Looking to the future
I've just had a really enjoyable few days celebrating Radio 1's 40th birthday. As you can imagine I met up with some old, friendly faces from the past, exchanged stories and had a fond chuckle about the way things were. They even allowed me back on the radio to read a few news bulletins with Chris Moyles, Tony Blackburn and Simon Mayo (which you can listen to here).
But thinking about the past also got me worrying about the future. Will there be a Radio 1 - or a Newsbeat - in 40 years time?
Well, in the chaotic and rapidly changing media landscape, it's impossible to give a clear cut answer to this question… but what I would say is that even in the next few years, things will be very different. Here's a story that might illustrate why.
A teenager was helping his mum clean up their house. He came across what he described as a "big furniture box thing, really heavy with knobs" and asked his mum what it was. "It's a radio" she said. It wasn't even one of those classic 1940s models either - this was a mid -80s design. You see, to many of today's teenagers radio is just history - and they are the future audience after all. It's not that they don't listen, it's just that they prefer mobiles, blue Screen Sky or Freeview or the web to listen on. This audience is wired all the time: and we have to keep up.
Newsbeat - and Radio 1 - must have our content "atomised" - literally blasted out everywhere often in micro chunks - available on every platform available now and those still to be invented in future. Not just audio either - we have got to be visual - moving pictures, stills, webcams, the lot. It means being on platforms from iPods to mobiles, and from social networking and messaging sites to e-mail and text. It means listening to audio on MSN Messenger and the growing use of tags, allowing searching and cross referencing of data.
We also have to be more than ready for the challenges of what they're calling Web 2.0: no longer are broadcasters in the business of "telling" their audiences stuff - we are involved in an endless dialogue, constantly evolving and sharing film and audio content, facts, tips and so forth.
It's changing with dizzying speed - it’s going to be fun - challenging - great for the consumer and will pose bigger questions than ever about the future role of public service broadcasting - Radio 1 and Newsbeat. I don't know what the result will be but I can tell you we're right up for the big game!