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PD Grad School – event report

by RadioToday UK
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UK Radio Consultant Paul Chantler has been attending the annual PD Grad School conference in Los Angeles, California where the interface between Facebook, Twitter and Radio was the focus.

Paul reports exclusively for RadioToday.co.uk..

Social media and the ways it can help radio’s ratings and revenue has been the talk of this year’s annual PD Grad School in Los Angeles.

The theme of the annual event, organised by US radio guru Dan O’Day, emerged as being listener engagement.

Attendance was down, reflecting tightened budgets, and this year, the 18th it’s taken place, may be the last. I hope not – as it’s one of the best-value and most useful conferences I go to every year.

There were fascinating sessions for the 30 or so delegates about the most effective ways to use Facebook and Twitter to the benefit of radio. Here are a few random statistics. Did you know that the average US user of Facebook spends 55 minutes a day looking at it? And Facebook’s fastest-growing demographic is women aged 35 and over?

Dan himself gave a two-hour presentation on the effective use of Twitter, complete with – some would say rather anal – dos and don’ts about tweeting ‘professionally’.

Jeffrey Hayzlitt, the larger-than-life head of marketing for Kodak and a judge on the US television version of Celebrity Apprentice, spoke inspirationally about the way his company has turned around from being a old fashioned film provider to a 21st century imaging company involved in digital cameras, copiers and other products. The secret, apparently, is emotional engagement with the customer.

Jeffrey started in radio many years ago as a DJ. His advice for radio’s future? Build your brand persona. Realise what you’re good at. You don’t just “play songs”, you change moods; you make emotional connections between people. Think this way and you’ll win.

He too is a social media evangelist, having 15,000 followers on Twitter and replying personally to as many complaints and comments about his company’s products as possible.

Research guru Larry Rosin, who runs the US company Edison Research, is a regular speaker at these events. He’s another social media evangelist and although a big fan of radio, believes it has to move with the times.

In the most quotable moment of the two-day event, Larry referred to radio being a survivor, describing it as “the cockroach of media”. His message was to challenge radio people to ‘re-imagine’ what radio can be in the future.

Larry made an interesting point about Facebook and Twitter. He said they’re actually becoming the new entertainment with many people simply waiting for their pages to update with new tweets or status updates!

He showed a fascinating video of how a multi media edition of the magazine Sports Illustrated might look in the future – all video, photos, graphics, audio designed to look like a traditional magazine but opening up the new platforms at the touch of a finger.

Reflecting on Larry’s cockroach comment and looking at the slick and futuristic Sports Illustrated, it occurred to me that radio is less like the old fashioned media of magazines and newspapers which are dying and more like journalism, photography and video; the ingredients and core skills that new media will need if it is to remain engaging.

Perhaps “radio” isn’t quite the right word. Perhaps it’s more a question of audio made using professional radio techniques that will be incorporated into this brave new world.

I can’t help thinking, though, that radio’s core strength is its ability to celebrate and showcase personalities in an environment where you can do other things while listening to it. Surely there’s a place for that in the keyboard-tapping, finger-zapping world of new media.

Cockroach? That’s an annoying little bug that refuses to go away. Radio is more like the birds and the bees – always there and always a delight to hear.

[size=14][b]Paul Chantler is a radio programming specialist and senior partner for United Radio Consultants, [link=http://www.unitedradio.co.uk]United Radio[/link].[/b][/size]

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