A Radio Conference With Its Own Station
September 1, 2015
Radio conferences - I'm running one on September 14th, which I've unaccountably failed to plug enough in this column - are mostly quite similar.
They're aimed at the suits - either the content directors, the strategy guys or the CEOs; and they're normally a day or two long.
I'm one of those who sees great benefit in radio conferences. As an industry, by and large, we don't work together enough: and we don't talk to one another as much as we should.
Radio, particularly, is very insular. We've never had to look beyond our own country to discover what's going on… and why should we? We rarely share programming between different countries, and rarely need to understand or care about what's going on in other markets. So, good radio conferences - like the Worldwide Radio Summit or Australia's National Radio Conference - are great at pulling together different people to broaden our horizons.
What is slightly confusing is that at radio conferences there's often precious little radio actually going on.
So it was interesting being at the International Radio Festival in Zurich, Switzerland last week. It's an event I've been part of for five years now, and I've seen it grow in size and confidence.
Delegates stay in a hotel just out of downtown Zurich (close enough to be in easy reach, far enough away to not pop out). The bar is turned into a radio studio, which is open to the public; and the radio station - on FM and on DAB+ - broadcasts 24 hours a day for two weeks.
The station itself broadcasts twenty-eight radio stations, who showcase their programming, or broadcast back home. When I tuned in, I heard a Tunisian radio station, IFM, broadcasting a strange mix of music to my ears (mixing Abba with Dance hits). Then Love Radio took over, broadcasting back to Shanghai: the first foreign outside broadcast that the station had ever done. Chiarra Luzzana, pictured above, broadcast EDM sets, branded with Swatch, too.
With this backdrop, other radio guests drift by the bar to listen and to chat with other radio-heads. Kiss FM from Melbourne Australia was there (the original Kiss); Pride Radio from iHeart was also there. It was a unique place to talk radio - and to hear it.
The organizers claim over 100 million listeners would have heard something from Zurich in the two weeks the station was live.
Radio's global, and worth celebrating. What a great idea to get worldwide radio presenters all together, making radio and sharing a station together.