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James Cridland’s International Radio Trends: Radio’s Unique Point of Difference

James Cridland, radio futurologist, is a conference speaker, writer and consultant. He runs the media information website media.info and helps organise the yearly Next Radio conference. He also publishes podnews.net, a daily briefing on podcasting and on-demand, and writes a weekly international radio trends newsletter, at james.crid.land.


 

Hello again. I’ve not written for a few months, I know — The lack of radio conferences and meeting people means it’s hard to keep this up on a weekly basis. Forgive me. But I’ve quite a few things to share now, so…

  • First, it was wonderful speaking at The Radio Festival in India on World Radio Day. I moderated a panel about radio’s approach to the pandemic, but was also asked for a short talk about the future of radio. Here’s the speech I gave – it’s ten minutes long, and talks about radio’s unique point of difference. I’m quite proud of it. I do need a haircut though.
  • Fewer and fewer people are listening to top 40 CHR stations. Edison Research report a drop of a third since 2016. An issue with format, or medium? (Francis Currie will talk about this at Radiodays Asia which is a very good conference. I’m speaking there too!)
  • Matt Deegan writes about the power of Radiocentre – a lacking force in many radio markets. I observed last year that where strong industry bodies exist (UK, Australia, Finland, New Zealand) then radio does well; and where they don’t (US, Canada especially) then radio seems to be declining.
  • Good new tool – a way to plan radio shows. Nice idea.
  • Here I am, in subtitled French, talking about radio and podcasting. Vidéo avec sous-titres. Ma tante a mis mon stylo dans les fesses de mon ami.
  • Is there a link between your music and your personality? Spotify says yes. (I’d be fascinated at what that says about radio stations).
  • This is a useful resource for presentations about the power of radio everywhere – a list of audio logos from the US and UK.
  • Should Kiss have their own burger, asks Matt Deegan. A long time ago, before my time at the station, Virgin Radio did a deal with someone (Pizza Express?) to make a Virgin Radio pizza. So the story goes, I believe it lasted for about one day. The Virgin trademark people were less than impressed.
    • Also, see that time when I launched the world’s first streaming radio mobile phone app for Virgin Radio. I got the full legal treatment – we’d apparently transgressed the trademark rights of Virgin Interactive (software) and Virgin Mobile (mobile phones) simultaneously. Branson’s second in command, who’s now in charge of Virgin’s push into space, came in in his leather jacket. To my surprise, I was able to persuade him that every Virgin business would have an app of their own one day.
  • The Greatest Title Sequence I’ve Ever Seen” – a lovely thing from @tomscott about (though he never says the word) the obsession of great creators.
  • Some interesting figures from Ofcom about how the BBC is doing vs Spotify and commercial radio. “B+”, says Bill Rogers’s blog (which is an excellent read about the intricacies of the BBC).
  • Fascinating list of songs from four hours of Bay FM, a radio station in the UK, from 1996. The first show for one Roy Martin – some great songs, but…wow, what a wide mix.
  • Impressive online brand extensions from Matt Deegan. This is his third link in this email. He’s probably doing something right.
  • I’ve lived here for five years, and it’s still perplexing to me that Australian TV news covers stories about radio. In this case, it’s my friend Spencer Howson, formerly #1 for breakfast on the ABC, and after a break he’s doing the weekends for the typographically-similar 4BC. (4BC happens to be owned by Nine Networks, who also own the TV network this report was on).
  • Meanwhile, in the US, an example of the dire state of US radio. Want a female voice for your radio station, but don’t to hire a woman? Just get a man to impersonate one. Also does unfunny windup calls! sigh
  • Interesting. Apple’s radio shows to be broadcast… on the radio.
  • Congratulations to The Goat in Lloydminster AB, Canada, for their anniversary. I miss being part of the Vista Radio family.
  • Meanwhile, competitors Bell Canada, appear to be run by sadists. What an awful, awful way to treat people.
  • “Smart speakers represent 24% of all online listening to all Cumulus stations nationwide” – some interesting data. For what it’s worth, I don’t have a single broadcast radio receiver in the house (that I use, at any rate): it’s all smart speakers for me.
  • After many years of gently poking fun out of radio stations doing phone-ins for “what’s your favourite biscuit”, I’m delighted to see this new radio station.
  • I know many broadcast journalists who sometimes wonder if the lack of permanence of their stories means they ever make an impact. A great story, showing that, yes, they do.
  • Radio types – I’ve been saying this forever, but it’s great to see this data – mobile phones and live radio do not get on, and at last I have another data point alongside the RAJAR MIDAS study. Percentage of Mobile Phone Spoken Word Audio by Content Type (Q4 2020): Podcasts: 55%; Audiobooks: 20%; AM/FM Radio: 10%
  • This is an impressive resource – WBUR looking into radio’s future on its own (Google-funded) microsite. Lots of interesting ideas here. Worth a long read through.
  • And in Australia, SCA have launched… well, BBC Sounds. But it looks very impressive. However, in the great tradition of radio companies launching new digital products, it’s managed
  • There’s a great tradition of radio companies launching products that need spelling out on-air. The UK’s GWR Group had a thing called koko (“that’s kay-oh-kay-oh!”); one of the New Zealand radio groups has a thing called rova (“rover with an A!”); so it’s a slow handclap from me to SCA, who’ve launched an otherwise great looking product called LiSTNR (“that’s like listener but without any of the Es!”).

What I’m up to

I’m a writer, consultant, and an amazingly brilliant keynote speaker for your radio conference, setting an innovative and optimistic feel for your event by sharing how radio is changing round the world – in terms of consumption, production and promotion. If I can help you, or your business, please do get in touch, by simply hitting ‘reply’.

 

Brad Hill

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