Big plans for Community Radio to expand to digital platforms: CBAA Conference | radioinfo

Big plans for Community Radio to expand to digital platforms: CBAA Conference

Thursday 29 October, 2020

The community radio sector is going digital big time next year with the planned launch of an app that will carry all community stations and a new interface to allow community stations to be heard on smart speakers and other digital audio devices.

The CBAA’s Andrew Morris foreshadowed the innovation today at a CBAA conference session titled To Infinity and Beyond - Community Radio's Transition to Multiplatform Content Delivery.

Morris told conference delegates that the multiplatform content delivery project, funded by the CBF, is expected to be launched mid next year.

It will allow community broadcasters to put out their content anywhere, any time of day and for listeners to find it more easily. It will allow ads on audio streams and interaction with smart speakers and metadata measurement metrics that will give stations a massive amount of information that they can use.

“We are planning to have a community radio app with every station in the sector on it. It will be a game changer… Webcast metrics will give information about where your listeners are coming from.

“With money from the Community Broadcasting Foundation, the community sector has united to undertake one of the sector’s biggest transformations in decades… moving to a sector wide digital distribution platform,” said Morris.


In the session, Andrew Morris spoke to Richard Palmer from Triton Digital and Richard Phelps from All In Media about the project and they explained the technicalities of apps, smart speakers and streaming.

Palmer, who has access to Triton Digital streaming statistics gave an insight into how listening habits changed when the pandemic began. “In the first few months of the year listening patterns were normal, but after lockdown there was a dramatic shift in consumption,” he said.

“Normal old listening statistics showed the expected morning and afternoon peaks, but during the covid lockdowns, we saw that the morning peak stayed the same through the whole day, then dropped off late afternoon. There was also less of a spike in podcast listening in the evening, because people could listen to their own choice of podcasts any time of day when they were working from home.

“Broadcast radio is not dead, but digital is giving more options to your audience to connect with you. I’m a big fan of smart speakers, especially morning routines… Smart speakers are transforming the way we listen to radio, they are great for aggregating content, making it available on demand, all in one place, with all the other content that people want to listen to,” said Palmer.

Responding to the question, ‘are smart speakers a big deal in Australia?” All In Media’s Richard Phelps answered an emphatic ‘yes.’

“Everything is increasing the listening options. Your station should be available wherever your users are. AM/FM will remain strong, but there are more platforms now, so be part of them all. Growth in smart speakers is strong. Love radio streams and podcasts are two of the most significant functions requested from smart speakers,” he said.

Smart speakers are becoming so entrenched in Australian households that people are buying their second and third sets of smart speakers now.

“A few years ago, consuming a podcast was manual and difficult. It is much easier now to discover and play any podcast or a catch up radio show,” said Phelps.

“The data that comes with streams and podcasts also lets broadcasters measure and understand their audiences better and create more content that listeners want… and that can be monetised."




radioinfo will continue its exclusive coverage of the CBAA Virtual Conference all this week, and will follow it with a showcase of trade exhibitors in our Virtual Trade Show over the next two months.

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Anthony The Koala
29 October 2020 - 11:51pm
When the article said that community radio will expand to digital, I was disappointed that the term 'digital' was limited to IP radio.

I was expecting the article to be about community radio's expansion via DAB+.

By consuming radio whether community, ABC, SBS and commerical via IP radio means an increase in data consumption.

Why pay for additional data consumption via IP when that does not apply to listening to broadcast media via AM/FM and DAB+. Maybe that explains why Telstra's logo appears in this article.

Thank you,
Anthony of exciting Belfield

30 October 2020 - 1:04am
When ever there are conferences which talk about streaming, smart speakers etc, these systems provide incomes for the telcos and search companies. I am yet to see the itemised capital and operational costs to broadcasters to provide the path between the station and the listener's ears. I am talking of the cost to the broadcaster and the individual cost to the listener particularly if mobile broadband is accessed to obtain the signal.

Broadcasters particularly country broadcasters need to be aware that transmitters produce a wide area coverage area without holes in it, where as using mobile broadband the base stations have a typical coverage radius of just 10 km so holes in coverage are common particularly when the listener is in vehicles.

Some community broadcasters have provided invaluable coverage during bushfire emergencies, which will not be heard when the fires cause blackouts not only for mobile phone base stations which can also be burnt down but also to smart speakers when fibre to the node and wireless NBN is deprived of mains electricity.

Lastly Podcasting can be like going to a library and selecting a book or program. How do you know what is popular at the library? You hear about it on the radio which is also the case for podcasts. Isn't live streaming just like broadcast except that in streaming each listener must have their own individual signal to and from the station? Those who can remember the radio cassette, know that live radio can be recorded for later replay. Computer memory is very cheap and needs to be included in digital radios to perform the same function.
30 October 2020 - 4:48pm
The industry continues to push internet listening and continues to ignore DAB+. I really don't get it. Pushing your listeners online is going to backfire big time. Once you start streaming radio you realise there are literally thousands of other stations out there. You're basically asking your audience to go out and find something better. The only radio I stream are overseas stations because they are for the most part better than commercial radio in this country at least. The choice on FM in this country is so limited that DAB+ is the only way to provide the listener with the choice of formats they want, without pushing them onto the internet where they will go elsewhere. The other drawback of course is the data usage, dropouts and fiddly experience changing stations while driving. All issues that DAB+ addresses in some way. It seems both commercial and now community radio in this country are ignoring DAB+ and pushing internet listening platforms - I suspect they will live to regret it.
30 October 2020 - 4:52pm
Thanks for the comments on this report.

Just to clarify, all the speakers in this session did acknowledge DAB+ as an important platform with ongoing commitment to it, but this particular initiative was the new thing that supplements DAB+ and analog broadcasting.

Sorry that this point was not clear in the report.
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