Report from the RAB NAB Radio Show in Texas

Chris Stevens visits the RAB/NAB Radio Show in Austin and reports back for RadioToday.

It’s always fascinating to view the trials and issues in the radio scene from another country’s perspective, and having lived in the USA for five years, it was great to return to the RAB/NAB Radio Show, which this year was being hosted in the brilliantly quirky city of Austin, Texas.

The mood was upbeat, considering the ongoing challenge of retaining younger listeners, and the debts hanging over some radio groups (in one case, a staggering 19 billion!!), and the sessions ranged from sales techniques to technology, management to HR, with a few sessions that included sales pitches in them… some subtle, some less so!

In these, I learnt that the traditional local radio roadshow is still very much a thing with one company showcasing ways to move these online… certainly better than standing in the rain, trying to hand out window stickers from a car park.

On the tech side, the rise and rise of smart speakers was covered in a number of sessions – 83% of those purchased are Amazon Echos, meaning that having your station “skill” is more important than ever. Of course, the fantastic work of RadioPlayer and the never-absent TuneIn means that most stations are on there, but did you know that you can replace Alexa’s voice with your own presenters? Me neither, but check this video of rock station 933 WMMR demonstrating theirs.

There were some familiar faces around the halls – Chris Nicoll was representing IMGR and Wise Buddah on a session about user interfaces (main message: programme for the receiver, not the transmitter), plus Aiir’s Ricki Lee and the EBU .radio team were also in attendance. Plus it was hard to go too far without a massive Ryan Seacrest towering over you. Oh, and check out my favourite marketing… The Men’s Room… in The Men’s Room.

The Marconi Awards celebrated the best of radio on the final night, and the Bloody Marys looked necessary the following morning – CHR station of the year was KRBE in Houston, one of many stations who were still recovering from Hurricane Harvey’s time in Texas, and as the festival drew to a close, programmers in Florida were getting ready for their turn to keep people in touch with some of the worst storms the US has ever seen.

Congratulations to the NAB/RAB team though, for enthusing us about our medium, and helping to keep it relevant. It’s reassuring to see that they’re facing the same challenges as we are, and hopefully, through the events like this, we’ll continue to stay relevant for many years, and not just during terrible weather events. Incidentally, next year’s conference will be in Florida – take that, Irma!

You can follow Chris Stevens on Twitter, @ChrisUKStevens

Posted on Tuesday, September 19th, 2017 at 7:56 pm by RadioToday

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