New strategies to reach and grow audiences: RDE24

Day 2 of Radiodays Europe 2024 featured panel sessions discussing many of the biggest issues and topics for the broadcast industry. Radio executives from Sweden, Germany, France and the European Broadcasting Union came together to speak to the present and future for the stations they represent.

Moderator Martin Liss started proceedings by asking the panel what they perceived as the greatest challenges and their response to it.

Cilla Benkö is the CEO of Swedish Radio, a role she has held for the last 12 years. While the core business of radio is thriving, 180 jobs have recently been cut.

Benkö said the challenge was to facilitate innovation and creativity within staff across multi platforms and making sure each area of their audio business was producing the best content to the market.

Charles-Emmanuel Bon is the Secretary General of Radio France. He said that radio needs to “be clearer in how we promote what we do”. He saw one of the biggest challenges facing radio as enticing youth and suggested that there is an as yet largely untapped opportunity for audio and radio to be presented to parents as an alternative to screens with then those children the next generation of avid audio consumers.

Mattias Pfaff the CDO of REGIOCAST said that with so many threads (digital/streaming/website/news/podcasts etc) now a part of one radio station it is essential to develop a strategy that fits your company rather than copies someone else’s. He spoke of two new production studios recently set up and opened in Hamburg and Berlin that are 2.4 square metres with an open kitchen so staff can cook together (this is a Scandinavian thing, he informed us). These small spaces are far removed from the traditional 300 square metre studios that would house a radio station. He feels smaller and more inclusive spaces both make people want to come into work, and are the way of radio’s future and the technology becomes increasingly mobile.

Jean Philip De Tender is the Deputy Director General with the EBU based in Switzerland. He too said the lightning speed of changes to technology means radio both needs to be more mobile to move closer to their audiences and that the boundary between audio and video has vanished. He felt radio has learned from the past and is better skilled to adapt to change and quickly through effective strategies first, then implementing people and technology.

Guy Fränkel is the Managing Director of rock stations ROCK ANTENNE. With a clear awareness of his male skewed audience he said focusing on your target audience was most important and building a community around them. He also made the point that with fewer jobs there was greater need for internal and external collaboration, sometimes being prepared to reach out to a competitor to find new ways of adding benefit to the listeners and broader audience.

The conversation wrapped up with thought on what radio will look like in five years time and future strategies. Pfaff mentioned the smaller studios with Bon adding that stations will be lighter in staff, technology and floor space with silo management systems being eradicated and teams more cross functional, which is what was the norm for many of the older generation of broadcasters anyway.

Benkö said stations will have no “spare parts” and it is likely with less hardware and more software that a physical house for a radio station may no longer be a necessity. She also said that Swedish Radio has got rid of all prerecorded audio seeing a point of difference in targeting people who don’t want to miss out by being present and on the ground.

There was also discussion on the benefits of well run events featuring star talent, not just to the big cities but out to the regions with Benkö and Fränkel saying that such events they’d coordinated were consistently pack and excellent for advertisers and market building.

Pictured L-R: Guy Fränkel, Matthais Pfaff, Jean Philip De Tender, Charles-Emmanuel Bon, Cilla Benkö and Martin Liss.



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