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Seven themes for radio from Radiodays Europe 2015

Seven themes for radio from Radiodays Europe 2015

Radiodays Europe – reportedly the world’s largest radio conference – took place in Milan last week.

It was a hectic and fantastic few days, where everyone was buzzing with positive energy.

There were so many sessions it was impossible to get to everything. However, here are seven themes I detected that seemed to crop up again and again:

Being yourself

Be you, all the time.

This is important on or off air.

You are enough. You don’t need to be somebody else.

Your workplace environment is important

–       Know your team upside-down and inside out (Elvis Duran, Z100, USA).

–       Have a strong ethos of how you want your workplace to be.

Google and Pixar both have the mission of ‘Thinking Differently’ woven into their ways of working.

What does your station value about the working environment? How can you create a strong vision together?

The more you and your team understand a station’s key values, the less direct management each person requires.

Startups in the newsroom

A theme that came up several times – do you have a ‘startup’ inside your organisation?

Examples included VRT Start-up in Belgium and Storyful – places where you can experiment away from the ‘big’ station brand and try new things.

Importantly, you must have a process for handing the things that work over to the main part of the company as quickly as possible.

Failure is good

Linked to this is the idea that failing is succeeding.

Ulla Svensson from Swedish Radio reminded us that IKEA executives celebrate items that don’t work – you need flops to have successes.

Pixar has a similar approach – they have a theory that new ideas need protection, because they are very fragile.

Psychologist Adam Ferrier asked the delegates to ‘find strength in their weaknesses’ – how can your ‘dark side’ be used for good?


Anna Sale from WNYC's Death, Sex and Money podcast, speaking at Radiodays Europe 2015
Anna Sale from WNYC’s Death, Sex and Money podcast, speaking at Radiodays Europe 2015

Radio is a meeting place, a shelter for the lonely.

What are you doing to connect with your audience? Do you even like them?

The Chris Evans Breakfast Show (UK) has sequences that mention place names across the UK for an instant feeling of connection.

Elvis Duran (USA) wants his show to feel like the ‘family breakfast table’.

Storyful thinks that ‘every story creates a community’.

Anna Sale from WNYC summed up her philosophy on podcasting beautifully:

Your job is to create community by making great audio.

(Anna Sale, WNYC, USA)

Cue Massive Producer Crush.

Children on air

A theme which was pleasing to me as a children’s radio specialist and advocate – children really do listen to the radio.

Children make up about two thirds of the listenership to radio in Germany, and a story competition at the largest radio station in the UK got over 120,000 entries.

NDR wants to encourage child listeners, as they are the ‘future of radio’.

What are you doing to encourage children’s voices on the air?

Think about ‘why’

–       The why of the story.

–       Your ‘why’ for being in radio.

Why are you doing this? Do you need to take some time out to recharge and reflect?

Elvis Duran nearly quit radio – until September 11 happened and he reconnected with his ‘why’ in radio.

What’s your why?


Some inspirational quotes from some of the speakers:

We don’t work in a bank – we have the best job in the world!

(Helen Thomas, BBC Radio 2, UK)

Technology is the campfire around which we tell stories.

(Sam Crowther, Bauer, UK)

You can play a profound role in people’s lives – if you choose to. What would your audience miss if you weren’t there?

(Adam Ferrier, Psychologist, Australia)

You weren’t made to sit around an automatic computer system. You were made to make radio. Go out and do it!

(Final session)


I had a very enjoyable time – for once, there seemed to be more sessions where I was nodding along in vehement agreement than filled with despair about the Impending Doom Of Radio As A Medium (much reported, not yet happening).

Radiodays’ theme was ‘Passion meets progress’ and there was definitely a lot of the former on display in all of the presentations.

Next year, the event will take place in Paris.  Trip to Disneyland, anyone…?

What do you think? Were you at Radiodays? What was your favourite session? Please let me know by leaving a comment below.

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