The inaugural Nextradio conference was held yesterday (Thursday 15th September 2011) at the Magic Circle behind Euston station. The format was a modern take on the traditional - the audience questions and comments were submitted via twitter, there were numerous speakers and everything ran to time. It’s not often you see so many iPads, smartphones and Converse trainers in one place.
There was a busy agenda that covered a range of subjects – kicking off with Radio 1 presenter Matt Edmondson and his producer Chris Cox taking us through the making of a modern radio show; Trevor Dann’s piece on maintaining and using the archives as a valuable source of content for today; Prison Radio with their captive audience; a gaming app that revolves entirely around the audio experience (I admit I contributed to the slowing of the wifi connection downloading The Nightjar); some presentations looked at how to create and measure engaging advertising campaigns and others recognised the unique ability that radio has to evoke emotions and a feeling of warmth with consumers that other media cannot. This is just an abridged version of the schedule.
I particularly enjoyed Steve Martin from Earshot Creative talking about the perils of creativity – it’s only when someone points out how all TV news broadcasts used to be coloured blue but are now largely red, that this becomes obvious. And the last skit from the BBC interactive team who are working on making radio a visual experience and have, amongst other things, just redesigned the BBC Radio 1 website which was demoed – it looks to me like they have got that absolutely spot on.
There were too many intelligent and interesting presentations to cover here but a lot focused on the future direction of radio which finds itself at a bit of a crossroads. What was clear is that social media and the online environment is a definite route that radio will go down and utilise. Whether it’s as a method of collecting up to date news items at a local level or to engage with a new generation of listener or just to offer alternative ways to listen such as RadioPlayer or Last.fm, it’s this that could well push the digital revolution and not necessarily the notion of more people buying a DAB digital radio set. Whether all this continues to fall inside the definition of ‘radio’ remains to be seen but it appears to be radio people who are steering us down this evolutionary path.
What was also clear is that there are some super-clever, creative and enthusiastic people out there who really understand what radio is and should be that are driving its future. I came away with a real feeling of positivity and excitement at what that future holds.