It’s time for talented radio stations to thrive – RadioToday

Ben Cooper, director of content and music for Bauer Media Audio UK, appeared at Radio Academy Festival 2021 to talk about talent and brands, saying now is the time for talent to flourish.

If you missed his session, here it is in full.

“Radio has talent. Radio turns sounds and signals into important moments in your life.

Radio is a talented storyteller. And Radio is a talented survivor. But now it’s time to thrive.

I believe there are three areas our industry needs to focus on if we are to attract talented people to lead radio into a new era of innovation in this ever-changing market.

I have three words, three quotes and three stories for you.

The first word is Curiosity. The first quote is the title of the book titled “What brought us here, will not get us here”. And the first story is about a friend of mine who gave her mom a VR headset to wear in her living room in London, which allowed her to visit a temple in Sri Lanka where she had grown up and explored as a child. . . The virtual trip was both amazing and moving. We concluded that if content is king, then context is its twin.

Therefore, I think the radio industry needs to be more curious if we are to gain new audiences in new ways. The smart phone gave us an app. The smart speaker gave us a skill. But what do you look like in Mark Zuckerberg’s Metaverse?

So get confused before a competitor does. That is why at Bauer we continue to innovate and have launched a Premium subscription service. It’s a new business model that offers listeners free versions of Jazz Fm, Scala, Planet Rock and Kerrang! … All with the possibility of skipping slopes, enjoying new exclusive shows and additional stations. In a world where audiences enjoy ad-free music on streaming services, we need to experiment and deliver more because what got us here won’t get us there.

My second area is Culture. Your employer needs you to have “D&I in your DNA”. The issue of diversity and inclusion is essential for our health as an industry. I went to the Music Week Women in Music Awards last month. Rebecca Frank, who heads Kiss FM, invited two tables of young female hosts from the station. A new generation of diverse broadcasters – some who had started in community radio, others in student radio, one who had worked in retail to support his first businesses, another who was now studying a master’s degree in development sustainable.

This generation will reflect a more realistic national identity with new voices and new stories. But we need diversity of thinking across our business. As an industry, we can’t wait for them to inhabit older stations and leadership roles. We need to do more now, be more attentive, educate ourselves more and ultimately make sure that it is the responsibility of each of us, so that it instinctively becomes part of our business DNA.

At Bauer, we have five pillars supporting different communities with the ability to challenge and change the current situation. Things are going well and I have high hopes. Because if we listen to and respect each other’s stories and personal truths, our content improves, our staff become more confident to get to work, and our culture becomes more collaborative, authentic and courageous.

My third area is creativity. In the media world, where supply exceeds demand, I think “playing it safe is the biggest risk”.

Which brings me to my third story about Magic winning Station of the Year at the ARIAS. Some were surprised, even shocked. They hadn’t heard from the station in a while and were relying on old prejudices.

The Audio Content Fund enables innovation and risk taking. And what Magic had done brilliantly was use the fund to create content that was really connected with its audience and therefore the judges. Content that may not have been considered commercially viable when it was first suggested in a conference room. The F-Word looked at the sensitive issue of fertility in a refreshing and honest way, and our midday newsletters were given to key workers who provided an audio diary of their lives during the lockdown. Public service broadcasting is not the exclusive domain of the BBC in the UK. In fact, at Bauer, we believe in entertaining, informing and inspiring our audience. The fund supports this ambition and that it will last for a long time.

Magic’s creativity also extends to securing awards for our business partnerships. Last year, we teamed up with Netflix to promote Will Ferrell’s film “Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga”. When Eurovision itself was canceled due to the pandemic, our teams created something new, unique and totally immersive that took advantage of die-hard Eurovision fans. Magic: Eurosong is Born – a pop-up radio station that aired Eurovision’s biggest songs, interviewed film stars, and engaged fans through contests and quizzes.

Playing it safe with your brand is the biggest risk. You have to offer surprises and depth. Creativity will make you stand out in a crowded market.

Radio has talent because of the people who work there. The good news is that radio is attracting a new, more diverse generation of talented broadcasters and practitioners. And with a combination of curiosity and creativity, we will enter a new era of innovation. I can’t wait to hear it.

You can find out more about Ben Cooper in the next edition of the RadioToday podcast recorded at the Radio Academy Festival in London this week with Stuart Clarkson. It will be released on Friday.

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