300 guests celebrate new radio

Leading radio industry figures, MPs, singers and television presenters were mixing together at The Playroom in London’s Piccadilly last night for the inaugural celebration of new Commercial Radio industry body, the RadioCentre, entitled New 'Year New Radio'.

Amongst the 300 guests were TV presenter Gail Porter, GCap’s Executive Chairman Ralph Bernard, Chairman of the CMS Select Committee the Rt Hon John Whittingdale MP, Chair of the All Party Commercial Radio Group Derek Wyatt MP and Head of BBC Audio and Music Jenny Abramsky.

Welcoming guests from the world of music, the BBC, politics (including MPs from all the major parties), regulation, the press and Commercial Radio stations across the UK, RadioCentre Chief Executive Andrew Harrison set out an exciting vision for radio “at the heart of convergence”. He explained that “if radio’s first age was the family spent huddled round a crackling box in the living room, and its second was characterised by its ubiquity and portability – having sets all around the house and in our cars — it now finds itself on the cusp of its third age, an age in which the characteristics which have served it well for almost a hundred years will be further enhanced by radio’s incredible ability to adapt to busy modern lives, to accompany a multitude of new media experiences, and to satisfy consumers’ demands for more entertainment, more information, more tailored, in more places”.

He continued: “It’s radio’s constant ability to adapt that’s at the heart of its enduring success. Whether it’s black and white TV, colour TV, the video, the CD, the internet or the iPod, the doom-mongers are out there. But radio survives, or rather, it thrives”.

Harrison also recognized the importance of cross-industry co-operation in developing digital radio saying that “I would like to recognise that the success of DAB to date, with close to 4.5m sets now sold, and a forecast of household penetration at 50% by 2010 or so, is largely down to the partnership which we in Commercial Radio have with the BBC”.

Guest of honour, the Rt Hon Tessa Jowell MP, Secretary of State for Culture Media & Sport spoke enthusiastically about the power of local Commercial Radio services which she described as “both enjoyed by and important to their local communities”.

She also echoed Harrison’s theme about radio’s importance in the digital age saying “What gives radio its USP is the uniquely intimate and loyal bond it establishes with its audiences. So rather than being driven out by new technologies, radio finds its place within them”.

She also signaled her support for keeping regulation and legislation of Commercial Radio under review stressing the importance of keeping “the fitness for purpose of the regulatory environment constantly under review. So that commercial radio can retain its pride of place, providing its economic value, its entertainment, and — most importantly of all — its public value, to all corners of the UK.”

Guests were also treated to exhilarating live performances from classical vocal quartet “All Angels”, soul songstress Louise Setara and a stunning set from up and coming star Ross Copperman. The evening was hosted by Heart’s Toby Anstis.

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