Changing Trends and new Technologies challenge Adventist Radio Producers in Europe

Changing Trends and new Technologies challenge Adventist Radio Producers in Europe

The radio 2.0 team [Photos: Victor Hulbert]

Organised by Adventist World Radio and the Inter-European Division, and hosted by the Romanian Union and Speranta TV.

May 15, 2017 | Bern, Switzerland. | V. Hulbert, TED NEWS, EUD NEWS.

The world of radio is changing. Analogue is switching to digital with AM and FM transmissions switching to DAB, online and broadcast-on-demand services. The listener has more choice and in the youngest age-group, teenagers, only 3% listen to live radio. Spotify and social media fulfil their needs. The audience, and audience expectations are changing.

Where does that leave Adventist broadcasters? That was a question posed to forty-one radio producers and media experts in a Pan-European Radio Consultation held in Bucharest, Romania, 7-10 May, 2017. Organised by Adventist World Radio and the Inter-European Division, and hosted by the Romanian Union and the Speranta TV (Hope Channel) media centre, participants from Latvia in the north, Moldova in the east, through to Portugal in the south-west, were exposed to the latest trends, challenged to update their broadcasting styles, tested through a series of workshops, and introduced to the idea of Radio 2.0 – where web-cams or full blown TV cameras are added to a radio environment, giving opportunity for greater interaction with listeners.

Juris Karčevskis and Agris Janišauskis from Latvia expressed how much they “truly appreciated to have experienced lecturers and those informal and invaluable conversations. We felt deep interest from our team members in finding technical solutions and ideas for improving our studio work.” Coming from a small country with a limited Adventist media presence they were delighted to find themselves among enthusiastic people with creative and often simple solutions.

Nicolas Moulard, one of the foremost proponents of Radio 2.0 in Europe and a new media consultant, led several major sessions. In his keynote address he pointed out that in France there are 25.5 million digital audio listeners, representing 50% of the 15+ age group. He also noted that on-demand has seen a 76% increase and that in developing content, broadcasters and communicators must consider ‘mobile first’ as that is now where the largest number of people access content.

Moulard also emphasises the need to ‘be social’, noting that whether you like it or not, Facebook is the number 1 social media site. “There is a need to go where your audience is,” he emphasised. In the fight for attention, he explained that audio is now being created directly for social media and that it may sound quite different to the radio experience.

That doesn’t mean radio is dead, but that it has to adapt. Tune in to BBC radio or any major broadcaster and you will find presenters pointing listeners towards websites and social media links, and very often giving an opportunity for listeners to watch or interact via a video link. Small broadcasters are also finding, what is called the ‘Radio 2.0’ experience, to be beneficial.

David Elisabeth from Radio AdventLife, Paris, France, knows this all too well. “In this modern world everything can change in a blink of an eye,” he says. “I have learned the importance of being connected with my audience even outside of the studio.” Camille Decure adds, “This allows us not to see radio as an end in itself, but as an area where everything remains to be done.”

David Hermy runs a small Adventist radio station in St Malo, northern France. Two Go-Pro cameras in his studio give listeners an enhanced experience. “I found it difficult at first,” he confessed, “it meant being more conscious of the visual look of the studio. Do I look at the camera or focus on the microphone? How do I control yet another set of buttons in a self-driven studio?” Yet now he would not be without it. Some of his podcasts and interviews with local celebrities have gone viral – including one with a cat in the studio.

Speranta TV in Romania and RCS Radio in Portugal have taken it even further. They combine radio and TV in the same studio, being conscious of both audiences in joint productions that feed their FM audience and Hope Channel on their TV sets or computer screens.

Such convergence gives more opportunity for interaction, and as a result, for witness. Stefan Stanciu, who is part of a team aiming to launch a digital station in London says, “This conference has been invaluable – it has shown practical ways in which we can work. Thank you for organising this fantastic training event.” As part of a team that are new to radio he says, “For us it has been fantastic to listen and network with those who are more experienced. Nicolas' presentations were inspiring and gave birth to plenty of great ideas we could implement.” He was also inspired by AWR engineer, Daryl Gungadoo sharing radio examples from across Europe and the world – and then challenging producers to good practice in their areas.

The conference did have its moments of fun. A workshop led by the EUD and TED Communication directors, Corrado Cozzi and Victor Hulbert, saw mixed teams of presenters interviewing each other. Highlights included a Portuguese presenter interviewing an Italian, both speaking their own language. That was followed by a non-Italian speaking Englishman interviewing an Italian in a three-minute segment that actually made sense!

One of those Italians, Roberto Vacca from RVS Florence, reflected that “Hearing the experience of other radio stations, with their different approaches, was refreshing and again, a challenge.”

Andraé Johnson, a sound engineer, discovered a challenge as he found himself on the other side of a microphone for the first time. It gave him a very different perspective on radio. He expressed how great it was to be able to share knowledge across the network.

For Adventist World Radio vice-president, Greg Scott, the event exceeded his expectations. “The level of excitement and enthusiasm to learn of the new possibilities of Radio 2.0 was inspiring. It was wonderful to have participants from all three European divisions and the French speaking islands of the Caribbean. I was thrilled to see the high level of networking among the various groups, languages and radio entities. This alone would have been worth the cost of the training event.”

The consultation, a joint AWR/EUD project, included active participation from the Trans-European Division. This means that across secularised Europe, presenters, technicians and managers have been challenged to think differently, to adapt technologies, to interact with their audiences in new ways, and to focus on Total Radio Involvement in sharing hope.

Daniel Galaio summed it up well. “God enables those who are called. During these days, I feel that God trained His great team, because He is one God with one mission. Thank you Lord, and thank you all.” As he returns to Esperance radio in Martinique, Michel Giberne equally expressed the challenge felt by all the participants. “I am enriched with the certainty that by the grace of God I will be able to put into practice a great part of the knowledge acquired and only for His glory, by participating in the proclamation of the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ.”

Pictures: Mario Calvagno, Stephane Vincent, Daryl Gungadoo (Facebook).

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