Just back from the EBU’s Multimedia Meets Radio in Hilversum which was fascinating on lots of front - including the Sound and Vision building where it was located. Its the national audio visual digital broadcasting archive where decades of Dutch radio and television output is digitised, stored and used. A wonderful public interpretative centre, especially engaging for children, is part of the multicoloured cube building and its frankly something which we in Ireland can only look at in envy.
We were there facilitating the podcasting workshop and showcasing our www.joycesdublin.ie project as well as chairing a discussion with the Apple podcasting team who (because of somewhat restrictive guidelines in Apple) only wanted to be know as ‘Pete’ and ‘James’. Both lovely American guys with proud Irish roots although Pete did get a reaction and causes a lot of tweets when he answered one question about iTunes, podcasting and the future by simply saying ‘we can’t talk about the future. period.’. While Apple were not talking too much about the future many others were including Mark Friend of BBC Interactive who showed us the soon to be released (coming by the end of this year) BBC Radio Player which will allow users to play all forms of radio both public and commercial with added digital extras. One of the most popular presentations was that of Mark Rock of www.audioboo.com which is a simple to use audio-blogging tool which ironically grew from the failed Channel 4 Digital Radio initiative. We loved audioboo and can’t wait to use it in our work and to share it with those who find creating RSS feeds just a little bit too techy. The BBC is using audioboo in promotions and blogs and its rapidly growing across the world. One of the hilarious asides of this seminar was the use of twitter on screen during the two days of workshops. Its quite disconcerting to present to 150 people and see most of them have their heads down furiously tweeting on their iphones or laptops and then seeing a parallel conversation emerge on the twitter screen about your presentation! Many of the conversations, points and twitpics are online under the twitter hash-tag #mmr10 if you want to re-visit the sessions and find out what people were saying and sharing. Or visit the EBU site www.multimediameetsradio.ebu.ch which has trapped all information relating to the event including participants.
So what is the future of radio? Visual, mobile, on-demand, multi-platform and multi-media but retaining its personal, emotion heart which works so well with social networking and social media. One of the key learning curves on the final day was the use of applications via iphones, mobile hand-sets and social media to facilitate radio’s future. Radio’s future is ubiquitous, flowing into every part of the digital landscape and remaining close to users by increasingly opening up interactivity to content-creation. The loser in the digital landscape is DAB which hardly got a mention during the seminar and workshops and indeed the BBC has just announced the closure of two of its DAB Radio family, BBC Radio 6 and Asian Network. The good news from the BBC’s message was that the money stays in digital but will be focussed, supporting the extended digital life of the main radio family rather than growing the empire of stations available from the BBC. The problem, according to Mark Friend, is that digital has moved too slow and the demands of both a terrestrial and online expansion are hurting the industry. The answer, he says, is not to stop or make a choice but to move faster and focus the offerings.