What’s Next (for) Rad.io?

So, apart from a clever name, what will the Next Rad.io conference bring us?

Loads of “suits” talking the same old stuff that pours out of “industry” gatherings? Great ideas that are all well and good if you have huge budgets and unending resources? Or something else?

It’s designed for people who like radio, who want to be inspired by new ideas, who recognise that technology will help it to change and adapt and for those who want to meet like minded people.

I’m hugely looking forward to this conference. And I’m really glad that James Cridland and Matt Deegan are putting it on. This promises to be a great place for discussing new ideas, looking at things in a new way, and making new contacts. If I was starting out, this would be the place I’d be heading; loads of people who actually “do” radio thinking about how we can make radio better.

And there is a future for radio.

Sure, there’s lots of doom-laden statistics floating around about how younger listeners are failing to engage with radio. But not all of them. And only if radio refuses to engage with them, interact with them on the platforms that they hang out on, and actually deliver them the content they want to hear.

And radio still is radio. But it can be enhanced in many different ways. And let’s face it, whilst some people may sneer at the many ways that stations like Radio 1 and others have used to “visualise” radio, what they are doing now is really just a natural extension of what has been done in the past. From meeting listeners at the County show or the Radio 1 Roadshow at Great Yarmouth Beach, to the BBC radio Solent magazine that I remember buying as a child – they are all ways of extending the reach of the radio station.

But the biggest positive I have taken from the last few months is that fact that my daughter (8) has now decided that she wants to be on the radio and maybe run her own radio station.

This interest was started when she came to visit me at work way back when I was at Capital FM. She was 3 – and recorded 3 links which we made into a radio show for her to play in the car. She was also fascinated last time that Radio 1 did their Access All Areas week – as can be heard in this recording as she describes watching Newsbeat going out online.

Now, she has taken it one step further. Over the last few weeks, she has been recording her own radio show. She brainstormed what sort of features she wanted to run, what music she wanted to play (mostly the Capital playlist) and even how she wanted to broadcast (she wants to be on Red Button and can’t understand why it’s a bit complicated to make that happen).

Radio Victory Car Sticker

She’s now started to learn how to make a radio show – in basic form using Garage Band to drag in songs and record her links. She’s even recorded a report from her day out at Brands Hatch a few weeks ago. Now whilst this isn’t necessarily radio in its truest form, it’s no different from back when I was her age, where I recorded the ads and jingles off Radio Victory, and sat in my bedroom playing tunes off a battery powered record player, talking to no-one except my brother, and playing in ads from an old mono cassette recorder. The difference is, now, that I can record her and share a little of it with you.

So, it’s a bit rough around the edges. But she wrote the jingle, recorded the keyboard part, selected the samples and the instruments and the sound effects. And she loved it.

Maybe Next Radio or an event like it will inspire her in the future to do it for real. But only if we all help make it a reality for Megan and her Generation  – and keep making radio a medium that is relevant to them as well as us.

You can follow all things nextrad.io on Twitter @thisisnextradio and the conference hashtag is #nextradio  Radio Today are covering it live here. I’ll be there, doubtless tweeting interesting bits. If you’re coming, it’ll be nice to catch up – and if you’re not, hopefully you’ll learn something useful.

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