Radiocentre’s Siobhan Kenny wraps up radio in 2019

"Is it OK to nominate our own ads for the best of 2019? Because we are not alone in really loving the campaign The&Partnership devised for us. Unblockable, unskippable, unbeatable is the strapline, because that’s what radio is.

It’s there to remind people of the utter fabulousness of the medium of radio, with a playful nod to the cool vibe created by our clever tech friends in Silicon Valley. The campaign has struck a chord internationally and enquiries have flooded in from across the globe, with radio groups anxious to remake them for their own markets. So next time you get exasperated by being asked to ‘Accept Cookies’, spare a thought for the medium which doesn’t ask that of you. Here is a link to those fab ads in full.

Radio is, of course, at the heart and centre of the audio revolution and so much of our activity at Radiocentre is based around reminding people of that, under the banner See Radio Differently.

Our award-winning research Hear and Now proves how hearing ads related to the activity you are engaged in – cooking, driving, exercising – turbocharges the effectiveness of those self-same ads. The Radiocentre team is much in demand on the domestic and international stage presenting those findings. Next year’s programme of research is every bit as ambitious. Our focus is on the local advertising market, especially on the small business sector. Watch this space for some big developments there.

Just because it’s a cliché, doesn’t mean it’s not true. Every business is only as good as the talent it attracts. Radio has traditionally been a magnet for a highly motivated workforce but we know we need to go faster and reach out more to ensure that we attract the very best talent from the widest pool. Ofcom rightly challenges us all on our record on diversity and at Radiocentre, we are determined to push ahead on this agenda.

To complement the Ofcom report, Tuning In to Diversity highlighted the work of the multiple small stations serving hugely diverse audiences around the UK. With Creative Access and the BBC, we ran a series of masterclasses this year and will carry that forward in 2020. The Young Audio Awards are open again and the search is on for the most talented 8-18 year olds making their own radio and audio.

We were blown away by this year’s winners and the prizes they received found them on their own national radio show and on the terraces of the Houses of Parliament.

The fantastic industry-wide initiative highlighting a growing societal problem, the Mental Health Minute, came back for a second year, this time being broadcast on over 500 stations. This brilliant collaboration with the Royal Foundation plays to radio’s strength – the ability to be simultaneously incredibly intimate yet also part of a widely shared experience. The initiative was recognised at the New York Radio Awards and Radiocentre, Somethin’ Else and TBI were awarded the Special Gold Award at the recent APAs. We hope to be able to bring the #MHM back in 2020.

Changes in regulation have this year resulted in the launch of new national breakfast shows many of which have got off to a great start. The commitment to local and regional news remains the same, radio being the most trustworthy source of news updates for listeners, but the changes allow radio operators to use new technology to much greater effect.

Meanwhile the effort to make regulators see sense on the out-of-date regulations which result in lengthy Ts&Cs being added to the end of financial ads continues apace. This project can sometimes feel Sisyphean. You know, the Greek chap who was condemned to push a bolder uphill until almost reaching the top, whereupon down it rolled and he had to start all over again. Successive Ministers throw their weight behind the need to reform. But I guess there are other things going on at present in the world.

I hoped to get to the end without mentioning the B word. The election has now delivered a clear result so let’s see where that leads to for the year ahead. From our perspective, we look forward to working with the not-so new Ministerial team at DCMS.

So on behalf of everyone at Radiocentre, I would like to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and New Year. And in case you needed any more reminding of what we have been up to in 2019, here is our review of the year."

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