What will Community Broadcasting look like in 2035 #CBAAconf | radioinfo

What will Community Broadcasting look like in 2035 #CBAAconf

Saturday 14 November, 2015

Day two of the conference kicked off with a vibrant discussion around the idea of Community Broadcasting and what it might look like in 20 years time.

CBAA Head of Marketing and Engagement, Tahlia Azaria began the discussion with her predictions of what the future looks like for the community broadcasting sector declaring that in 2035 community broadcasting would be redefined, but it will continue to be different to other forms of media.

She then opened the floor to the panel of community broadcasting experts starting with the CEO of CBAA, Jon Bisset.

Bisset was confident that compelling content will remain the core of community broadcasting. He said:

“I was thinking back over the last 20 years to now and it didn't seem to long ago… what will it be like in 20 years from now there are a few cliches being thrown around flying cars and things… thinking forward i think the world will change but I don't think it will change as much as we necessarily think it will.. society will be very much the same.”

“I think what’s going to be really important in the future is knowing who your listeners are and knowing why they are listening at any given time.”

“I think one thing is core, and that's content. Compelling content is what drives people to listen and I don't think that's going to change at all.”

Community Broadcasting consultant, Kath Letch then took a different approach penning a letter to a robot of the future that has taken charge of a community radio station. She read out instructions such as, “make sure the lights in studio 1 and 2 are switched on at 0700 hours” and, “please make sure the robot in the kitchen has cleaned up”. (If only we had robots already to help us around the station!)

Next FBi Executive Producer, Heidi Pett led a discussion about how we may listen to to radio in the future. She said with internet listening on the rise, branding for individual stations and the sector has already become very important and the answer may be in curation:

“One of the big things that comes out of a lot of this research and the surveys that are being conducted is people are constantly looking for curation.”

“Community radio as a brand and the community broadcasting sector is really diverse and thats something we should keep for the next 20 years.”

“I think it’s a real strength of community radio and something we can continue to work towards in 20 years is curated content.”

Pett also highlighted the importance of finding out what it is that your station does that makes it stand out and what people come to you for. She was not confident about the future of Digital DAB+ either:

“It will be interesting to see what happens to digital radio DAB+. The reports state the internet listening is on the rise and not many people are listening to digital…I wonder if digital radio will end up being the mini disc of the radio industry” 

Swinburne University Associate Professor, Ellie Rennie took a more community TV based approach with her response, having come from a community TV background she urged community media to catch up with an already evolving industry:

“Creating content for multiple platforms is already a reality”

“While much media consumption is determined by algorithms, community radio is still curated by real people with good ideas.”

CBF grants advisory committee member and JOY 94.9 Sponsorship Account Manager, Declan Kelly joined the discussion of distribution and how listening may change in the Community Broadcasting sector over the next 20 years. One thing that will stay the same he says is the opportunity of difficulty within the sector:

“One of the biggest things [coming in the future] is driverless cars, and that's already being started, that's going to affect how we listen to radio.”

Kelly said that the role of Digital DAB+ and the internet will work together in the future:

“I believe in the future of DAB+… but I also believe in the future of the internet.”

“If we want content from America right now we can get it from podcasts and we are not really doing that yet in Australia.”

The floor was then opened to delegates and some interesting discussions followed. Will community broadcasting still be relevant in 2035? Pett said:

“I think it just comes back to this idea of curation and hearing from people you trust. you want to listen to and hear from people you care about.”

Letch continued:

"We are human beings we want to understand the society we live in. The diversity will still be relevant to us as human beings."

Community radio is supposed to service the community and a few delegates were concerned that the future with all the talk of broader distribution may mean a loss of that localism and community spirit that makes community radio special in 2015. Rennie did not share the same concerns:

“I strongly believe that social inclusion is the role of this sector and we do that well.”

Bisset agreed:

“That is the challenge for community radio how are they going to stand out in 20 years time? I think localism and the brand is where it’s strength is.”


The next session was presented by Jean Rau, CBAA board member and from 98.8 North West FM. It focused on ‘Small Stations, Big Ideas’ how smaller stations within the sector can market themselves and raise money. 

Opening the discussion Bob from 3NAW asked delegates what defines a small station: Is it the number of volunteers you have within the station or the population of the town your station is located within? Is it the number of presenters or programs on air or location of the station? It's a difficult question to answer as many stations would use different definitions.

Delegates from small stations across the country stood up and shared stories about marketing strategies and programs that worked from them and helped them stay afloat. 


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