Lessons from NextRadio, London

nextradioSo are you smarter? Did you learn anything? What’s your big takeaway?

Just some of the questions flying my way following Next Radio 2013 in London.

Briefly here are my answers: perhaps a little, yes, and radio has a future.

For those interested in the details read away. (or listen to the podcast)


Radio is full of ideas people.

This became clear quickly by just talking to the people seated around me. But on stage the creativity oozed at times. Towards the beginning off the day, there was a presentation about creating open source, personal radios from a box of doodads and thingamajigs which will allow you to avoid shows you don’t like to hear.

9728428525_7fe8a092b8_cTeam Rock’s Billy Anderson bound to the stage and paced like a rock-n-roll lion in cage as he explained his fledgling project.

“I created Team Rock by looking at what I need from radio.”

He emphasized it’s not a radio format, it’s a community. Radio serves as a marketing arm for the popular rock magazines he also acquired.

And Absolute Radio presenter Geoff Lloyd brought his quick wit, quirky insights and a very long pointer to explain that as long as we treat our listeners as idiots, they will be have as such. Which means it’s okay to talk about that things that may not be obvious for your target demo.

“People’s big passions fall through the cracks of research. Everybody has a thing that you wouldn’t expect about them. Great radio is interesting people being their authentic selves.”

Radio’s problems and opportunities are universal.

Mobile. Like most radio conferences “mobile” was buzzing around the room like a bee hovering over lemonade.

From field use:

“The iPhone changed broadcasting completely. It’s like a comrex built by someone with taste.” – Reporter Nick Garnett from BBC Radio 5live

To optimization:

BT0YostIAAAc13wJames Cridland declared, “mobile is massive!” as he shared escalating numbers of people who access websites through mobile devices. And not so subtly nudging radio stations who haven’t optimized for mobile to get with the program.

Mobile was one of the keys to electing President Barack Obama in 2012 according to Blue State Digital‘s Gregor Poynton. He talked about how his team’s digital media strategy helped to re-elect the President. And with everything they did they kept this mind:

“Tell a great story and let them be apart of it.”

It’s fairly easy to argue that radio isn’t always telling great stories on mobile and other platforms, and we’re even worse at engaging listeners.

It’s about them, not us

Over and over the mantra “know you audience,” and “use your data” were repeated by men, women and at the end by a computerized voice who unapologetically ripped radio for it’s “shit social media” practices.

“Only post stuff they will care about. Post stuff that will turn people into listeners. Be useful, meaningful.”

Bruce Daisley, the managing director for Twitter UK also beat the drum.

“Users first, last and always.”

And Michael Hill from UK Radio Player has designed the latest iterations of that platform  with a fans first mentality.

“It’s about discovery, getting them to listen to the radio they love.”

Ratings systems aren’t perfect no matter where you live

About half way through the day a gentleman from RAJAR (the UK equivalent to the Arbitron diary service though it measures listening on all devices) took the stage and the collective eye-rolling and faintly audible sighs let me know that no matter where you are in the world, ratings systems aren’t perfect.

Or as Radio Today‘s Trevor Dann tweeted:

“There have been some useful and some inspiring sessions at NextRadio. This is isn’t one of them.

Beer and Radio bring the World Together

Finally, I learned that despite our distances radio people from the UK, Germany, Serbia, Sweden, the U.S., Zimbabwe, and places in between are generally smart, fun, passionate, enjoy talking radio and love share stories over a drink.




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  1. December 17, 2013 at 12:56 PM

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