James Cridland’s International Radio Trends: The future of radio in Africa; and more stations in Belgium

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.


Above: The Melt Bar, in Melville, Johannesburg. Want a pint? Want a gigantic toasted sandwich? You want The Melt Bar. Perfect for a 5pm jetlag dinner.

I very much enjoyed moderating the final panel at Radiodays Africa this week – watch here in full – where we looked at the future of radio a little. I’ve spoken at many of the Radiodays Africa events, and it’s a very excellent event with some voices that you simply don’t get to normally hear from. I’d very much recommend watching the videos of each session; sadly, the event took place with the backdrop of looters and rioters in the country, and at least one community radio station was taken off-air. I have always had a wonderful time in South Africa, and hope that the country rebounds.

In Belgium, Q Music have added another four new brand extension stations, carried on DAB+ and online.

Q-Nederlandstalig plays just dutch-language music (which is apparently becoming increasingly popular); Q-Summer is a summer music playlist; Q-Top 1000 is a clever re-use of their music database, as is Q-80s, which has a format you can probably guess.

The canny way of running these, as others have done, is to run them all as one “radio station” for ads and measurement. That allows you to cross-promote them on-air, because you don’t damage the station’s revenue possibilities or audiences. And, if 15% of your total hours are to these additional stations, you’ve either made 15% more revenue, or pulled 15% of your adspots off your main station. They’re also good talent growth opportunities. You see quite a lot of these stations in Europe; rather fewer in the US and Canada, though.

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  • The BBC is looking to open up the podcast industry to a wider range of voices. Neat idea: it’s a well-trodden path for podcast companies across the world (not least iHeartRadio, Acast and Spotify) but worth the BBC doing something similar. They have also run variations of this idea within some African nations, too.
  • Prince Charles did some radio recently, accompanied by this relatively awful shot. showing a microphone miles away from the heir to the throne, and pointing to a spot about two feet above his royal hairdo. As some commenters note, perhaps this was a setup shot before/after the actual recording.
  • Worth clocking: listening to fiction podcasts has more than trebled in the last year, according to Spotify in the Nordics. I wonder whether audio fiction – where you have to listen to the whole thing from the beginning – is rather better suited to on-demand.
  • I feel for the team at GB News, although not that much, as their anti-cancel-culture channel cancelled one of their presenters for being anti-racist. The channel got “no measurable audience”, The Guardian reports with relative glee. I’m sure to have also done that on some of my air-shifts in the 1990s: the little asterisk in the RAJAR book was always a little un-nerving to see. The Director of Programming has also gone; though Nigel Farage has just been signed as their new hope, and whatever you think of his politics, he’s a really very good broadcaster.
  • And finally – podcast SEO is a thing, and Mark Steadman wrote a great article in Podnews this week with a lot of tests about what podcast apps actually index. In short – if you put a list of your guests in your episode notes, it’s almost unsearchable. But if you put their names in the episode titles, then you’ll appear in virtually every podcast app’s search. Share it with your digital teams (and get them to subscribe to Podnews, obviously: it’s free, after all)

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James Cridland