26 September 2012
On my way to Turin recently, for Eurovision Media’s flagship Multimedia Meets Radio event, I noticed a glossy magazine that invited readers to find out, "Which Justin Bieber song are you?" I resisted the temptation to take the test as I am not very familiar with Mr. Bieber’s work, but it did inspire me to try to think of a song that might sum up the conference.
This year it took place in Turin at the kind invitation of the Prix Italia, a week-long celebration of the very best content on radio, television and online. You might have thought that the sheer energy and festival atmosphere of the Prix Italia might have induced me to pick something like Carl Orff’s ‘Carmina Burana’.
I am not that sophisticated. Instead, I plumped for a more recent song called ‘Stereo Hearts’.
My choice had nothing to do the fact that the performers, Gym Class Heroes, like Eurovision, hail from Geneva – albeit Geneva, New York, in the case of the American band. The reason is the song’s refrain - its ‘hook’:
"Make me your radio
And turn me up when you feel low."
It may not be high art, but it encapsulates everything that is special about radio: I cannot imagine somebody singing, "Make me your television". The magic of radio is that it somehow manages to create the illusion that it is speaking to each individual listener.
Radio is supremely mobile and can accompany its audience wherever they are and whatever they are doing, but this intimacy with its audience is the medium’s unique selling proposition. It is a strength that needs to be preserved as we develop tomorrow’s radio.
At the heart of Multimedia Meets Radio is the idea that although the medium’s future is multiplatform, hybrid and digital, we must make sure that it will always be recognizable as radio.
The challenge is to preserve radio’s strengths while continuing to move with the times. Eurovision Media Director, Annika Nyberg, expressed this idea very succinctly in her keynote speech in Turin.
"Radio does not exist on an island," she said. "We are in a multimedia age where radio, television and the Internet share the same platforms and more importantly, the same users."
Some of those users, especially teenagers and young adults, have been consuming less television and radio, in favour of platforms like YouTube and Spotify. Keeping radio relevant is also about winning over those listeners.
Tomas Granryd told the conference how Swedish Radio had turned Spotify from a perceived threat into an exciting opportunity for doing just that.
With him was Spotify’s Sung-Kyu Choi, who confirmed that they had welcomed Swedish Radio’s idea to share comedy clips and other short formats via the streaming platform. He was at pains to stress that a radio partnership with Spotify was no different from a television station working with Facebook or YouTube.
The Apple iTunes podcasting workshop and the SoundCloud session was also about partnerships to help broadcasters reach out to new audiences. Achieving relevance through innovation was the theme of excellent presentations from the BBC, BNR, Radio France, RAI, RTS and Public Radio of Armenia, as well as Fun Kids, Talk About Local, TPC AG and MX3.CH.
All the presentations are available to conference delegates and EBU Members, while we hope that video from the event will be ready shortly. There was a lot of social media activity around the conference and we thought long and hard about using Storify’s brilliant tools to report the conference through the prism of Twitter.
In the end, though, we opted for the very clever but less well-known tweet-book.it application, which allows users to create a more permanent and visually attractive record: