By Mihle Zinziswa Bango

Radio futurologist, James Cridland started of his presentation by defining radio as a shared experience which creates a connection with it’s audience. This according to him is what gives radio the advantageous and competitive edge.

Cridland is one among two of the world’s radio futurologists. He started off his career in radio, then went on to launch the world’s first mobile phone. Among many other stellar career highlights, he also produces a daily podcasting newsletter.

“Radio is listened to 9 out of 10 people in the world.”, Clidland announced.

He said a study carried out in the UK showed that there is crises of young people not tuning into radio anymore because they consume their music and satisfy their appetite for content through other means such as on their mobile phones, online, etc. However he emphasized that the onus is then on radio producers to create content that can be consumed in alternative and various ways.

Consumer behaviours vary between various age groups. The year 2016 saw live streaming decrease as a competing consumption model and this was a result of a decline in radio consumption due to the usage of smart phones.  A shift towards consuming radio through the use of smart speakers also brought forth an interesting dynamic which boosted radio listenership.

Cridland suggested infusing packaged interviews and music and additional sound bites for far more interesting interviews instead of the mundane way in which interviews are currently being produced. He added that this will require content producers and radio producers to up the ante in giving their audiences something that can’t be emulated.

He further warned that the future of radio should not be reliant on music alone, instead radio should include shared experiences and human interaction in order to thrive.

Nevertheless his audience asked about the African context and how these developments may affect areas with less infrastructure. The futurologist firmly affirmed the importance of FM radio transmission, stating that digital is an expansion of radio and should therefore be used in addition to traditional radio broadcasting.

Edited by: Bridget Lepere