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Dixon Sees Upkeep of Critical Faculties as Key for Radio

“We need to ask whether the media sources we access are presenting us with a wide range of opinions”

Graham Dixon is head of radio for the European Broadcasting Union.

What’s in store for the radio industry in 2018? Over the next few weeks, we’re publishing a series of interviews with thought leaders from around the globe in various segments of our business. We ask them to weigh in about specific trends and stories they’ll be watching this year. Graham Dixon is head of radio for the European Broadcasting Union.

Radio World: What do you see as the most pressing technology challenge facing radio broadcasters in 2018?
Graham Dixon: Voice-activation appears to be a game-changer, not just a passing fad. The good news is that there is evidence that households with such devices are consuming more audio — this is good news for radio!Here at the European Broadcasting Union we are keen to understand, participate and leverage the opportunities this offers, and have just founded a new working group — VOX — to bring together expertise in this area.

RW: What consumer electronics trends will have the most impact on how consumers interact with radio and audio media?
Dixon: The convenience that voice activation offers to users is proving highly attractive, and the functionality is spreading to other devices; the Alexa phenomenon now manifests in various guises. This, combined with the possibilities offered by AI, will fundamentally change the relationship between users and their devices.

RW:What do you think will be the prevailing tech trends for the next three years?
Dixon: Apart from voice-activation, digital radio is finally on the move, offering a stable platform with more spectrum, and the opportunity to launch new services, offering listeners an enriched experience. The core territories are well known, but we are seeing DAB move forward in Bulgaria, Ukraine, Croatia, Greece and Jordan. All this is very encouraging.

RW: What major technologies are affecting the radio industry on a global level?
Dixon: Radio continues to adapt well to social media, making producers think in a more visual way in highlighting distinctive and eye-catching material outside the linear channel, while still preserving the centrality of the human voice and musical performance. It is exciting to see how increasingly radio is no longer associated with a particular type of box!

RW: Where do you learn about new technology each year, what trade shows or information sources?
Dixon: Great colleagues at the EBU and our member organizations, and our own EBU network of radio innovators, the New Radio Group.

RW: What else should Radio World readers keep on their radar?
Dixon: We all need to retain our critical faculties, question where our information is coming from, ask whether the media sources we access are presenting us with a wide range of opinions. Radio should be broadening our minds, not reinforcing our preconceptions — let’s keep it like that!