Emma Corsham writes an exclusive review for RadioToday
On Monday I found myself back at the Royal Institute for Science, the second use of this venue for the fifth occurrence of Matt Deegan & James Cridland's Next Radio Conference. The now familiar format of 9 or 18 minutes per speaker allowed us enough time for 24 sessions, both the pace and the wonderful line up refuse to let boredom anywhere near.
We forgave Jonathan Wall for breaking the "no suits" rule, he was off for a very important meeting afterwards with new boss of BBC North, Helen Boaden. The big message from the Radio 5 live & 5 live Sports Extra controller was that we should stop looking at our fellow radio stations as competition and start working together for the good of the whole industry, suggesting that be done with a shared headline story from the industry every couple of months.
The first of our international speakers appeared next, introducing the musicBan hack from TPC Switzerland. Dominick Born showed us how very quickly and easily they can personalise a radio stream to replace any music a listener has placed on the banned list with one they'd prefer MusicBan.ch
Chris Price spent 24 hours listening to Foo Fighters radio on music streaming services and shared his findings. Turns out the quality really varies, the services try and pump unknown and unpopular stuff out because they're obsessed with discovery over familiarity. And it didn't matter where he said he was listening from, he was given the same small bands either way.
Rupert Brun's problem is that people have different heads and tend to move, which makes it difficult to make binaural work. But with the processing power in a smart phone, so much can now be done to get a real surround sound feel for your favourite horror or "romance" content/
Radiocentre's Clare Bowen played us sex, dogs and rock'n'roll examples of creative and unconventional radio. When does a stick become a branch? Find out on K9FM. Or perhaps tune in to X Men FM instead.
How do you get the best out of your high profile talent? Radio 2 and 6 Music Editor Helen Thomas told us "you're all on the same team", "never give a flat no straight away", "always listen intently to what your presenter is saying", "always bring something extra to the party" and finally "enjoy it!", we don't work in a bank!
Helen Grimes shared a very sad and touching personal story and how the BBC Radio Derby team handled it both on air and off
Neil Cowling, Radioworks, and Ryan Rummery, DAX, asked us to think about how we'd write a car advert for someone who likes cars verses someone who doesn't... Well it's now possible to do that. Personalised ads have a much better impact and are able to charge a premium because of it. With 70% of digital ad spend being done programmatically, it's worth considering!
Tables, tables, tables. Every house has them, but they all have different purposes. Mike Newman told us the same applies to breakfast shows. What features have you got, where are they? Then take a leaf out of Ikea's instuctional pamplets, and try delievering it differently. Finally, how about using table cloth from time to time and giving it a whole new look?
Angela Robson and Showers Jalloh from Pikin to Pikin Tork (childtochild.org.uk) spoke of how they're using radio to reach children in Sierra Leone who's lives have been challenging due to war and ebola. Presented by children, to children, they're reaching out to educate and entertain.
Time for a top 20 run down of the attributes of a great radio presenter? Yes please John Simons. Highlights include being hometown proud, be a strong team, be friends with sales, turn up on time, live like your audience, paint pictures...
3.Talk to one person! Not "the audience"
2. Listen back to your show
1. Have something to say and don't be afraid to say it
How does Premier Radio raise funds on air? Charmaine Noble-McLean and Paul Chantler say it has to be the right way, the right time and the right reason. Tell stories, set achieveable goals, relate the appeal back to how it impacts the listener, keep to script, and remember to thank everyone.
How does one survive over 600 days of hold separate? In order to get his team through it, Chris Stevens spoke of the importance of remembering it WILL END... eventually, that you have to keep things human (listen to people), and you've got to be happy too.
Valerie Gellar had the room transfixed with gems like "The only person who likes change is a wet baby", "There are no boring stories, just boring storytellers", and "you can't overuse the word you". I just need to work out how to paint that as a picture in your brain and/or touch your emotions, because brain science shows that respectively thats the way to reach males and females.
Where will radio be in 10 years? Alan Hannaway of 7Digital believes it'll be more competitive, which is why we need to create a the ultimate feedback loop with our data to truly get to know our audience. Creativity often relies on, and is fueled by, data. And according to the data almost 35% of songs on subscription music streaming services at cut before 30 seconds, what dos that mean for our radio stations? Hopefully more than 30 seconds of listening!!
Tim Zunckel, Programme director of 5FM, gave us his top 5 ways to reach young audiences. After 5FM became the awkward old person still hanging out at clubs, they knew they had to rethink, research, and rebuild their station. They ended up with this TV advert and a whole new roster of relevant presenter talent
What's the stereotypical BBC Local Radio sound? Probably not what Iain Lee and Katherine Boyle put out on BBC Three Counties Radio, and most of it comes about because they work so well as a team, trusting each other gives them content like this, all Iain wanted to know is if Geoff drives slowly.... There was a round of applause in the room when Iain called for more personality in radio too.
With so much effort going into creating content, it deserves to live on and be shared. Ed Hooper, Omny, and Trevor Marshall, JACKfm, find that 2-5 minute chunks are best, there's an art to choosing what to share on which platforms, and guests will often share it out to their audience too!
A video of Tim Cocker's kids ended up viral on the internet. So, how can we produce a viral video? Don't bother. It's like buying a lottery ticket according to Tim, there's no way to predict what'll make it. Stop neglecting the broadcast, go lo-fi and give "your tribe" a glimpse of some real personality. Your audience will appreciate it more. Oh... and as well as being brilliantly entertaining, he's available for work now too.
Talia made a wonderful conference speaker debut with a fun game. Were we able to predict what'll be a banger? Well, time will tell, but Talia and her video cameos from friends in powerful music places say it's all down to having a killer song, the right timing, a great team and new fans getting excited!
Pop up radio, what does it need? Brett Spencer and Al Booth learnt from the BBC Country Radio and Eurovision pop ups that you need a BIG event, set and known outcomes, "it's all about the mothership" (regular mentions and tie ins on the main stations), avoid cliches, "pop ups and social are a marriage made in Nashville".
Jasmine Cox from BBC R&D showed us the playlister button they've been working on. Their physical button and smart watch app allows a listener to mark a point in time in order to bookmark what was playing on the radio at the time. Allowing music discovery to happen when it's not feasible to stop and make a note of what the song was.
Ever taken to Facebook to ask you listeners what's their favourite biscuit is? STOP IT. Videos now getting over 4 billions plays a day on Facebook, and 27% of time spent on a mobile is either Facebook or Instagram. So Facebook's Will Guyatt and LBC's Ian Collins worked together to experiment with what Facebook can do for radio. Turns out quite a lot! Especially when you jump on already trending content or have listeners with an opinion!
Tim Johns from Jeremy Vine's Radio 2 team loves a good package. So he made us one to wrap up and summaries the whole day. Which meant he got to spend most of his session sat in the crowd. Listen to it, it's brilliant!
Another wonderfully curated day, that sped past in a flash. All thanks to James Cridland and Matt Deegan. Do you think they'll be able to make it even bigger and better next year?