PARIS —Radiodays Europe 2016 brought together radio industry professionals from around the world for three days of discussion regarding radio’s present and future.
Among top news during the event was the release of the world’s first mass-market smartphone with DAB+ digital radio.
The chipset in the new LG Stylus 2 smartphone will include DAB+ capability. For phones sold on certain networks in the United Kingdom and Norway, an automatically installed “hybrid” version of the Radioplayer app will switch intelligently between broadcast DAB and streaming.
The app scans for available free-to-air DAB stations in the background. When a listener selects a station, the app automatically plays the broadcast version if available. If the signal degrades as the phone moves around, the app switches to streaming and monitors the station on DAB in the background. Once the signal strengthens again, the app automatically switches back to the free-to-air DAB feed.
The hybrid approach, developed by Radioplayer in collaboration with the International DMB Advancement Group (IDAG) and All In Media, gives users a “connected” interface with personalized recommendations and favorites, while broadcast DAB audio uses less data and battery power than streaming. Radioplayer claims that in early tests of the new hybrid app, playing a station over DAB was found to use five times less battery power than streaming the same station over 4G.
Elsewhere at the Radiodays conference, BBC Director of Radio Helen Boaden made a passionate defense of BBC Radio in the face of commercial and political pressure. Boaden said the BBC “must embrace shifts in technology and we must cherish our unique relationship with our audiences.”
She set out ideas for what the BBC might offer in the future, such as a personalized radio station for every listener, based on what they like listening to, and combining live and on-demand audio with music playlists and regular updates.
The BBC is also developing a digital music proposal with the British music industry, which Boaden said, would make the 50,000 tracks it broadcasts every month available to listen online, for a limited period.
Personalization was also part of a session called “What’s Cooking in the Radio Labs”, with Natacha Mercure and Robert Nadeau from Radio-Canada discussing the development of Première Plus - the first free digital on-demand French-speaking radio service.
The service is designed to let users personalize it to suit their needs and interests, designing a playlist by adding or removing content and organizing it according to the time available for listening.
Listeners can also choose from playlists organized around 11 different themes, such as arts, business, environment or family. All the content has been chosen and classified by ICI Radio-Canada Première creators commissioned to develop and supply the interface, for which they have editorial responsibility.
Meanwhile, Graham Dixon, head of Radio at the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) used his speech to emphasize the importance of the medium in emergencies, such as the attacks in Paris last November.
He said that “radio is flexible, portable, local, and can be produced cheaply and swiftly, and — in troubled, dangerous situations — discretely, transmitting quality audio from an iPhone is perfectly possible.” He added: “it is precisely in such moments that we are reminded why a strong, efficient and dedicated media infrastructure is vital.”