Look, Over Here!
January 13, 2015
Hello. You donâ€™t know me, and I probably donâ€™t know you.
You see, Iâ€™m not from the US at all - Iâ€™m a Brit.
Iâ€™m told my accent is â€œquaintâ€, and has only been confused once for a French accent (in a funfair near St Louis MI, as it happens). Since you ask, I like my beer at cellar temperature - no, that isnâ€™t warm, nor is it very cold; I think I have relatively good dental hygiene but thanks for your concern; and, yes, I know how to pronounce both tomato and aluminum correctly.
I speak in radio conferences about radioâ€™s future: and I also get to see a lot about whatâ€™s going on in radio across the world. At the end of last year, I had a rather ridiculous month of travelling to Melbourne in Australia, then Moscow in Russia, Hilversum in The Netherlands, Biel in Switzerland and Berlin in Germany. I could write a travel column too.
Radio in these places is doing well: strong businesses, with audience figures that are stable in most cases and increasing in many. Radio in Moscow is most popular with young audiences, not with the old. In the Netherlands, radioâ€™s slick, yet reinventing itself with video and other services. Australian radio is where US radio was fifteen years ago: exciting and innovative programming unaffected by any recession, bank debt or over-zealous regulator.
What ties all these places together is that broadcasters are keen to understand whatâ€™s going on across the rest of the world. They steal the best ideas from everyone else, and keep innovating and trying new things.
I sense that the US is less interested in how they do radio elsewhere. I think this is a shame: and I think thereâ€™s plenty to learn. So, Iâ€™d like to help you steal some ideas from others - particularly in the area of radioâ€™s future.
Thereâ€™s a bunch of interesting, and fascinating, things that radio stations outside of the US are doing. Some are programming ideas and neat stunts; but others are ideas on how to use technology better, from websites to WhatsApp, from video to Viber, from personalisation to playlisting.
So, Iâ€™d like to bring the best of the world to the US. Hopefully this column will be a repository of great ideas that you, or your digital team, might want to steal. In the first few weeks, Iâ€™ll talk about how to get your radio station be famous for the music it helps your listeners discover; and how radio and mobile phones can really click together.
Iâ€™m honoured to be asked to do it, and I look forward to taking part in the conversations that I hope it starts, not least, helpful advice on how I should be spelling â€œhonourâ€. Itâ€™ll be great to meet you: and hear your suggestions.
Now, if youâ€™ll excuse me, Iâ€™m off for a nice cup of tea.