Radioplayer’s Michael Hill was interviewed by Matt Deegan for ASI about in-car audio. If you’re even mildly interested in what might happen to radio in the car, it’s worth a watch (or a listen). In the US, the majority of radio listening happens in-car: Spotify’s Car Thing is clearly one of the competitors in this space.

  • For a while, I’ve been clumsily saying that “live radio” isn’t the only thing; and that re-use of our content is a good thing (which inevitably means making audio for on-demand use, and then broadcasting it too). Annoyingly, Matt Deegan is now saying the same thing but much better - pointing out that only 1.4% of Capital’s listeners might hear a big interview on their evening show, so doing more with your content is a pretty good thing.

  • Spain’s SER wants you to imagine a world without radio, highlighting some of the strengths of the medium.

  • A good transformation of WFAE in Charlotte, NC, USA. There’s lots to learn here, not just for public radio broadcasters, but for everyone.

  • As an aside to the above, I was chatting with Gary Thorpe from 4MBS, the classical music station in Brisbane, the other week, and he was highlighting that 4MBS’s strategy has been going out to connect with audiences: the station is putting on a series of concerts and ensuring its seen as more than just a music service. Good for them: and it shows the benefits of doubling-down on the benefit that radio gives: a shared experience, a human connection.

  • Is the life of a radio DJ perfect for true-crime? - we’ve all got some stories to tell, I’m sure!

  • Casey Kasem - good grief, his final years were anything but good. Worth a listen, perhaps.

  • Good story from Christian O’Connell, who seems to have some good PR people working for him.

  • Amazon has started doing a kind of DJ-sounding music service, which I guess you could call “radio”, perhaps. Typically, these have been programmed by technologists, not radio people, and thus sound a bit rubbish: but perhaps this is different?

  • GBNews, a new budget-basement TV news-as-opinion channel in the UK, is coming to the radio as well. (The format’s European, incidentally). I have long believed that TV audio might make for good radio in many ways - they’re not the first to put their audio on the radio (Bloomberg already does this in London; and ITN did for a while, too).

  • Meanwhile, in Canada, one of the most over-regulated media landscapes in the English world is about to get even worse. Utter nonsense. But, I guess, a level playing field (as long as it’s levelly rubbish).

  • Higher rates to use music in webcasting (in the US). The rest of the world are grateful that we mostly get music rights as part of our big broadcasting agreements (although, US radio doesn’t pay nearly as much as the rest of us do).


I think I’ve worked out a new workflow for this, and look forward to a return to a more regular release of this newsletter (and probably need to give the website a bit of a kick, too).

Thank you to Chris Stevens, Hausa Dictionary, Guylaine L’Heureux, Richard Hilton, Brun Audio Consulting, and “Bill Someone” for your kind support of this newsletter. I’m very grateful to you.

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