Broadcasting Chief says Maltese radio needs more support and training

Audio Conference, International Radio Festival 2018 - Gordon Watson

Malta’s Broadcasting Authority Chief Executive Dr Joanna Spiteri says that the Audio Conference convened by the International Radio Festival shows the value of broadcasting and the clear need for more support and training for Maltese radio broadcasting. “Today Malta boasts 13 nationwide and 24 community radio stations. This shows the growth of the medium in Malta”, she remarked.

During the 9th edition of the International Radio Festival’s Audio conference, Dr Spiteri said that the conference showed the importance of connecting local producers with broadcasters worldwide but also the limitations facing the country. She recognised that manpower, training and funding were key issues.

‘Training is very important for local producers, they need to have outreach, they need to have opportunities even if its a work placements with foreign stations.  In my opinion that is the way forward. OK academically, its important to have training at school, at university but to have learning on the ground, it’s a different story.  You have the opportunity to meet people, to face difficulties, to see the challenges and how to solve problems. I think we do need to invest there… We need to find the funds to train broadcasters.’

The conference, held at the Mediterranean Conference Centre, formed part of a week-long showcase of talent and professionalism from the local radio broadcasting industry and from across the world.  The Audio Conference aimed to open up a discussion on the future challenges and technological innovations facing the audio and music broadcasting industry.

The conference itself offered a series of presentations with translatable lessons for Radio broadcast companies to grow and stay relevant in the modern era.  While Paul Sylvester of Absolute Radio explained how his music station, Absolute Radio, grew on building audiences through branding, visual content and flexibility, the BBC’s Head of Editorial Standards and commissioning, Paul Smith, announced the official launch of their new Radio App, BBC Sounds.

Broadcasting from an Island: “A chicken and egg situation”

Discussions also focused on the situation associated with broadcasting on islands, a topic Malta knows all too well.  There was much agreement between the speakers, James Keen, Director for Tindle Broadcasting’s Jersey and Guernsey stations and Andrew Zammit, General Manager of Malta’s Bay FM.  Island stations tend to have large listenerships that rely on them for ‘survival information’ like traffic reports. But, in order to stay relevant to their younger audiences, Bay FM has had to improvise to contend with their financial and infrastructure challenges.

Andrew Zammit, General Manager of Bay FM said, ‘Its a chicken and egg situation. In order to make quality content, you need a decent budget and sometimes the budget isn’t there so you have to multi-task. How much do you spend on making that content, how well are you able to monetise? Our staff is full of multi-taskers. Even our sales team and receptionist dabble in the online traffic and scheduling of adverts online. That’s how you save money and keep things on budget basically. Thats one of the biggest challenges operating on a small island.’

“A celebration”

Darryl von Däniken is the IRF’s Festival director and mastermind behind the proceedings.  He said that the festival is designed to celebrate the nature of the radio medium. While the online and digital world continues to dominate modern life, radio still communicates and connects with people more honestly.

‘Radio has fallen more and more behind other media even though it invented the monetization of media. But in our over digitalised, one-dimensional, what i call ‘fake world’, radio is finding its place again as the most authentic medium and the most socialable, because it doesn’t stop you getting on with your life.’

The conference itself offered a series of presentations with translatable lessons for Radio broadcast companies to grow and stay relevant in the modern era.  While Paul Sylvester of Absolute Radio explained how his music station, Absolute Radio, grew on building audiences through branding, visual content and flexibility, the BBC’s Head of Editorial Standards and commissioning, Paul Smith, announced the official launch of their new Radio App, BBC Sounds.

“Clap 3 times to reward artists”

A key theme of the event was the digitisation of the audio broadcasting world.  With the Malta Block Chain Summit taking place just down the road, expert Cliff Fluet explained the uptake of cryptocurrency transactions in the audio and music industry.  According to Fluet more than 75 international startups in the music industry currently use blockchain and cryptocurrency to ensure artists and music producers are paid for their work (JAAK) and retain control of their material (Audius). Another service provided through the Volareo smartspeaker, allows listeners to clap three times to directly reward artists with the Musicoin cryptocurrency.