Getting your station onto a smart speaker

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This session was about how we can use smart speakers – looking at best practice from broadcasters and innovative projects the rest of us can learn from. In a lively discussion, we heard from Laurent Frisch (Radio France, France), Jonas Bedford-Strohm (Alexa, Germany) and Nicky Birch (Rosina Sound, UK).

The panel discussed some of the issues getting stations onto smart speakers. Jonas Bedford-Strohm has worked on a news on-demand platform, building youth radio content and a podcast skill. He said that although most of the technical challenges were not insumountable, there were more emotional and logistical issues within his organisation. “Good platform design is key, as is project management – and making sure you have the resources for quick responses to consumer feedback”.

One challenge, the group agreed, is getting the word out so that people use your skill. There is no point in having a good voice activation product if no one uses it. It’s a growing medium, and yes speaker sales are increasing, but letting people know about the offering is sometimes tough.

But when it works, it really works! Jonas Bedford-Strohm (DR, Denmark) said that smart speakers can be a “radio with benefits”. Laurent Frische agreed and said that smart speakers offered a great opportunity for broadcasters, to repurpose original content experiences – and interact with the content whether it is live or replayed. Beautiful content on live radio, he said, can essentially be rebranded on this new device.

But even when you have content on the platform, there are still other issues. For example, broadcasters are limited to 90 seconds of audio, in low quality mono. Nicky Birch (Rosina Sound, UK) said that broadcasters needed to make some tough decisions. “You have to make a choice, understand the limitations, and keep doing it whilst still learning.” She said that the device is not always as clever as you want it to be.

All in all, broadcasters are jumping into the smart speaker revolution quickly and with the right attitude. But it’s still early days and there is a long way to go.

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