Cilla Benkö, Director General Swedish Radio, delivered the keynote address at the opening of Radiodays Europe today in Malmö.
She began her address recapping the invasion of Ukraine on February 24th at 4am, bringing war to Europe.
Eight minutes later, Swedish Radio cleared their talk station P1 of regular programming to broadcast non-stop for the next 48 hours covering the invasion, using correspondents on the ground and local voices giving local perspectives from local channels, as well as in-depth analysis from internal and external experts.
Benkö says that during this 48 hour period, SR’s P1 gained 400,000 to 500,000 new listeners that “…didn’t come from another Swedish radio channel, they didn’t come from commercial radio either.”
She urged the audience to remember that they all have “…colleagues on the ground in Ukraine covering the war, giving the public historical voices and historical perspectives and while we are sitting here in comfort they are taking a huge risk and are in huge danger.”
She says that audio is now booming with rapid growth like never before and that “Never before have there been so many players investing in sound, both public service and commercial. We have ordinary radio channels on on-demand offerings such as podcasts and news clips, and audio books.
“Listeners have an enormous amount to choose from.”
Seeing Spotify as the biggest competitor for radio, Benkö says radio has to continue to grow and change, but that its connection to the listener remains radio’s biggest strength, but says that radio stations “…need to develop linear formats while at the same time spearheading new on-demand formats.”