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Next Radio Conference Finds Medium In Good Health

New cloud-based automation system launched by RCS at event

LONDON — The annual Next Radio event bills itself as “the radio ideas conference”, and the ideas, statistics and announcements come thick and fast in quick-fire nine or eighteen-minute sessions throughout the day.

The conference, held in London’s historic Royal Institution, saw the launch of the first professional cloud-based radio automation system, by RCS President and CEO, Philippe Generali. RCS says that the new system is the first of its kind to be able to import GSelector logs, the first to be able to integrate traffic, and the first to feature voice-tracking in the cloud.

Generali set out the top ten reasons why radio groups were considering cloud services instead of on-premises installations. As well as savings on traditional equipment, it would mean that radio groups could quickly create new channels, and customers would always be on the same product version. Generali added: “RCS believes that early adopters are expected to consider cloud-based playout for disaster recovery backup.”

Elsewhere at the conference, consultant Ande Macpherson demonstrated the use of chat bot surveys, such as Surveybot, on Facebook Messenger to test music for radio stations — he argued that only the best songs in the right order would nowadays compete against the likes of Spotify. He emphasized the importance of knowing your audience, your music and your data.

Speakers also covered the emergence of “event radio” — significant engaging features that worked across platforms including video and social media, as well as providing compelling audio. Ollie Wards highlighted the huge impact of the annual “Hottest 100” chart on ABC station triple j in Australia, with 30 per cent of 18-34 year-olds listening on the day. He said a sense of history, audience participation, conversation and transparency all helped build the event.

Meanwhile, Aled Haydn Jones from BBC Radio 1 said these events should be about “FOMO” — fear of missing out — and creating a shared experience across the audience. International consultant Valerie Geller echoed this, with her familiar advice of “Tell the truth, make it matter, and never be boring”, adding that there are no boring stories, just boring storytellers.

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The day confirmed the strength and endurance of radio. John Carroll, Global Director for Business Development and Media Measurement at GfK, argued that young people have not “fled” radio, with research showing radio still reaches 83 per cent of 13-14 year-olds in the United Kingdom each week, while 62 percent claimed to listen to downloaded or streamed music. Carroll said when you looked behind the numbers, it was clear that great engaging radio remains in good health.