Letter from North America, from Nik Goodman

One of Canada’s finest once sang, “And what it all boils down to…is that no one’s really got it figured out just yet”. Alanis was right; which is why ‘figuring it out’ remains so important.

The inaugural Radiodays North America in Toronto aimed to do just that – to bring together radio, audio and podcast professionals to share best practise, learn from each other and work out what the future of audio might look like.

If you’ve ever been to Radiodays Europe or Radiodays Asia, you’ll know Radiodays events are always full of passionate people exchanging ideas and inspiring each other. I leave fired up and positive about the future of my industry. At the same time, we discuss the big challenges and never shy away from any inconvenient truths. It was with that ethos that Radiodays North America was born, bringing the ‘Radiodays approach’ across the Atlantic for the first time. Over the last 12 months I’ve been working on it with Peter Niegel (CEO / General Manager – Radiodays Europe), and along with Ross Davies and Neil Dixon from Canadian Music Week we’ve created a brand new conference.

Here’s my ‘Letter from North America’:

I managed almost 200 words without mentioning AI – but it looms large for all, particularly in Canada and the USA, where some of the larger groups continue to look for alternative ways of delivering content. Daniel Anstandig, the CEO of Futuri certainly set the cat amongst the pigeons when delivering the opening keynote. Some see a threat; some see an opportunity. I see an essential topic to discuss right now. We ignore it at our peril.

Over the 2 days, we saw a line-up of really the very best speakers. They included the legendary Tom Poleman, who is responsible for the programming on all of iHeart Radio’s US stations. Over 860 of them. “AI can’t replace great personalities!” he confidently proclaimed. He believes in on-air talent.

And there was great talent on show. Carolina Bermudez from WKTU in New York gave us all a lesson on how hard work and success are inextricably linked. Tom Power, award winning host of ‘Q with Tom Power’ on CBC reminded us all of the ‘power’ of great conversation, and Shannon Burns from Virgin Radio in Toronto gave us a refreshingly honest Gen Z broadcaster’s perspective.

Younger listeners are never far from the discussion, and Aled Haydn Jones, Head of BBC Radio 1 was there in Toronto to show how Radio 1 works hard at keeping radio relevant for Gen Z. ‘Pass the Pasty’ may be more of a logistical challenge in Canada, mind.

Podcasters were well served with sessions on storytelling, (with Catherine Burns from The Moth and Duncan McCue from the CBC) along with discussions on the state of podcasting, data and tech, with the likes of Tom Webster and James Cridland.

Throw in other key topics such as in-car listening, visualisation, PPM, imaging, local radio, and some ‘conference favourites’ such as Valerie Gellar, Larry Rosin and Dennis Clark, and you’ve got yourself a real ‘beauty’ of an event (as they say in downtown Toronto. Honest.)

What did we glean? Well… US & Canada of course share our passion for making great radio and podcasts, and really do it exceptionally well. And we also share common challenges around the future shape and direction of audio consumption. These are universal.

Radiodays North America will be back in Toronto in 2024, helping to find solutions and inspiring people along the way. But for now, I’ve got one hand in my pocket and the other one is hailin’ a taxi cab…

Nik Goodman is a radio consultant and Head of Programming for Radiodays Europe & North

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