Northern Voice 2009 Making the Radio Station of the Future Steve Pratt


Saturday, February 21st, 2009 — 11:00am PST
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“Traditional corporations have been doing this for a long time – there’s science behind it, they know what they’re doing.” Steve’s opening comment is following by a “ha” from the audience.

“I think before we define the worst, I think we should define what would make it the best.” Steve Pratt starts off showing promo shots for morning shows on radio stations, from Dano and Jono to the nugget. The all request lunch hour, the all request electric lunch. Then there’s “the wacky morning show idea the morning zoo,” followed by other formats and re-hashed formats.

Truths of private radio:

  • Formats = advertising demographics
  • Music Choices = labels and focus groups
  • Songs get repeated a LOT
  • Minimum Canadian music
  • Minimum unknown artists “because they don’t like to discover something new”
  • Everything is about listening to traditional radio (AM/FM)
  • It is defined by the platform
  • What would be the Worst. Radio Station. Ever?

  • Play 100% Canadian music
  • Play emerging artists
  • Play wide variety of genres
  • Repeat songs infrequently giant music library to choose from
  • Not AM or FM
  • Entire music library would be user-generated
  • Content is shared (without DRM)
  • Who is dumb enough to make the worst radio station ever? Good news, it’s your public broadcaster, the CBC. “The CBC is that dumb,” says Pratt who will discuss CBC Radio 3.

    It’s not a podcast, it’s not a radio station and it’s not a website. “We are experts in new Canadian music.” They “put it out to people wherever it makes sense.” They define themselves on content rather than platform and offer multiple formats and mutiple ways to consume the content, “think about the audience and don’t force people down a certain path – let them have the choice.”

    Steve describes different types of audience members (passive vs active): grazers, full meals, lurkers, active participants, community members – you want to make it friendly for all of those. “The majority tend to be a lot more passive – and we try to be a good filter.” Radio 3 also tries to enhance the interactivity of radio, “accessibility is key.” Also, “celebrate participation, celebrate evangelism when it happens,” it all helps to engage and enhance the audience experience.

    Steve says that they need to be grateful for the people who submit their content and also shares Radio 3’s “dumb” goals for being the worst radio station:

  • Iisn’t to make money
  • Audiences and artists are the main stakeholders and the goal is to create value for them
  • Rewarded with relevancy and trust
  • “We want to change the way people think about Canadian music.” He adds, “There’s such amazing music getting made in this country that nobody ever hears.”

    Because they are a public broadcaster Steve says, “You’re all paying for this, come on in and help us shape the face of Canadian music.”

    What are they going to do next? They’re going to make it “worse”. They will add more of a community but not so much a free-for-all. From the mock up Steve puts on screen it looks more like a personal profile page including, “what I’m listening to” and “what concerts I’m going to” elements.

    Unfortunately the internet connection is being spotty so I am unable to finish updating in real time – sorry Steve!

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