James Cridland’s Future of Radio: Digital-first radio stations, and the Infinite Dial 2018

James Cridland, the 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.

James’ articles

United States

  • The Infinite Dial 2018 – lots of excellent data, fresh from the US. I wrote up some of the podcasting findings over at podnews. The one that surprised me: more Americans listen to podcasts in the car than satellite radio.
  • The NAB’s Pilot website highlights iHeartRadio in a short video, which has “expanded to smart speaker platforms like Alexa and Google Home”. Not entirely sure I’d put this under “innovation” – this is business as usual, surely? – but it’s worth a quick watch.
  • Aiir’s CEO, Ricki Lee, is buying a radio station in upstate New York. A nice, positive, writeup from the local newspaper is always good to read.
  • A question that needs to be asked: Is streaming music doomed? – worthwhile reminding ourselves, particularly while we await the inevitable iHeartRadio bankruptcy announcement, that streaming music services are losing cash at an alarming rate: and possibly always will. Mind you: they’re also not actually paying many artists, it appears: hiding behind an obscure US copyright law to ensure they don’t actually need to pay anything, just send over an IOU.
  • For Two Months, I Got My News From Print Newspapers. Here’s What I Learned – of interest to me, since I deleted all social media apps from my mobile phone a few weeks ago. This writer says: “Now I am not just less anxious and less addicted to the news, I am more widely informed (though there are some blind spots). And I’m embarrassed about how much free time I have — in two months, I managed to read half a dozen books, took up pottery and (I think) became a more attentive husband and father.” – I would agree with much of his findings, though my successes have been Angry Birds Blast, more coding for podnews, and absolutely no interest in pottery.
  • Comcast Launches NPR Radio and Podcast App on Xfinity X1 Set-Tops – the availability of NPR content on cable TV set-top boxes is a good thing, and highlights the listenership of radio via the TV. I’m quite interested why more TV operators haven’t incorporated radio in their products. For connected boxes (Fetch TV in Australia, Youview in the UK, etc) it seems like an easy opportunity.

United Kingdom

  • Building the ‘digital first’ radio station: a good post from Earshot, highlighting Andover Radio. It’s preparing for its launch, but got a local website up and running last year – not a crappy website for a radio station, but a proper community website. I think this post highlights best practice for both running a community radio station website and also how to launch into a community.
  • The BBC has hired Stephanie Hirst for mid-mornings at BBC Radio Leeds. This story’s notable for being a positive BBC story, and a positive story about transgender, in the Daily Mail of all places. Congratulations to Hirsty for the gig. One of the stations I listened-to while growing up, BBC Radio Leeds is currently on its lowest ever audience figures, and management has made some awful decisions, but hopefully this marks the start of a new era for the station.


  • Miranda Devine, a newspaper columnist for Sydney’s Daily Telegraph, is doing a live radio show (but confusingly using Facebook Live) on some weekday afternoons. As The Guardian points out, the displayed concurrent listeners on Facebook hover around 15-20. News Corp do share some additional stats which are a little more positive.
  • A fancy video from SBS Australia, who explain in slightly over-gushing terms how they use DAB+ to reach new audiences and to expand their offering. Worthwhile pointing out the central theme – that digital broadcasting is “agile” and allows you to try new things. I’d definitely agree with that.


  • Asia Pacific – Study: Radio losing its charm with Millennials – this is more of a study in dubious and misleading headlines. The study actually shows that in Asia-Pacific countries, CD listening is massively down, and while streaming use is up, radio continues virtually unaffected.
  • Norway: not content with turning off FM, the country now wants to replace radio presenters with robots. At least, this story from Russia’s Sputnik claims so, though it describes the company as a “Norwegian startup” and then being “Berlin-based”. “We use your geo location, weather info, who you follow in the app and your preferences to determine what introductions to make”, says one of the founders. Using geo-location and weather info? Sounds like they’ve invented local radio…
  • UAE: Clever stuff from Tony Hertz and TBWA/RAAD Dubai – an audio guide to artworks on the side of a motorway.
  • Switzerland: The Swiss have voted to keep their TV/radio licence fee – 71% of Swiss voted to keep paying the fee, which the BBC reports as costing 451 Swiss francs ($480; £348) per household. Part of the money goes to commercial broadcasters. It’s more than twice the cost of the UK licence; and eight times the cost of the Australian ABC.
  • Austria: What Two Austrian Radio Experts Think About Visual Radio

James Cridland


  1. James newsletters are always stuffed with great facts and topics. Definitely one of the sharpest minds in the biz. I would challenge the notion that Spotify and other digital music services aren’t paying artists is hyperbole. Indeed there’s dispute about mechanical payments, but that’s the smallest of the royalty segments by far and the digital music services in fact pay around 65% of their total revenue in royalties which is why they can never be profitable.

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