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James Cridland’s International Radio Trends: Tin hats, conspiracies and censorship

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.


  • Currently in the UK, there’s a General Election going on, and the amount of conspiracy theories against the BBC is quite noticeable. In part, there is certainly some substance to them. BBC journalist John Sweeney has written to Ofcom with a number of allegations of censorship. As a former BBC employee, it’s certainly not true that there are management edicts to be soft on the Tories but hard on Labour (or vice-versa); but it’s also entirely true that BBC management are massively cautious, partially because of The Incident that caused Greg Dyke’s resignation, but also partially because BBC management’s main function is to ensure it continues to exist; and to upset the likely next government (with a 68 seat majority, if YouGov is to be believed) is not consistent with this mission. The Conservative Party is already threatening all kinds of retribution against both the BBC and Channel 4.
  • In the meantime, we should be cautious about labelling those who share conspiracy theories as “tin hats”, as I saw one ex-BBC person doing this week. I’m not even in the UK, but I’m aware of the BBC editing out jeers of laughter for the PM in a news report, and editing in older, more statesman-like images of the PM laying a wreath at the Cenotaph. Both of these incidents aren’t “tin hat”, they’re 100% fact – however they’re subsequently spun by both sides. If the public has lost faith with the media, that’s something we should learn from and engage with, rather than insult.
  • Christian Hull shares his five biggest lessons from working in radio – this is a good, introspective, piece.
  • Some fascinating data from AccuRadio – proof that humans are better than algorithms? (Or proof that poeple listen to AccuRadio in a different way than other services?)
  • We’ve (almost) all done it: made some funny fake adverts for our own amusement, and then, somehow, mistakenly aired them. Here’s a thing from Australia. Ouch.
  • Australia follows where Absolute Radio started – “Project Banana” is now live on Hit 107 in Adelaide, the clever system that allows a live breakfast show across multiple stations, playing different music on each. It’ll be interesting to see if it spreads.
  • Meanwhile, listening to Hit 105 here in Brisbane, I noticed an ad for its other Hit-branded stations on DAB+ and online. That shows a certain maturity and trust for the audience: I was quite a fan of hearing it. In Brisbane, the “Hit” extensions add up to 63,000 extra listeners to the 539,000 who listen to Hit 105; the Triple M extensions also add up to 63,000 extra listeners to the 437,000 who tune in to the main Triple M service. (You can’t really add them together like this mind you – but you could add total hours together, if they were published).
  • All You Need to Know on The Latest Tech is a great writeup from David Lloyd on TechCon, the radio technology conference in the UK. The format of this is unusual and compelling, and I’d encourage other countries to come to next year’s event – it’s a very different way to talk technology rather than the older, more conservative affairs with 55+ men in suits that many countries have.
  • Amazon Prime had some concern that their live Premiership games, broadcast over the internet, wouldn’t actually work. (They also bought satellite time for pubs and clubs, just in case). “If only there was some technology that enabled a live TV feed to be distributed to every household at the same time without these problems?”
  • Thought Norway’s NRK had turned off all their analogue transmitters? Nope: they’ve been running a long-wave transmitter for a while. They turned it off on Sunday. They also have at least one AM transmitter, which is getting an upgrade at some point next year.

James Cridland

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