James Cridland’s International Radio Trends: Another pop-up station, and a drone light show

James Cridland, radio futurologist, is a conference speaker, writer and consultant. He also publishes Podnews, a daily briefing on podcasting. Buy James a coffee HERE.

The BBC has made an extra station, called Election 2024, available on the BBC Sounds app. It’s not available on DAB, nor anywhere else other than BBC Sounds; and is a 24-hour election news stream.

It’s probably a good idea: Radio 4 has plenty of non-news content; 5Live is often full of live sport; and the Newscast podcast (and Today) are also good for additional information here.

I say it’s probably a good idea, but the BBC isn’t letting voters outside the UK listen to it. Curious – the release tells me that content is from BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio 5 Live, and podcasts – all available to me – so there are no rights reasons to with-hold this content from a voter for Southgate and Wood Green. Yet, there we are.

(Some audio does sound as if it’s from the BBC News Channel. And if you don’t mind me saying, it would have benefited from some audio processing. Not that I can listen, obviously, cough.)

It’s another pop-up station, just two weeks after I wrote about Capital’s Taylor Swift popup. Some of the commercial operators reading this might be wondering whether this could splinter audiences and, since they’re unlikely to be measured on the quarterly radio figures, actually lead to lower audience numbers for the owners. That’s a fair comment; but conversely, they also attract new listeners to the brand, which may then follow through to the ‘master’ station; and also, they may also attract listeners away from competitors.

  • US radio has gone through rather a lot of consolidation in the last twenty years. I stumbled upon this set of jingles from iHeart’s AC radio stations – the top-of-hour jingle from each, edited together. I dare you to try to listen to the whole three minutes. (Pedantically, while this is titled “legal IDs”, they’re actually not.)
  • In Australia, radio station Nova has had an unofficial mascot, “Nova Boy”, ever since launch. Adam Johnson from Nova Entertainment wrote a thoughtful piece about how much he didn’t really like Nova Boy as a thing – he doesn’t have a voice, he adds complication and clutter, and he’s less “cool” but just “cute”. But he’s been won over – because Nova Boy is an excellent device to use in an impressive drone light show in Sydney – much better than just a floating logo. The video is worth watching.
  • The Digital News Report 2024 is out, with lots of healthy data about how audiences are consuming news. The word “radio” is mentioned 362 times, while “podcast” gets 62 mentions. It’s a good read, and goes deeply into individual country data as well. If you’re involved in newstalk programming, it’s well worth a read.
  • Technorama, a technologists group for the Australian community media sector, held a virtual event this week on proper acoustics for studios. You can watch it back here – including managing reflections, soundproofing, and layouts.
  • Welcome back to the ABC, Spencer Howson, after leaving in late 2016 (and an almost three-year weekend stint on rival commercial station 4BC). He’s doing 12.30pm-3.30pm all this week on ABC Radio Brisbane (with portions on other ABC Queensland stations). Of note – Spencer will be the only local male presenter on the station all week, during a winter ratings break.
  • Spend $1 on podcast advertising, and get back $4.90 in increased sales. So says media agency OMD and podcast company Acast, after a study in Sweden of more than $192mn of adspend. At 4.9%, podcast advertising gives the highest long-term return on ad spend (ROAS) of any media tested, including, yes, radio, according to the study with OMD’s analytics division Annalect.

Brad Hill

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