Radio Days Europe 2013 – Day 2

As always, Valerie Geller was an inspiration at Radio Days Europe. I first became aware of her work. Even though I’ve heard her mantra of “tell the truth, make it matter, and never be boring” many, many times over the last decade, it’s a message which continues to resonate. “No matter what the platform, story-telling matters”, Valerie said today.

She was on a panel with another Valerie, Valerie Weber from a commercial music radio station based in Bavaria, Germany. She explained how story-telling is important in mostly music radio also, not just talk. “Every song is like a short movie” she said at one point. She illustrated this by saying, her listeners had been moved by the dramatic qualities of a song by Adele which they had simply translated from English into the Bavarian dialect. She also mentioned a great sounding on-air promotion they did where they asked listeners to tell them the story behind a significant bill they had to pay. For the best story, the radio station paid the bill on the listener’s behalf.

As a boy originally from the bush, it was also interesting for me to hear Craig Bruce, Head of Content from Southern Cross Austereo, talk about the importance of developing talent in regional areas, providing them with guidance and coaching which hopefully leads a path to capital city success. He gave the example of Kyle Sandilands who worked in promotions and marketing in a number of markets, always begging to be put on air, and who then, through a series of smaller radio stations was able to be guided and coaxed until eventually achieving the level of success he now enjoys.

Over lunch, I had a brief chat with him and with Sam Cavanagh is Executive Producer of Hamish and Andy, about an issue I mentioned yesterday, the idea of developing “fans” not “listeners”. They both agree once you’ve taken that leap of understanding, you end up with a whole new relationship with your audience.

In the midst of a lot of talk concerning technology in radio (obviously an important issue) it was great to hear people like Valerie, Sam and Craig talk with such passion about the on-air talent and on-air content.

That said, technology is important, and there are lots of new platforms emerging, such as Spotify, Soundcloud and Pandora which might replace some radio stations completely, and challenge many others. The American researcher, Larry Rosin said today radio can choose to ignore Spotify and Pandora, and say “that’s not radio” at its peril. He illustrated by showing how the current market value of Pandora exceeds by many times the value of many important national radio networks in the United States.

There was also a really interesting presentation at the end of the day about how a Germany radio station had developed a smart-TV app. One of the developers of that app noted both the Android and Apple phone app markets are close to maturity, with several hundred thousand apps in each place. By comparison, he noted the opportunities for smart-TV apps is wide open, and radio stations should try to find a home there in the space of a relatively green-field site.

Also interesting today was Ben Fawkes from Soundcloud, who I’m going to talk with more tomorrow when I visit their Berlin HQ. Stay tuned…

Today’s Tweets

James O’Brien ‏@JamesOBrienAU 11h
Every hour starts with a list of disasters. #radio #rde13

James O’Brien ‏@JamesOBrienAU 11h
Bavarian radio promo. Tell the story of your bill eg big taxi fair and they pay it for you. Cute. #rde13

James O’Brien ‏@JamesOBrienAU 10h
Southern cross austere runs a closed Facebook group to better contact regional and metro staff. #rde13

James O’Brien ‏@JamesOBrienAU 10h
How sthn cross austere develops talent and fan base. #rde13

James O’Brien ‏@JamesOBrienAU 9h
Through Facebook etc remember your audience has an audience. #rde13

Ross Adams from Spotify at Radio Days Europe 2013
Ross Adams from Spotify at Radio Days Europe 2013

James O’Brien ‏@JamesOBrienAU 9h
Dublin to host #rde in 2014. Tempting….

James O’Brien ‏@JamesOBrienAU 7h
All swedish radio stations allow you to download programming playlists. #rde13

James O’Brien ‏@JamesOBrienAU 7h now live in UK only #rde13

James O’Brien ‏@JamesOBrienAU 7h
As always @vgeller inspires at #rde13

James O’Brien ‏@JamesOBrienAU 7h
Brand playlists threatens music radio. Eg. Coke radio. #rde

James O’Brien ‏@JamesOBrienAU 7h
Larry rosin says radio can ignore spotify and Pandora at its peril. #rde13

James O’Brien ‏@JamesOBrienAU 6h
Phone app stores overcrowded. TV apps the next frontier to dominate early. #rde13

James O’Brien ‏@JamesOBrienAU 6h
.@abcrn gets a mention at #rde13

We finished up at about four o’clock, and that was probably just as well, as I beginning to feel a little tired. After two days of talking radio, I think it’s time to go back to my holiday.

Best quote of the day? I started chatting to a radio bloke from a non-English speaking background. Within seconds of striking up the conversation, he stopped me and said, “I’m sorry I can’t understand a word you’re saying. Can you please speak English?”. “Don’t worry about it…”, an English bloke (with a distinct UK accent told me), “…they can’t understand me in America, either.”

3 Replies to “Radio Days Europe 2013 – Day 2”

  1. nice info James Thankyou! Would love to hear Geller in person, interesting how she has remained relevant thru all of the changes. Particularly like the idea of using a closed FB account for regs/metro communication. I think we should explore that. kel


  2. Kelli, thank you, James fun to read about all this! Great to see you, if even only for a moment, in Berlin… Hope to see you in OZ in the not too distant future… Hoping you are rested and recovered… Always, best, Valerie


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