3 cases – 3 countries: there are many ways to success

Radio presents great opportunities and this session showcased three examples from different countries about how to do it well. “It was a great lesson that helped me think about the spirit of the radio again,” claims Michal Merenda from Czech Hitradio. 

Roger Hofmann, Head of Digital development department and online editing, introduced a successful technology made by the second biggest radio station in Germany FFH MEDIENGRUPPE – Radio creator.

This program allows listeners to personalize their playlists and radio channels to be best suited for them. Roger introduced four models that function within the Radio creator. The replacer, which is mostly used for the personalization of simulcast. The playout is a streaming engine based on algorithms and voting systems from the listeners. He also introduced the speech and the recommender. 

Roger dived in more details with the first module – the replacer. “Broadcasting works perfectly, music is more challenging,” Roger pointed out. Why? It is difficult to attract a wide range of listeners from many generations with the same music as every generation likes something different. “That’s why we created 12 plus streams of replacers,” he continued. This way, they can satisfy people and according to statistics, the listening time is longer.

Another success story is illustrated by Andrea Borgnino, an author, radio host and the head of Rai play sound, an Italian public service podcast platform. This platform is relatively new and Borgnino describes a main problem that he had – finding content to launch it.

“True crime podcasts are the most successful,” Borgnino claims, but he had to discover a new story. And he found one with Lorenzo, a bank thief, who managed to turn his life around and become a counselor for former prisoners.

The podcast was produced as an interview and ended up being 10 hours long. Nobody trusted it would work, but it became the best performing podcast on the platform.

Borgnino also claimed that the podcast started a “multimedia circus” as it was remade into a book and there is currently a TV series being produced about it. “True crime wins, and length is not a taboo,” Borgnino sums up his results.

The last story was from Michal Merenda, from Czech Hitradio, who told his journey with Radio Ukrainian. The radio was created in three weeks for Ukrainian refugees even though they did not know the language at all.

“I’m a pretty lazy man, it takes me three weeks to prepare something, but now I had just three weeks to launch a new radio,” he admitted. The 22th of March 2022 Radio Ukraine started.

“We made all the mistakes you can think of,” he continued while describing the process of creating the radio without knowing the language. With people – “But Michal, we can’t play it, she doesn’t speak Ukrainian, she speaks a mix of Ukrainian and Russian” – was one of the examples Michal told the audience. With music – “But Michal, we can’t play it, this is a Russian song” – Michal continued.

But even for making uncountable mistakes, they all learnt lessons from this spontaneous project. We should listen to the people, try to understand them and try to embrace their worldview. “And don’t assume,” Michal highlighted at the end.

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