Radio Days Conference – Day 2

The day started and ended in a way with the word “spectrum”. The second day of the conference was only for half a day, and therefore not as intensive as yesterday. There was still a lot packed in though, and we had a nine o’clock start which I thought was a little ambitious for the second day of a conference. Most of the conferences I’ve been to start later on the second day, acknowledging that people usually go out and have a few drinks the night before. As with yesterday’s I’ll reflect on Day 2 based on the tweets I sent during my time there. As I was on a panel for the final hour, though, I didn’t tweet, so will do my best to remember what everyone said.

“Spectrum, spectrum spectrum”

The first session was a talk by Joan Warner from Commercial Radio Australia, describing what she said was “sunshine story from down under” plotting the launch of digital radio late last year. Her arguments about the importance of spectrum both now and in the future were key to her message about radio’s future. Although I knew the story inside out, I went along to support her, as that’s the kind of guy that I am. I hope she appreciated a “good onya” at the end of her talk.

“Australian digital radio industry report out monday”

According to recent reports, 100,000 digital radios have been sold in Australia. Six months or so after the launch, we’ll know early next week how much people are listening. She knows the answer already, but wouldn’t give too much away, aside from an indication time spent listening is higher for digital than for online listening which makes sense.

“Looking forward to session by pirate bay founder”

Of course I have never used Pirate Bay, and have never downloaded a music file or movie, so it was purely out of curiosity that I went along to the talk by one of the three co-founders of Pirate Bay.

“Other two. One drinks too much and the other does other band things to his body”, Peter who lives in nearby Malmo told the conference.

He was a funny guy, who told the story of how they responded with humour to the many legal threats they have faced over the years. Of course, they face a greater threat at the moment, having been found guilty of “being party to possible file sharing” (or something like that), though awaiting an appeal hearing in September.

“Everything will be digitised forms basis of pirate bay approach to copyright law”

Central to his argument about why Pirate Bay was a good thing, he spoke about how in the future it will be possible to digitise everything including clothing. He also spoke about middle men getting in the way of the relationship between performer and audience.

“Flattr is new site from pirate bay cofounder”

That said, he acknowledged the irony in his new project which seeks to create market for artists to sell their work. “I will take a small percentage, not 95% like the record companies” he said when questioned about this.

“Love love love pirate bay presentation. What a great story.”

“Lots of blokes here wearing jeans with formal jackets: a fashion statement I never understood”

In response I received a tweet that it was a “Scandinavian thing”.

“37% of top 100 iphone apps in germany are radio”

The next session was about radio on mobile phones with participation from Ericsson, Nokia etc. I was a little disappointed with this session. It was a little boring. I expected more “news”, I guess.

“Android to overtake I phone within twelve months”

And then it was my turn to speak on a panel with two others. There was a bloke from the BBC who spoke about the many different ways in which they interact with their audience. The BBC and the ABC are remarkably similar we both agreed, noting issues like editorial independence in the public sector.

And there was a bloke from a radio station in Berlin who described their interaction with a young audience. He spoke about being in spaces with the target audience, but not trying too hard to make it a promotional vehicle. You need to be authentic he said. He also showed a terrific video where they asked listeners to create their own “Single Ladies” video, which was bloody hilarious!

Both had really great presentations, and were really nice to meet.

“Speech went well I think. Good lunch chatting with nice people”

At the lunch I ran into a bloke who I have previously met and corresponded with. He’s a lovely bloke called Peter Waak. Based in Stockholm, he consults to radio stations around the world.

Seated with him were a number of colleagues, including a bloke who used to work in Sydney, and an American radio consultant whose work I have read quite a bit. What did we talk about? Radio, of course.

Though I did chat with Peter a little about my experiences in Stockholm, and how wonderful I think it is.

I was a little nervous about making my speech. Even though I’ve spent most of my life either talking on the radio or standing up in front of people talking. Despite this, there is always the fear of being judged by your peers, people who know as much, if not more than you.

Nervousness is a good thing. Complacency is the opposite. But within about 30 seconds of starting my speech my nervousness disappeared. And I began to read the speech from memory rather than the page. I was encouraged by the looks on the faces of the people in the first few rows, who looked genuinely interested. I threw in a reference to Princess Mary coming from Tasmania which got the chuckle in response I hoped it would.

The paper will be available online as soon as I send them the final copy. I kept working on it overnight, and so haven’t had the chance yet to email the absolute final speech.

It’s Saturday morning as I write this. I was awoken this morning by two text messages.

The first was from a colleague back in Sydney, saying “thanks for all the updates on Twitter, now get back to your holiday”. And that’s the definite plan now the conference is over and done with.

And the second was from a bloke I met in Stockholm two years ago, Edward, who said there was a photograph of me in today’s “Sydney Morning Herald”. The art group I’m involved in is profiled over three pages (including the cover) of today’s “Spectrum”.

So yeah, as Joan Warner said… “it’s spectrum, spectrum, spectrum”.

PS. Here’s my paper listed on the Radio Days website or you can directly download the Radio Days Europe 2010 presentation by James O’Brien