Day One at The Radio Festival, and with Mark Thompson heading to the stage, and Ralph Bernard in the audience, it’d be fair to assume that the warm fronts in Cambridge would be taking place on stage. In fact, the hottest place was the Channel 4 Radio drinks reception, where radio management from across the UK realised the benefits of air conditioning? which the room seemed not to have.
However, if Channel 4’s commitment to radio investment reflects the amount of Pimms they were pouring, it should be very generous! Good on them for keeping us in drinks non-stop.
Then? the showdown. Mark Thompson on stage, and a group of hungry commercial radio bods sharpening their knives. Though, to be honest, it was all rather calm. Mark didn’t tell ILR to ‘stop whinging? as he has done previously, instead he suggested that working in partnership was the way forward. His main message was to ensure that the listener has a wide choice of great content, available on a number of platforms, from a range of providers. He was positive about Channel 4’s move into the medium, and he was keen to expand the work of the Digital Radio Development Bureau.
Also of interest, his wish to continue and expand the BBC’s range of podcasts, the creation of a fantasy radio station module that compiles all your favourite shows into one station (including non-BBC content, he hinted at), and as if to prove the point, he played a rather funky montage of radio from both BBC and commercial stations, with a range of logos flashing across the screens.
Of course the usual voices from the commercial world had to have their say, most notably Ralph Bernard who didn’t seem to have much of a point, apart from to claim he had been mis-quoted, and to ask for more money for the DRDB. He seemed to be point-scoring, and promised us more revelations over the next two days. Watch this space?
Then, everyone applauded, filed out, and headed to the rather marvellous pubs and resturants of Cambridge. And who can blame them, it had been a stuffy afternoon.
And if you want to check out how important someone is here, ask them where they are staying. The top of the tree are in the Crown Plaza, then the minions are in Kings College or Queens College. It’s like being back at university because, er, it is a university.
Feel sorry for the Queens gang though, as they don’t even get en-suite in their rooms. As the intake includes high level Radio 2 producers and commercial management, it makes for an interesting queue for the showers!