CMW speakers: "As an industry, we need to embrace digital media... the opportunity is now for radio to reinvent itself"

Monday, March 26, 2012 - 11:40am

Canadian radioCanadian radio's digital future is coming and, though what that future may be remains unclear, it's up to broadcasters to shape it. That was the "big idea" put forward by broadcasters -- most of whom have launched some type of new Internet service -- at last week's Canadian Music Week in Toronto.

Digital music is "a very important space," said Bell Media Radio president Chris Gordon. "We don't know which way it's going to go at any time, but these are valiant efforts that are going to be invested in, until they prove that they're profitable or not." Bell Canada is acquiring Astral Media (RAIN coverage here), which recently launched a new on-demand web music service, offering "niche format channels" and "personalized streaming music" (more here). 

Astral Media VP Rob Farina said the company has hired more than 100 new staff members to tackle such digital endeavors. "As an industry, we need to embrace digital media to strengthen the relationship and value of our brands to the consumer," he said. "I don’t believe it will always be towers delivering our signal, with more audio and streaming options heading to the dashboard. The opportunity is now for radio to reinvent itself."

Daniel Anstandig recently argued Bell's acquisition of Astral would result in "a more integrated media hub than anything the world has ever seen before" (RAIN coverage here). That mimics thoughts shared by CBC Music executive director Chris Boyce, who said, "We think our biggest opportunity is music content across all of our platforms: TV, radio, digital... Our goal with CBC Music is really quite simply to connect Canadians with the music that they love." CBC in February launched a new online music service featuring 40 web-only radio stations (pictured; more coverage here.)

CBC Music's recently launched music service

"We continue to learn about this digital space. Anybody who says they are an expert in this digital space is lying," said Corus Radio VP Dave Farough during CMW's "Social Radio" panel. Farough said Corus recently merged its interactive and radio divisions ("We realized that we’re not radio and interactive – we’re ‘this’ now. It really is all one big pot, if you will."). To illustrate that focus, he said Corus now expects on-air talent to be content creators, too, especially online.

"To those old dogs that refuse to learn the new tricks in our business, I say to them: Get another job. Go find another industry, because this is the way it is," Farough said. "The Internet is here to stay, and let’s embrace it and use all of the tools at our fingertips, instead of fighting against it." has more coverage here.

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