RAIN News founding editor Kurt Hanson is in Milan for Radiodays Europe 2015. This is the second of his bulletins. See yesterday’s post here.
The sixth annual Radiodays Europe conference kicked off in force yesterday (Monday) in Milan with a packed day of sessions and panels, the vast majority of which addressed the question of how radio can remain healthy and vital in our new world of wider (and largely Internet-enabled) media choices and increasingly fast change — or, as one speaker put it, “How we can progress radio and keep it salient.” .
Over 1,300 attendees from across Europe — plus a smattering from the U.S., Australia, and elsewhere — heard over 50 speakers and panelists, organized into four simultaneous tracks (a/k/a “streams”) in the modern Milano Congressi (MiCo) conference facility.
Passion Meets Progress
In an opening session to the entire 1,500 attendees, “Passion Meets Progress,” moderated by Paul Robinson (U.K.), the Director General of RAI (Italy), Luigi Gubitosi, pointed out that radio began broadcasting in Italy 91 years ago — the home of Guglielmo Marconi.
Gubitosi observed, “A number of times, radio has been indicated as declining — a media of the past. As a matter of truth, radio is very much alive and kicking.” Young people are listening on their new devices, he pointed out, noting that it’s much cheaper to start a radio nowadays: “Launching a web radio is extremely cheap, which is both an opportunity and a challenge.”
He concluded, “In Italy, we are switching to digital radio, DAB+, as well as actively learning how to merge with social media. It will remain a media of choice to many.”
The new, young CEO and Chairman of public broadcaster Radio France, Mathieu Gallet, observed, “Like other public broadcasters, we are facing some difficulties. We need to find new incomes and cut some expenses, because our budgets are flat for the next three years.” He noted that Radio France supports two orchestras and has recently opened a new concert hall of 1,400 seats. Despite these challenges, he said, “We are investing more and more money into digital radio, including new web radios around classical music, jazz music, and pop music…
Cilla Benkö, the Director General of Swedish Radio, urges audience not to underestimate the future (as newspapers did), and highlighted her team of three full-time developers working on new projects.
The CEO of Germany’s BigFM/RPR1, Kristian Kopp, argued that the lack of search engine for radio is one of the biggest mistakes of the industry in the past 20 years and issued a call to “make radio content searchable and sharable.”
Elvis Duran Interview
Subsequently, also in the large conference hall, U.K. consultant John Simons led an interview with Z100/NYC morning show host Elvis Duran and iHeartMedia talent coach Dennis Clark, a regular fixture at Radiodays Europe events. Duran and Clark talked about the importance of building an on-air “family,” encouraging listeners to participate in the program, and being real. (“How important is it to be real?” “You owe it to your listeners… That’s when the magic happens. Being real is everything.”)
At that point, the conference broke into its four streams, with seven sessions in each stream over the course of the day, each attracting between 250 and 600 listeners.
Karnaval Media Group’s Ali Abhary (a two-time RAIN Internet Radio Award winner) presented a well-received case study on how, in four years, he turned his four FM stations in Turkey into a fast-growing, “Digital First” multimedia company.
Other sessions included a look at how Radio France journalists covered the recent terrorist attacks on Charlie Hebdo, a recent BBC study on how consumers use different platforms (including smartphones and tablets) across the week, a new German study on how to use mobile audio to reach the “generation headphones,” a presentation on how the BBC and the Danish Broadcasting Corporation manage their extensive social media efforts, the debut of a new “Project Logo” initiative from RadioDNS to get station logos into car radios and onto smartphones, and a “Meet the Future” panel featuring three under-30 broadcasters.
The evening ended with a four-and-a-half-hour cocktail party in Milan’s stunning Leonard da Vinci National Museum of Science and Technology, with amazing Italian cuisine, sparkling wine, and local craft beers.
The event continues today (Tuesday) through late-afternoon Milan time.