Friday 15 February 2019

'Radio heads' take good look at changing face of medium

Jason O'Brien

Jason O'Brien

IN the mid-1990s, James Cridland was the first radio presenter to read out his email address on air.

"It was 100112.2320@compuserve. com," he said yesterday.

"Funny enough, I didn't get that many mails."

Mr Cridland, head of future media and technology with BBC Audio, is in Dublin to speak at the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland's conference, which also marks the 20th anniversary of the Radio and Television Act.

Most of the debate is about how much broadcasting has changed, and how much it is going to change in the near future.

The conference, entitled 'Does the Medium Matter?', is chaired by broadcaster and journalist Claire Byrne. "In the mid-1980s, you were talking about the national broadcaster (RTE), plus a lot of pirate stations," BCI chief executive Michael O'Keeffe explained.

"There had been talk of regulation for a while and the purpose of it was two-fold; one was to get rid of the illegal aspect and to establish a commercial sector.''

There are currently 34 commercial radio channels and 20 community channels on Irish radio, and options for radio users will grow further as Ireland moves into the digital era.

And Mr Cridland had a few tips on how Irish radio listeners can be enticed in to switching over.

"We can make things very complicated, talking about extra bandwidth or whatever, but it's more important to give people the really obvious benefits of switching -- choice and better quality," he said.

And he is confident that radio technology will continue to advance so that the medium remains relevant.

He predicts that available technology will soon include "glanceable pictures, so you can actually see the presenter". He also expects to see digital programme guides.

Also in Business