James Cridland’s Future of Radio: Lyrebird, lazy Buggles headlines, FIX Radio, podcast awards

james cridland canvasJames Cridland is Managing Director of media.info, and an Australia-based radio futurologist. He is a consultant, writer and public speaker who concentrates on the effect that new platforms and technology are having on the radio business. Find out more or subscribe at http://james.cridland.net

United States

  • Incredible invention: feed Lyrebird a minute or so of someone talking, and synthesize their voice. We are now in the age where if we’d like Rick Dees to present a show on our station, we can: just by licensing a minute of him talking. JACK formats across the world may breathe a sigh of relief and remove one cost from their balance sheet.
  • Lazy Buggles headline from Morgan Paar – containing a lazy Buggles headline and an unchallenged line: “I think I can say radio is dead.” Not one person in radio has commented on this, or called this publication out on spreading fake news. Where is the radio leadership here, and why are we allowing people to get away with this?
  • An example of US journos confusing iHeart Radio’s debt problem with death of radio. And, yes, another bonus lazy Buggles headline. We can expect another twelve months of this nonsense, unless someone somewhere in the US radio industry starts noisily squashing these stories.
  • Has Spotify Killed the Radio Student D.J.? – another lazy Buggles headline, and the answer “No”.
  • How a team of outsiders at The New York Times got The Daily to 20 million downloads and streams – “The Daily” is an outstandingly good piece of news podcasting, and I’d beseech you, if you work in news radio, to go and listen to it. Of note – “downloads and streams” as a metric.
  • Sounds as if the NAB Show in Las Vegas was much more positive and dynamic than previous years, if Fred Jacobs is right. Congrats to the NAB. I look forward to more positive vibes in Los Angeles this week.
  • Podcast: How they tune the sound of a car to ensure people buy it
  • Spotify to Develop Its Own Hardware – an admission of failure to adequately control the experience on 3rd party? Radio really ought to do the same, I think, and comments on Facebook suggest that I’m not alone: including this plaintive one from Drew White.
  • Spotify now lets you buy ads by daypart. Surprised they didn’t before, but it’s one more advance on music-intensive radio.
  • A new game puts the public into public radio archives – using crowdsourcing to suggest changes to make automated archive transcripts better. Good work.
  • Another podcasting study from the US. Ideal length of a podcast? 22 minutes.

United Kingdom

  • The UK’s best podcasts – all the award winners from the first podcasting award in the UK. The emergence of quality podcasting awards in the UK and Australia seems to point to the medium finally reaching creative cut-through.
  • A brand new radio station for tradespeople – FIX Radio – launched in London. That makes it the 94th station available throughout all of London on DAB. If costs can be kept low and programming be made attractive, niche services like this can exist: but time will tell whether a station aimed at a specific trade – and one that isn’t necessarily a passion for those that do it – will succeed. Some good programming pedigree behind this, though, with consultant Paul Chantler heading up the names of people involved.
  • “I spent two hours with a mobile video genius and learned 26 useful things” Tom Whitwell talks to Christian Payne – if you’re in radio but producing video, this is an astonishingly good piece for you to read
  • The UK’s “Magic Radio” has a new TV ad. Regular readers of my weekly column will know that I think this type of ad is a waste of money – this one has no tuning details (should say somewhere “FM in London, DAB across the UK, and on Radioplayer”); and has no call-to-action other than three songs that you or I can punch up on Spotify. Still, Magic has previous for this kind of thing – its launch campaign in 1997 had a dog flapping its ears and no mention that it was a radio station, and no voiceover. That one was possibly the worst ad I’ve ever seen.
  • A great event for voiceover and creatives, VOX, is back this summer
  • There’s a new owner for KMFM – one that might not really care about radio, so if you’re wondering whether you’d like some frequencies in Kent…


  • Canada: Why don’t smartphones use their built-in FM antenna? A nice piece from the Canadian CBC. (I’m still a little dubious that people really want linear radio on the most interactive device in their hands).
  • Taiwan: interesting to see a newspaper there go online-only, dropping the print edition next month
  • France – stats: 89.3% of French people, 13+, listen to the radio every week. Canada is 88%, UK 90%, etc.

James Cridland

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