Apple’s rebirth, post the return of Steve Jobs, came from its simplicity. When he returned, he stripped down their line-up to four areas.
He was a big fan of simplicity:
That’s been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: you have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.
Donald Trump has been good for the news business. A crazy imperial leader, fawning courtiers and a strong resistance has meant a 24 hour-a-day reality show for news channels and publishers to cover. His desperation to lead the news, meant he generated it, all day every day.
In America, it’s meant that the news channels are riding high in ratings and revenue. CNN, MSNBC and Fox News have done well by following one story – a soap opera where you can tune to the channel to get your point of view reflected. Indeed, Fox News is doing so well that it’s Primetime line-up of propagandists are getting better ratings than the evening line-up on broadcast entertainment channels ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox.
Watching the presidential election night, er, week, unfold we were pretty glued to CNN at our house. This is partly due to the other’s half’s contractual obligation, but also because they did a great job on-air.
I was part of a fun Zoom call over the weekend. It was to celebrate 21 years of Digital One. They’re the people that run the first national digital radio multiplex – that’s the one that broadcasts Classic FM and Kisstory (amongst others) on DAB radio.
You might think it’s strange to have a party for a multiplex, or a number of transmitters, but really it was a party for the people who’ve been employed with (or near) it over the last two decades. There were about 25 of us on the call.
Like all these things, it was fun to see a lot of old faces and virtually catch-up, alongside occasional appearances of kids topping up wine, or dogs drifting into shot. But what was really nice, was to contemplate the effect that these people, most of whom you won’t know, had on the radio industry as it is today.
In my day job I speak to A LOT of people who would like to launch a radio station. We broadcast stations on our multiplexes and we sometimes provide consultancy advice to new startups. Probably over the last twenty years, I must have talked to 500 people who were keen to get a station on air.
Olivia, who used to work with us, and would often get to the phone before me, started to have an almost mystical ability to tell whether a group were going to make it, by chatting to them for 20 seconds before putting them through.
So if you don’t have Olivia’s supernatural insight, what’s the key to being able to launch a radio station?
One of the things that I enjoy doing the most is helping to nurture the British Podcast Awards. We’ve just had our fourth ceremony and it was the biggest yet, even though this year it had to be virtual.
The UK podcast sector is pretty diverse, from established radio operators like the BBC, to print publishers like The Times, from indie audio companies to individuals as well as some of the biggest technology companies in the world. Our job is try and create something that reflects them all and provides a meeting place for the sector. We are, as we often say, a big tent.
A flurry of activity on social media last week, as Spotify’s Wrapped told users about their most listened to music and podcasts. Many then shared it across the internet. What’s great about this is that it surfaces different, personalised recommendations.
It’s a notable piece of activity because, in general, podcast discoverability remains pretty limited.
All content businesses have seen huge changes over the last ten years. Much of this is driven by a combination of the advertising market and changing consumer behaviour. Radio and audio is no different.
In the radio market, for thirty-odd years, the revenue has been split between local and national advertising. If you’re a station in Weymouth, you’ll have your own sales team who will make calls and knock on doors to tell potential customers the benefits of advertising on your station. Aware that national advertisers will also want to advertise on your station, but knowing they don’t really have the ability to negotiate deals with over 100 radio stations, you delegate some space on your station to a national sales house.
I don’t think I’ve met a person, of any age, who isn’t up for a spirited chat about songs on the radio.
Radio’s pretty pervasive in the UK. 89% of the population listen to at least five minutes a week and even 82% of 15-24s tune in at some point. Music makes up a large proportion of what’s played, so it’s no surprise everyone has an opinion.
So what’s the best way to pick songs for the radio?