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James Cridland’s International Radio Trends: BBC Radio 1 invites… you; WBAI; and driverless cars

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.


  • Fred Jacobs shares some good thoughts about bad career advice. I’d go further: there are plenty of older radio people who reckon they know it all, having learnt their trade in the 1980s and 1990s. Experience is good: but so, too, is recognising when an industry has changed. Fred himself seems adept at this balance: but many others don’t.
  • The BBC tried to prevent Ofcom inquiry into Naga Munchetty row, report The Guardian. I’d hope that the arrogance in the corporation quickly changes to humility: otherwise, how can you call yourself “public service”?
  • Now that the BBC has pulled off TuneIn in the UK, you can’t wake up to BBC radio stations any more using an Amazon Echo. Unless you try this. (Not sure this method is entirely practical).
  • Variety reports that BBC iPlayer (TV) is being revamped to include… podcasts. While the BBC has done some supremely idiotic things recently, this isn’t one of them: the Variety journalist has got the wrong end of the stick, and podcasts will stay with BBC Sounds. Phew!
  • Thankfully, the BBC does have good ideas. BBC Radio 1, in particular, appears to be one to watch. Here’s a brilliant idea – straight from their playbook of “making the listener the star”. In this case, it’s putting rookie people on-air (my guess is pre-recorded and well-produced) over the Christmas period. Wonderful idea.
    • And, some decent-looking smart speaker action from Greg James at BBC Radio 1. I’m undecided about most special smart-speaker skills for radio, but it’s ones like this that will succeed if any.
  • Real shame to learn that WBAI, a properly odd community station for New York, has (almost) closed due to lack of money. I understand there’s been a last-minute reprieve. WBAI seems to suffer from the paralysis associated with some community radio stations, where a lack of strong leadership leads to political infighting and suspect decisions.
  • Being different, not the same, seems to always work. Along those lines, here’s an interesting idea to get a job in Canadian radio.
  • John Faine, an outspoken ABC broadcaster, did his last show for ABC Radio Melbourne last week in front of a live studio audience all telling him how brilliant he was.
  • Here’s a great tactical use of outdoor from Global’s Smooth Radio in the UK. A clever way to underline a key music artist, remind existing listeners that the station exists, and encourage trial. Good programming decision, too, to place this on a Sunday afternoon, where trial is much easier (instead of a busy working day).
  • Relax, radio industry. The Ecomomist says that driverless cars are quite a long way away (as I’ve been saying for a while). I would see driverless technology being great for long-distance truck drivers on highways: but for typical car drivers on typical roads, I just don’t see it happening quickly.
  • A strange fake radio station podcast is doing well in Finland. How dark is this?!
  • Last week, you might have missed The Imaging Days, a conference about station imaging and jingles. Here’s a live blog from Steve Martin, with his usual eye for detail and humour.

James Cridland

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