Tune in: Top 6 insights for audio journalism in 2016

Originally published at www.globaleditorsnetwork.org: 17 March 2016

Photo credit: Radiodays Europe

1. Podcasts are not a fluke nor a bubble, they’re here to stay.

Podcast listenership has been on a steady rise for the past ten years. For a number of reasons (the “Serial” craze, the iPhone Podcasts app) podcasts’ popularity rose sharply in 2015, but don’t expect it to be dropping off in 2016. Thanks to advances such as dynamic ad insertion, monetisation prospects are looking good for podcasting as a sustainable investment.

See our interview with audio expert Siobhan McHugh (Editor, Radio Doc Review) on podcasting trends for 2016. Siobhan will also be moderating the session “Podcasting: Principles, Profits and Pitfalls” at the GEN Summit 2016 — register now!

2. Prototype, share, create

Speakers from in-house innovation labs from the BBC and Belgian broadcaster VRT both stressed the importance of prototypes and user feedback. If your organisation is launching a new product or service, you shouldn’t hesitate to share it with your audience along the way. Don’t be afraid to put out something that’s less than perfect — users will offer valuable advice on the next version.

Similarly, as a manager, you should create a workspace around “the 13th idea”. According to Dean Cappello, CCO of WNYC, taking inspiration from Radiolab host Jad Abumrad, a newsroom should offer a balance between structure and freedom that allows for twelve bad ideas, the thirteenth being the winner.

3. Successful podcasts aren’t radio repackaged

If you want to tap into the very loyal and engaged audience of podcast listeners, you’re going to have to produce content specifically for this non-linear format. As Dean Cappello pointed out, “You can’t do podcasting as a sideline and succeed.” On the other hand, radio replay can be a good content offering for your radio listeners, but it is distinct from podcast-native content in its sound, feel and audience.

4. Try a single-topic model

If you are flirting with the idea of new audio content but find the commitment to a regular production schedule daunting, a short-term or single-topic project may be the solution. Born out of the European refugee crisis, Rozana Radio, based in Paris, has a programmation crafted with the needs of the Syrian community in mind. As founder Lina Chawar pointed out, Rozana Radio gives a voice to those who wouldn’t otherwise have one. NPR’s Politics Podcast is another example of a topical model, launched last December during the lead-up to the U.S. presidential elections. By focusing on one issue or topic, radio and podcast producers can deliver content that will have a greater impact on their listeners.

5. Driverless cars threaten the radio industry

Will video finally kill the radio star? Cilla Benkö, Director General of Swedish Radio, warned that driverless technology is not as distant as you might think. Driverless cars mean that passengers are free to interact with screens, which could spell big trouble for audio content. Mid to long-term strategies should be proactive instead of reactive on the threat of driverless cars while there’s still time.

Cilla Benkö, at Radiodays Europe

6. Give your archived content new life

New on-demand platforms give broadcasters and producers the ability to put audio content right at their audiences’ fingertips (or ears). This way, old content that was once destined to remain in an archive indefinitely can once again serve to actively engage users on certain topics of interest. Such is the case of Radio Canada’s newly-launched Première Plus service, which allows users to rediscover past emissions through categorised “Collections” that compile content from different programmes that touch on the same theme.

Radiodays organiser James Cridland spoke to us about the importance to taking advantage of your archive and other topics — interview here.