Special to TALKERS magazine
By Larry Gifford
MILAN — Milan, Italy may seem distant and irrelevant as you sit behind your desk in New York, Columbus, Atlanta, Houston, Santé Fe, Bakersfield, or wherever you are. But, the messages being delivered at Radiodays Europe 2015 could not be any closer to home or more relevant.
“What I find fascinating here is there is a lot of conversations about the future.” iHeartMedia’s VP of Talent Development Dennis Clark said. “I’m really thrilled with people engaged into the ‘what’s next?’ instead of more congratulatory and celebratory, you know the pat-on-the-back sort of radio conventions that we’ve seen in the past.”
Clark was featured in a session Tuesday about keeping talent relevant. He tells TALKERS magazine that coming to Radiodays Europe is refreshing, “It’s a real conversation about the future and all the various interesting new ways that they are looking towards the radio broadcasting business compared to where we are.” Clark talked up iHeartRadio and the company’s apps and in return was impressed with what others were sharing, “You know, I heard yesterday about the BBC’s iPlayer – I thought that was really fantastic. It’s amazing to hear about the Apple footprint already and that hasn’t even kicked in. They’ve been talking about that.”
As indicated by Clark, talk of the future of radio and audio was pervasive. “The connected age,” “second screens,” and “visualizing radio” were some of the buzz phrases heard throughout the three days. Everyone seemed to be talking about how important it is to embrace video, studio cams, and social media. Sam Cavanagh, a radio producer from Southern Cross Austereo in Australia, showed us what that looks like using a Sydney breakfast show as an example. “It’s called the Dan and Maz show. Obviously they’re on radio every morning, and then they’re on Twitter, Facebook, Snap Chat, Instagram, Spotify, YouTube, Vine, and Tumbler a little bit, too, and they have their own website.” And when he says “on them,” he means they’re creating original content or editing existing content so it fits the show brand and the platform they’re using – every day. That is 10 channels of content. And it takes a lot of resources to pull it off. That one show has seven producers including two dedicated to digital efforts only. (By comparison other top popular breakfast or morning shows that are also big in the social space include Elvis Duran, who has a team of 10 or so behind the scenes, and the BBC Radio 2’s breakfast show, hosted by Chris Evans, has six support staff.) The Dan & Maz show also uses a system called Omny Studio which can capture audio in real time and publish it to any number of a social channels with comments and pictures in mere seconds.
There were quite a few tools and services on display to help radio deal with efficiencies as it relates to video production and social media engagement, which as we know can be terrific time zappers. The prices are coming down and the software is more customizable and easy to use.
Anna Sale, host and producer of the WNYC podcast, “Death, Sex & Money,” talked about efficiently growing the audience of your podcast. She was fortunate that shortly after her show launched in May 2014, This American Life’s Ira Glass featured an early episode of her podcast on his radio show and promoted it. But, how that helped ultimately surprised Sale, “I think what was interesting to me about the ‘This American Life’ experience was it was after the podcast version came out when we saw our numbers spike. So, it wasn’t so much being broadcast all across America and having an Ira Glass on the radio show talking about “Death, Sex, and Money,” it’s when the podcast version came out. That’s when we saw the jump in numbers. So that taught me that if I wanted to figure ways to attract new audience going on another podcast is a way to do it because podcast listeners know how to use podcasts. So, why not go to those listeners first?”
There were a million nuggets of best practices through the 50 sessions including five ideas I delivered Tuesday during the “30 ideas in 45 minutes” session. I will be sharing more ideas and insights on the Radio Stuff Podcast this week, including one-on-one interviews with key speakers. It will publish Thursday on iTunes, Soundcloud, TuneIn, Sticher and at www.radiostuffpodcast.com. You might also consider making the pilgrimage next year. There was a small contingent of U.S. radio folks, but room for many more when Radiodays Europe 2016 goes to Paris, France. (www.radiodayseurope.com)