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Even though our battle against the Covid-19 coronavirus is far from over, the radio industry is starting to see signs of recovery, at least in some parts of the world.  In other spots,  the situation is less positive.  (For our readers who aren’t quite at the recovery stage yet, we’d encourage you to check out our previous blog post: http://globalmediarcp.com/news/radios-responses-coronavirus-crisis; it contains useful ideas for programming and marketing initiatives during these challenging times.)  

Over these past several months, we have been reaching out to our friends in radio around the world, from Los Angeles to Rio de Janeiro to Athens to Jakarta, to find out where they are in the recovery process, how they are handling re-opening, and the implications that this tragic pandemic will have on our industry going forward. Regardless of what stage of reopening your country may be in, we hope you find their responses useful and informative.      
    

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Miguel Angel Corral: Director of Programming Cadena Dial & Radiolé/ Prisa (Spain) [Director de Programación Cadena Dial & Radiolé / Prisa, España]

 

: Since we last checked in with you, what’s the current state of affairs in the radio market in Spain?  What kinds of signs of recovery, if any, are you seeing?

 

MAC: To be honest, the future in Spain looks quite uncertain, no one really knows what’s going to happen in the coming months, although, it’s worth pointing out that the vast majority of the population has gone digital in their media consumption habits, probably because there wasn’t much of a choice, and this has grown our industry.

 

: How do you think this global pandemic will affect our industry going forward?  What will be the lasting impact of the coronavirus on the way Prisa Radio in Spain operates?

 

MAC: Radio in Spain, particularly music stations, continues to be easy to access, without cost and very user friendly.  And while terrestrial radio has had some decline over the years, our digital menu through our App has grown and offers a wide variety of options to satisfy our listeners, whether it’s through Dial Latino, Dial Esencial, Dial Mini, or Dial Baladas.  I’m also a firm believer that we should provide more digital channels with different styles to fulfill the market’s needs.  For Dial this would mean all types of Spanish music, this in turn would make it more profitable in the near future.

 

: What have been some of your “wins” during these trying times (things that you’ve done particularly well)?  What could you have done better?

 

MAC: Some of our biggest events during the confinement have been our Instagram Live concerts with more than115 artists, where Dial has been the station with the strongest connection with the creators of Spanish music during these months.  At the same time, Dial was the first station in Spain to put together an event with 400 listeners in person in the month of July in Alicante, the show was called Dial Únicos and it showcased 5 artists doing acoustic sets that were streamed live across the country.  Another goal has been the development of our Podcasts; our late night show QUE FALLÓ EN LO VUESTRO, is one of the two most downloaded programs in the Prisa music networks in Spain.  This data tells us that we should think about similar formats that can be easily downloaded, and most importantly, monetize them.

 

: While it may be challenging to predict, what’s the prognosis for our industry in the immediate future in Spain?

 

MAC: One of the biggest challenges of the music industry in Spain is the financial backing of groups and artists, and because of the lack of concerts, there’s been no income available, so one of the new sources to obtain revenue is through social media and established brands, and even though there’s been a slight growth of 4% since the confinement, that’s simply not enough.  Because of it, we’re now exploring new avenues through virtual concerts, but this is challenging, at least for now, because the Spaniard consumer is not accustomed to pay for a show they have to watch in their computer or tablet, so the alliances between radio, TV production houses and record companies is essential to create new forms of entertainment that will engage a wide cross-section of listeners all over the country.

 

: Desde que se ha iniciado el proceso de reapertura en el país, cuál es la situación actual del Mercado en España?  Y que muestras de recuperación, si las hay, son palpables?

 

MAC: El futuro en España es francamente incierto, nadie puede avanzar con exactitud los acontecimientos que pueden sucederse en los próximos meses, pero es importante resaltar en positivo que la mayoría de la población se ha vinculado de forma rotunda al mundo digital por obligación y eso nos ha hecho crecer en el entorno.

 

: Con miras hacia el futuro cuál será el efecto global de esta pandemia en nuestra industria?  Y cuál será el impacto del Corona virus en la forma en que Prisa Radio maneja sus emisoras en España?

 

MAC: La radio musical en España sigue ofreciendo un acceso a la música, ya que es fácil, cómoda, sin coste y rápida.  Y aunque la radio tradicional se ha ido diezmando con los años, la oferta de radio a la carta a través de nuestra APP ofrece una amplia posibilidad de satisfacer las necesidades de nuestros oyentes por medio de Dial Latino, Dial Esencial, Dial Mini, y Dial Baladas.  Pero considero que poco a poco debemos ofrecer más canales de estilos diferentes para ocupar la totalidad del mercado, y en el caso de Dial sería todo tipo de música en español.  Esto ralentizará los problemas de la radio en el futuro.

 

: Cuáles son algunas de las “victorias” durante estos tiempos tan desafiantes (cosas que habéis hecho que hayan funcionado bien)?  Y cuáles son cosas que se pudieron haber hecho mejor?

 

MAC: Una de las actividades que más notoriedad nos ha aportado en el confinamiento han sido los Instagram Live con más de 115 artistas, donde Dial ha sido la emisora que mayor conexión ha tenido con los creadores de música en español durante estos meses.  Así mismo, Dial ha sido la primera emisora de España que realizó un evento con 400 personas de público presencial en el mes de Julio (Alicante), un formato llamado Dial Únicos donde actuaron 5 artistas en acústico y emitimos el show en streaming para todo el país.  Otro de nuestros objetivos ha sido el desarrollo de los Podcasts, nuestro programa nocturno QUE FALLÓ EN LO VUESTRO, es uno de los dos programas más descargados de todas las cadenas musicales de Prisa en España.  Estos datos nos obligan a pensar en otros formatos parecidos estructuralmente para potenciar las descargas y monetizarlas.

 

: Aunque es difícil de predecir, cuál es el pronóstico de la industria en el cercano futuro en España?

 

MAC: El gran problema de la industria musical española es la financiación de los artistas y grupos, la falta de conciertos hace que sus ingresos no existan y busquen nuevas formas de percibir sustento económico a través del entorno digital + marcas publicitarias, y aunque hemos visto un ligero crecimiento de 4% después del confinamiento, esto no es suficiente.  A raíz de esto ahora se exploran nuevos escenarios para que los artistas ingresen dinero por conciertos virtuales, pero el problema es que el Mercado Español no tiene costumbre de pagar una entrada para ver un concierto a través del ordenador, por lo cual las asociaciones entre la radio musical, productoras de televisión y compañías discográficas para crear nuevos formatos es sumamente necesario.


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Aleksandra Marinković: Programme Producer, PLAY Radio (Serbia)

 

: What is the day-to-day situation like in Serbia now, in terms of Covid-19 transmissions and societal restrictions?

 

AM: It is hard to tell if the number of new cases has really come down or if they are being manipulated so that parents would feel safe about the opening of schools. But officially the numbers are down (40 new cases yesterday). Social restrictions are very relaxed. Theatres and cinemas just opened, as have schools (500 people are allowed at cultural gatherings with social distancing, masks, and every other seat empty); masks are obligatory in closed spaces as is social distancing (1,5 m between two people not of the same household or 4m2 per person), masks are obligatory in open spaces too if social distancing cannot be observed; night clubs are closed but cafes and restaurants with outside areas can operate till 1AM; shops, malls, and such have to close at 11PM. Monetary penalties have been set in place for individuals not abiding by the rules.

Now this is all nice on paper but I would say that people are not following the prescribed measures at all.

 

: What is the current state of affairs in the radio market in Belgrade?  What kinds of signs of recovery, if any, are you seeing?

 

AM: After the initial hit in spring when almost all advertising was gone because people perceived radio as a commuting medium, things have picked up again.

 

: How do you think this global pandemic will affect our industry going forward?  What will be the lasting impact of the coronavirus on the way you and your colleagues at PLAY Radio operate?

 

AM: Unless commercial radio finds a way to “get out of the locked car” it will suffer. It was easier for the radio to adapt to working remotely as well as to socially distance than it was for TV. There is nothing to look or feel awkward there so that might be a thing that carries on. But it is really still too early to say.

 

: What have been some of your “wins” during these trying times (things that you’ve done particularly well)?  What could you have done better?
 

AM: Keeping the sense of normality among our listeners and ourselves, I would say. Trying to be inspiring and uplifting, finding silver linings… Perhaps we could have (ab)used the social media more, speaking again to that “getting out of the locked car” goal.


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Lawan D. Chumsai Na Ayudhya (Lina): General Manager, BEC-Tero Radio (Thailand)

 

: What’s the current state of affairs in the radio market in Bangkok?  What kinds of signs of recovery, if any, are you seeing?

 

LD: The radio market in Thailand is going through tough times, like anywhere else in the world, as economies continue to suffer. Advertising budgets for radio have gone down 20% in the period of Jan-Jul 2019 to Jan-Jul 2020. Audience reach has been steady, with increased Cume numbers seen in June, mostly due to the fact amidst this pandemic and all the fake news, people still trust radio to bring them the facts.

 

:  How do you think this global pandemic will affect our industry going forward?  What will be the lasting impact of the coronavirus on the way you and your colleagues at BEC-Tero Radio operate?

 

LD: Diversification is key – we are looking at ways to grow our business and reach with new and innovative projects. Commercial radio stations have responsibility not only to entertain our listeners, but also to enhance our advertisers in their sales performance. We plan to do this with media-fueled creativity, precision marketing, gaming, personalized ads and direct-to-customer communication.

 

:  What have been some of your “wins” during these trying times (things that you’ve done particularly well)?  What could you have done better?

 

LD: In the beginning stages of the pandemic, being able to continue with ‘live’ radio is something we are proud of, and was achieved through good management, communication and dedicated staff.

 

:  While it may be challenging to predict, what’s the prognosis for the immediate future for the radio industry in Thailand?

 

LD: I would say the prognosis is good, IF the economy picks up. As you know, we are a commercial radio group, and our future will depend on this. Radio must be more than just radio…as mentioned, diversification is key.

 


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Dennis Clark: VP Talent Development, iHeartRadio (USA)

: As countries around the world slowly begin the process of reopening, are you seeing some signs in the US that the radio industry is making a recovery?  If so, what have been some of the early indicators of recovery in some of the US’ key markets?

DC: Most of our stations are heritage stations, and they fared very well during all of the recent events.   In many situations, we adapted with our audiences and time-shifted some over the air broadcasts by extending many of our morning shows by an additional hour or two to make sure the audience knew we were present and being companions to our listeners.  At iHeartRadio, we have seen an incredible increase on our app and digital listening because of that move.   We are doing all we can to protect that growth and increase Time Spent Listening.  We see weekly data that our listeners have been adjusting to their new normal and their new routines with radio usage.

: In your estimation, what has our industry, or iHeartRadio for that matter, done well during this crisis and what could it have done better?

DC: The thing that caught us by surprise was the immediate need for talent to originate their shows outside the comfort of the office and studios.   We had a substantial amount of remote kits that were dispatched, repurposed and purchased and sent to talent in many markets that needed them within days.  Our IT and Engineering departments were so reactive and responsive to the immediate and urgent needs for setups and adjusting to internet speeds and other connectivity issues.

: While it may be too early to say, how do you think that this pandemic will impact the role of on-air talent going forward?   

DC: A couple of things, first, our Sales Departments will need assistance from talent more than ever with help in securing future client activity.   Thankfully, our talent understands this and have been supportive with management and sales at maintaining or reestablishing relationships with advertisers as we move through this. Secondly, talent and station awareness and images should really grow when this is over.   If they were there as a trusted and dependable friend with listeners through all of this, their personality and station branding will be noticeable in future research studies.   Radio excels during a crisis.   The response from listeners of gratitude and appreciation to our talent during their shows and through social media has been remarkable and rewarding for station management and talent of all dayparts.

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Juan Pablo Alvarez: Director of Marketing, Prisa Radio (Spain)

: As we slowly begin the process of reopening, are you seeing some signs in Spain that the radio industry is making a recovery?  If so, what were some of the early indicators?

JPA: In all the research studies conducted during the quarantine, radio has been chosen as one of the favorite forms of media to obtain information.  At the beginning of the state of alarm in Spain the consumption of N/T formats via streaming exploded, and it reached historical listening records.  Later on these listening patterns began to level off, but it looks like this last month of May they had huge numbers again. It’s a shame that no one in the market was able to monetize this situation, because of the current circumstances and the state of our economy.

: In your estimation, what has our industry, or Prisa Radio for that matter, done well during this crisis and what could it have done better?

JPA: I believe that radio has offered two great services to our community.  First, the incredible effort to provide news and information, in which our station SER has been outstanding; because in the beginning all health related issues topped the headlines, but at the same time a political climate began to develop, so both of these very important topics required tremendous coverage from our News team, and they had to work under very challenging conditions.  On the other hand, radio has shown its empathy and became a much needed companion during a time of suffering and despair for a society that was initially hit hard by the virus, and then all the economic worries that the pandemic has caused to thousands and thousands of families in Spain.  Therefore radio, whether it’s spoken word or a music station, has been able to lift spirits and be a companion during these hard times.

: While it may be too early to say, how do you think that this pandemic will impact radio going forward in Spain?

JPA: Operators will now be able to change their broadcasting models after this collective trial period has shown that we can do our shows live from anywhere.  Certain contents are now much more integrated than before on the air, on the web, and in social media.  And for listeners less familiar with digital options and streaming, this is an opportunity to discover the ubiquity of radio.


: A medida que el proceso de reapertura se ha iniciado, que señales palpables se pueden detectar que demuestren la recuperación de la radio en España, y si este es el caso, cuáles son algunas de estas señales?

JPA: En todos los estudios realizados durante el confinamiento, la radio ha salido como uno de los medios favoritos para informarse. En el comienzo del estado de alarma en España, el consumo de streaming de formatos hablados se disparó hasta records históricos. Después se fue progresivamente normalizando, pero el mes de Mayo apunta otra vez a dar unos datos extraordinarios. Es una pena que esa bolsa de consumo no haya tenido una correspondencia comercial por las circunstancias tan especiales que está viviendo la economía.

: En vuestra opinión, cuáles son algunas de las cosas que se han hecho bien en la industria, o específicamente en Prisa Radio, y cuáles han sido algunas de las areas en las que se puede mejorar durante esta etapa tan desafiante?

JPA: Yo creo que las radios han hecho dos grandes servicios a la comunidad. Por un lado, el esfuerzo informativo, en el que ha destacado especialmente la SER; la alerta sanitaria copaba los titulares, pero al mismo tiempo se iba desenvolviendo una escena política de mucha actividad que obligaba a un esfuerzo impresionante a unos equipos informativos que han tenido que trabajar en condiciones muy difíciles. Por otro lado, la radio ha sabido sacar su lado más empático para acompañar en el sufrimiento o en la preocupación a una sociedad muy castigada primero por la enfermedad y luego por el acuciante problema económico que el virus ha provocado en miles de familias; la radio, tanto la hablada como la musical, ha sabido dar ánimos y un sentimiento de compañía para salir adelante.

: Aunque todavía es prematuro, que impacto tendrá esta pandemia en el futuro de la radio en España?

JPA: Para los operadores, ahora pueden cambiar modelos de producción después de este ensayo colectivo de hacer programas en remoto. Se han trabajado de forma mucho más integrada que hasta ahora ciertos contenidos transversales en la antena y en la web y en redes sociales. Para los oyentes menos familiarizados con el consumo a través de canales digitales, ha sido una oportunidad para descubrir la ubicuidad de la radio.


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Alexis Karakatsanis: Group Program Manager, Antenna Music Greece (Athens, Rythmos 9.49 & Easy 97.2)  

: As we slowly begin the process of reopening, are you seeing some signs from Athens that the Greek radio industry is making a recovery?  If so, what have been some of the early indicators?

AK: Yes, we have seen the indications that we are in a recovery phase.  First of all, listening is coming back to normal in the last three weeks.  It’s again around 85% daily and 90-something percent weekly in Athens.  As retail stores are open for the last three to four weeks, clients are slightly going back to normal.  During May, I would say that clients didn’t want to spend at all, but the last 15 days of May we have seen some action.  

: In your estimation, what has our industry, or The Antenna Music stations in Attiki, done well during this crisis and what could it have done better?

AK: During April and the first fifteen days of May, what we’ve done at Antenna Music is we changed the lineup to be better suited to the listening patterns.  I’m saying that because we noticed in the listening currency that the listening moved to a different peak hour.  Before the quarantine, the peak hour was between 8 and 9 AM.  During the quarantine, it was 11.  So, we changed the time slot for the morning show of Easy, our international AC station.  We also added a night show on our Greek CHR, Rythmos, because during the quarantine period people were at home and were looking for companionship.  We have in our team a girl who is very good at night shows and we combine it with the fact that people were at home and were looking for companionship and this was a very good move for Rythmos.  

: While it may be too early to say, how do you think that this pandemic will impact radio going forward?   

AK: I do agree that it’s too early to say because we may have a new current, or outbreak, around October so it’s difficult to estimate how the radio landscape will be.  However, I hope that by the end of that period, this pandemic period, there will be no change on radio, at least in the way that we deliver on air.  There will, however, be a lot of changes in the way we operate in radio/audio industry.  I am sure of this.  

: Greece seems to be on track to allow the entry of tourists from around the world on 1 July, and is one of the few countries in Europe that’s poised to make this happen.  Do you think this is a good idea and would you encourage our readers from around the globe to consider traveling, as safely as possible, to Greece this summer?

AK: I do believe that it’s a good idea to open the borders.  However, I think it’s quite risky the way that the government decided to do it--in the respect that I think it’s better to do some tests to the tourists that arrive in Greece or before they arrive in Greece.  Something that confirms what I am saying happened yesterday.  During the last days, we only had one-digit cases in Greece, like 2, 3, or 4.  Yesterday, we had 18 and this is because of a flight that came from, I think, Doha, in which there were 12 people who had the Coronavirus.  So, I would open the borders; it is safe.  But for the citizens of Greece, it would be safer if we have some tests for the tourists who are coming in.  

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Albert Rodriguez: COO, SBS Radio - Spanish Broadcasting System (USA)

: As we slowly begin the process of reopening here in the US, are you seeing some signs at SBS that the radio industry is making a recovery?  And if so, what are some of the early indicators?

AR: Back in mid-March when the pandemic began we saw national ratings decrease by double digits. A lot of it had to with a listening decline in mass transit and cars, and users choosing more news & information about Covid-19.  Through our internal research we found out that our listeners still wanted to tune in into our stations but they were also seeking basic information, so we provided them with all the tips & guidelines from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention) such as social distancing, mask usage, washing hands, etc.  Then as time went on we saw overall TSL levels (Time Spent Listening) come back to normal, especially since May. In particular WSKQ, La Mega 97.9 in New York – which is a heritage station and always top 3 in the ratings across all demos – we saw a tremendous increase; historically we average around a 7 share, and lately we’ve had 17 & 18 shares, and we believe this is because a lot of our listeners are working from home and they have the option to choose their radio station, as opposed to when they are working at their regular workplace.  I’d also like to point out that our streaming numbers have performed quite well too, we normally average a 1 share, and currently those figures are in the 2.5-3.5 range.  This reinforces our belief that Hispanics prefer to consume media, particularly radio and music, in Spanish formats.

: In your estimation, what has our industry, or SBS for that matter, done well during this crisis and what could it have done better?

AR: We have always been known for doing groundbreaking things and for being leaders in ratings in the markets we compete in. We also have more than 300 affiliates in our network, and we’re home for our superstar DJ Alex Sensation, who’s syndicated in 46 markets, but above all, we are excellent at putting together concerts & special events.  During this quarantine our on-air talent teams have become a great companion and a trusted voice for many of our listeners, especially those who live alone, and we’ve launched a special concert series called “Mi Casa Tu Casa” (My Home Your Home), with artists like Pitbull, Maluma, Banda MS, Carlos Vives and many others, so that we can continue to provide this experience to all of our listeners and viewers at home.

: While it may be too early to say, how do you think that this pandemic will impact radio going forward here in the US, and now with the social unrest and turmoil happening in so many of our cities, what are some of the challenges that lie ahead?  

AR: Radio is very strong and vibrant, especially with some of the minorities that have been impacted by Covid-19, therefore, we’re currently doing a show with Mario Andrés Moreno called “La Voz del Negocio” (The Voice of Business).  The sole purpose of this program is to help the Hispanic community get back on their feet: how to obtain government loans, assistance with health topics, including testing, and other important issues.  In terms of the future, everyone still has to adhere to all the different guidelines so we can move forward and re-open our country safely, and as an industry it’s paramount that we reassure our partners, advertisers and listeners that we’re here for them and that radio will remain a true champion in tough times.

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Pedro Ribeiro: Director of Programming/Diretor de Programação, Rádio Comercial (Portugal)

: As we slowly begin the process of reopening, are you seeing some signs that the Portuguese radio industry is making a recovery?  If so, what have been some of the early indicators?

 

PR: We now have about 50% of the commercials we ought to have by this time of the month, and that's a great sign. On the other end, we know that radio consumption has not dropped so heavily, even in the almost three months of confinement that we had here in Portugal. In fact, listening dropped to levels that we had in some periods of 2018 and 2017 when there was no Covid. So, we feel that radio is strong has ever and are hoping for a great summer!

 

: In your estimation, what has our industry, or the stations of MCR, done particularly well during this crisis and what could have been improved?

 

PR: As always...radio has adapted itself.  We sent everybody home and got every DJ working from their houses. Using internet, we gave control of our studio to each and every one of them, built an impromptu studio in their homes, and spread the message that radio was functional and at the same time doing everything to protect our professionals, respecting the health rules of confinement.

 

:  While it may be too early to say, how do you think that this pandemic will impact radio going forward?

 

PR: It will take a while for the market to get back to the levels of investment we had before. But we learned that radio can be done, keeping a good level of comfort for the listeners as well as for the DJs away from the studios. We learned that the internet can take radio to another level of possibilities and that's good.

 

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Kartika Widyastuti: General Manager Operations (January, 2018 – May, 2020), Female Radio/Masima Radio Network (Indonesia)

: As we slowly begin the process of reopening, are you seeing some signs in Indonesia that the radio industry is making a recovery? If so, what have been some of the early indicators?

KW: It is not reopening yet here in Indonesia. Although the plan and preparation has been made, our curve is still going uphill with no indication to have reached its peak. Experts and scientists have so many arguments on the risks of the second wave when the government is really easing the measures. But on the other hand we also understand that the government has to put what we all have in our hands at risk to make the economy roll back. We have just gone through a big mobilization which happened annually during Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr, where people from the big city like Jakarta go back to their hometown for the celebration. And, not to forget, when they were coming back to Jakarta they come WITH their additional friends or family members who also want to try their luck at catching the big fish in the city. So, you can imagine how scary the local virus transmission scene is. Just I write this email, the arrival back to Jakarta is still happening.

So, is radio making a recovery? I would say, not yet. As Pati mentioned in your previous interview (http://www.globalmediarcp.com/news/radios-responses-coronavirus-crisis), the radio is suffering a lot from its advertisers who have been holding back their advertising spending. Even though they have placed some ads, they don’t have the money to pay the invoice because they have to save the money for their own operation expenses first. It is still going to be a long journey, because as an industry, we also need to find our “new normal” in running and forecasting this business. The advertisers won’t spend the same way because the customers won’t consume the same way either. And we as individuals are still struggling really hard with our day-to-day “new normal.”

: In your estimation, what has our industry done well during this crisis and what could it potentially have done better?

KW: I think the good thing about being a developing country, and especially about being Indonesian (the country was colonized for 350 years), is we are very used to survival. :) Since people in the radio industry around the globe started talking about disruptions, many radio stations here also started to build their digital platforms. They are still not 100% utilized, but they’re there. This is what is keeping the business running on daily basis. For example, one radio station created a Zoom class of 50-100 participants, which is normally held in a function room, and did cooking or make up tips by their Air Personalities on Instagram live. The stations have tried hard in convincing the clients about the effectiveness of this new creativity, and this is of course a different story and challenge. Creating is one thing but selling it? This is what I meant before, that the radio stations really need to understand how the “new normal” can really be applied in this industry. What could radio have done better? I think everybody in the radio industry here tried all the possibilities and gave all their best potentials to make this work. After 23 years of working in the radio industry, I think (and I think you’d agree) that radio people have been trained best in creativity, compared to other channels, because we are only using one sense, and broadcasting on a secondary medium to transfer the message!

:  While it may be too early to say, how do you think that this pandemic will impact radio going forward?

KW: In Indonesia, it is not gonna be easy. For your illustration, last year, according to Nielsen, the total Adex was at 168 trillion IDR (almost 12 billion USD) based on the gross rate card. And the Radex only got 1.7 trillion IDR of it, or 1% of the whole cake. Indonesia has around 3,000 radio stations, and 60 FM stations are based in Jakarta. But only 10-15 of them are the biggest players, and they are all using similar formats and serving the same demographic, because this is the market that attracts the advertisers: the young adult who has the most buying power. That’s what we believe for a long time. So, what I am saying here is, unless you have big resources (for examples in terms of capital or being part of a big radio network), you won’t get the cake - the winner will take it all. The government has not made any regulations in controlling the competition or making the industry grow evenly, and this has become a long-time problem. And to add it with the pandemic? The winner not only takes it all but will be the only one who will survive, unless the government starts to do something about the regulations and the rules of the game. But again, I always have a strong belief that radio in Indonesia will find its way, eventually… somehow, with the combinations I have mentioned above: by getting used to survival and having the essential creativity of being a secondary medium to the ears!

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Manuel Delgado Nachtigall: Director, Grupo RPP (Peru)

: Please give us an accurate picture of the current situation in Peru, and what are the possibilities of reopening the country?  Are you seeing some signs that the radio industry is making a recovery or is it still too early?  And if so, what are some of the early indicators?

MDN: Currently Peru is in the second phase of reopening, which includes key sectors like agriculture, mining, manufacturing and trade, this is very important because these sectors combined represent between 55%-80% of our national economy.  This also means that all businesses must adhere to all health regulations and protocols in order to reopen.  As far as radio goes we have noticed higher levels of listening, especially with our News/Talk station, RPP, which has been solely focused in serving the community during the Covid-19 crisis; whereas our portfolio of music stations has shifted its contents towards family topics and at home listening.

: In your estimation, what has our industry, or Grupo RPP for that matter, done well during this crisis and what could it have done better?

MDN: Grupo RPP is currently super-serving the needs of our listeners and clients, and we believe that we’re facilitating an important dialogue between both constituencies, with a clear and constructive vision during this pandemic.  We’ve also launched a series of in-home concerts called “Unidos” and we have already done three of these events with the support of many local artists. These concerts helped us to raise and donate funds during this critical situation, and we’ve promoted them across all digital platforms, in addition to radio and TV.

: While it may be too early to say, how do you think that this pandemic will impact radio going forward in Peru?

MDN: Radio must continue to re-invent itself in order to remain competitive, especially with social media; we have the flexibility to do this and we should take advantage of it.  We should also remain focused on our audience, and we must never take for granted all the people that support us and listen to us on a daily basis, whether it’s to sell their products and services or for entertainment purposes.


: En general cual es la situación actual del Perú y hasta el momento como se ven las posibilidades de la reapertura del país?  Y hay señales palpables que demuestren la recuperación de la radio o todavía no es el momento adecuado, pero si las hay, cuáles son algunas de estas señales?

MDN: Actualmente en Perú estamos iniciando la segunda fase de reapertura, la cual involucra agricultura, minería, manufactura y comercios, estos sectores combinados representan entre 55%-80% de la economía nacional.  Ahora todas las empresas deben presentar su protocolo sanitario para poder reactivarse nuevamente.  En el tema de la radio hemos notado mayores niveles de sintonía, sobretodo con nuestra emisora de Noticias y Programas, RPP, la cual ha estado sumamente enfocada hacia la comunidad durante esta crisis del Covid-19; por su parte nuestras radios musicales han girado sus contenidos hacia el hogar y la familia.

: En su opinión, cuáles son algunas de las cosas que se han hecho bien en la industria, o específicamente en Grupo RPP durante esta crisis, y cuáles son algunas de las areas en las que se puede mejorar?

MDN: Grupo RPP está enfocado en las necesidades de nuestros oyentes y clientes, y sentimos que hemos sido facilitadores de diálogo entre ambos grupos durante esta pandemia, con una visión crítica y constructiva.  También hemos lanzado una serie de conciertos en casa llamado “Unidos” y ya hemos hecho tres de estos eventos con la colaboración de muchos artistas locales, estos conciertos nos han ayudado a recaudar fondos durante esta crisis, y han sido promovidos en todas las plataformas digitales, así como en la radio y la TV.  

: Aunque todavía es prematuro, que impacto tendrá esta pandemia en el futuro de la radio en Perú?

MDN: La radio debe seguir reinventandose para mantenerse competitiva, sobre todo con las redes sociales ya que somos un medio muy flexible para lograr esto, además debemos seguir muy orientados hacia el oyente, y valorar a todos aquellos sectores que nos consumen diariamente, ya sea para vender sus servicios y productos, o quienes nos escuchan para entretenerse.


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Alexey Glazatov: Head of Programming, Hit FM/Хит FM (Moscow, Russian Federation)

: As many countries around the globe slowly begin the process of reopening, are you seeing some signs in Moscow that the radio industry is making a recovery?  Can you give us a snapshot of what Moscow/The Russian Federation is going through and how this is affecting your day-to-day operations?

AG: We are still into self-isolation regime here in Moscow. That means we work at home except our hosts and production. They use special taxi fleet to get to studio and back home. That gives us opportunity to do good job at our shows where we are giving emotional and info support to our listeners.  In other regions the situation is very different. Some already are back to regular life without limitations. But in Moscow and Saint-Petersburg, we are still very limited in day-to-day life.

: In your estimation, what has our industry, or Hit FM/ Хит FM in Russia, done well during this crisis and what could it have done better?

AG: As I already said, we are lucky to have possibilities to talk to people. At times our listeners are very pressed and frightened and the radio stations have that obligation to “open the mikes” and let people talk about what’s important for them. We see that our “music-only” colleagues have very hard times, that sort of radio is mostly useless at that stressful period of time. Of course, we could have done better in terms of real support of local communities, but the network programming is killing the biggest opportunities for that sort of activities at local scenes.

: While it may be too early to say, how do you think that this pandemic will impact radio going forward?   

AG: We suffered the hardest financial situation ever in radio industry. The income from advertising dropped 65-75% in whole national market, and in some local markets people talk about 90% decrease. That defines what we are encountering: total budget reviewing, cutting all the costs dramatically, including staff. That means that a lot of living forces of radio just got pulled out. And the radio companies who can save their professional and creative power in that situation will profit sooner. The others will sell their businesses and it is already everywhere all over Russia. I don’t believe personally in a fast recovery. My forecast is 2-3 years of coming back to average pre-pandemic levels and that’s an optimistic view.

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Manuel Fernandez: Director of Programming and Production, Grupo Acir (Mexico)

: As we slowly begin the process of reopening, are you seeing some signs in Mexico that the radio industry is making a recovery?  If so, what were some of the early indicators?

MF: Unfortunately here in Mexico, recovery isn’t something that we can talk about yet, because the number of cases is still on the rise; some sectors are planning on re-opening because the economy needs it, but we haven’t hit our peak yet.  To get a better sense of what’s happening with radio, our industry is only billing 20% of its usual revenue, and for smaller operators these figures are even lower.

: In your estimation, what has our industry or Grupo ACIR for that matter, done well during this crisis and what could it have done better?

MF: Like any other business during this crisis we’ve had to implement cost-cutting measures, such as budget cuts, salary reductions, etc., to “keep our heads above water,” something that can’t be said about other companies, including some of our competitors.  We have also launched a campaign focused on two key aspects… first, continue to generate content & advertising for our audiences, and second, we have supported small businesses so they can advertise free of charge on our radio stations, fully aware that they may never have the ability to become clients. But our goal is to stimulate the local, regional & national economies, because if a lot of these small businesses fail, it could really have a long-lasting detrimental effect to the country’s development.

: While it may be too early to say, how do you think that this pandemic will impact radio going forward in Mexico?

MF: We have realized that we need to accelerate the growth of our digital efforts, and when we get back to “normal” our digital and analog platforms can no longer be separate, so we will have to find even more synergies between both… because things are changing rapidly, and now pretty much anybody has the ability to generate content, and that represents competition for all of us in our industry.


: A medida que el proceso de reapertura se ha iniciado, que señales palpables se pueden detectar que demuestren la recuperación de la radio en México, y si este es el caso, cuáles son algunas de estas señales?

MF: Lastimosamente aquí en México todavía no hay muestras de recuperación ya que la cantidad de casos sigue aumentando; algunos sectores abrirán porque la economía lo requiere pero no hemos llegado a una meseta de estabilidad.   Para darte un ejemplo, la industria de radio unicamente está facturando alrededor de 20% de sus ingresos usuales, y para los grupos menores estas cifras son aún mas bajas.

: En tu opinión, cuáles son algunas de las cosas que se han hecho bien en la industria, o específicamente en Grupo ACIR, y cuáles son algunas de las  areas en las que se puede mejorar durante esta etapa tan desafiante?

MF: Nosotros como cualquier otra empresa hemos tenido que tomar medidas como recortes de presupuestos, salarios, etc., para poder mantenernos a flote, algo que no está sucediendo con otras empresas e incluso algunos de nuestros competidores.  También hemos lanzado una campaña enfocada en dos aspectos principales… primero, concentrarnos en generar contenidos y publicidad para nuestras audiencias, y segundo, hemos apoyado a empresarios pequeños para que se anuncien en nuestras emisoras, sin ningún cobro y sin metas a que se vuelvan clientes, con el objetivo de estimular las economías locales, regionales y a nivel nacional, ya si estos sectores fallan el país puede sufrir un mayor deterioro.  

: Aunque todavía es prematuro, que impacto tendrá esta pandemia en el futuro de la radio en México?

MF: A raíz de esta situación hemos tenido que acelerar nuestros procesos digitales, y cuando regresemos a la “normalidad” nuestros procesos digitales y análogos ya no podrán ser separados, por lo cual tendremos que encontrar una sinergia entre ambos ya que las cosas han cambiado y ahora cualquier persona tiene la capacidad de generar contenidos, y esto también representa competencia para nuestra industria.


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Jonas Vilandez: Director of Programming, Rádio Globo (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

: Can you give us an overall assessment of the current COVID-19 situation in Brazil?  Which cities/areas are being affected the most and what’s being done to get a handle on this pandemic?

JV: Brazil is the most populated country in Latin America and unfortunately the number of cases, reported and unreported, along with the deaths from Covid-19, are still going up.  To complicate the nature of the pandemic, our president Jair Bolsonaro, is adopting attitudes that contradict the World Health Organization guidelines, such as social distancing, washing hands, etc.  We have also lacked public policies and a non-centralized crisis management approach.  As a result, this has given power to Governors and City Mayors to decide and implement even more severe isolated and non-coordinated policies.  Cities like Manaus in the state of Amazonas, Fortaleza in Ceará, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro are the most impacted by Covid-19, mainly because they are the main flight hubs in Brazil, and that's why our mission as radio stations has been more challenging.
 
: In your opinion, what role has radio played in your country during this crisis, and what kind of adjustments, be it on the air or off the air, have you made to your programming to address this situation?

JV: Here at Grupo Globo, we have radio stations with News/Talk and CHR formats in our portfolio.  Faced with the current political scenario, our commitment has been to inform accurately and clearly at all times, ignoring fake news and therefore guiding our listeners to healthy practices and personal hygiene.  On a broader role our goal is to bring awareness so that our citizens can demand change and the right measures from public authorities and flatten the curve.

We also have health experts who are on the air on all of our News/Talk properties, and in our music stations we have relied on artists, social media influencers and TV stars to support, promote and convey our “stay healthy” message.  At the same time we’ve faced technical challenges to ensure the safety of all of our employees, since the majority of our on-air talent is now broadcasting from home.
 
: While it may be too early to say, how do you think that this pandemic will impact the radio industry in Brazil going forward, what are some of the challenges you will face in the future, and do you see any hopeful signs that radio will improve and continue to grow over there?

JV:  The pandemic has accelerated our initiatives beyond terrestrial radio. All of our music, content and interviews are now carried on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube, along with a large variety of podcasts that are being produced on a daily basis.  Currently, Grupo Globo has more than 40 podcasts among the top 100 most listened to podcasts in Latin America, according to Triton Digital.  The podcast "O Assunto" is number one in Latin America, and it’s 100% in Portuguese.  We’ve also partnered with other media such as open TV, Pay-per-View and digital/online platforms, and as a result we are able to monetize and broadcast shows like DJ Alok's live stream with an audience of over 27 million people.

Radio’s TSL (Time Spent Listening) in Brazil has increased during the pandemic: Globo’s News/Talk stations are up 30 minutes and our music stations are up by 15 minutes.  On the other hand, revenues have decreased by more than 40%, so our challenge is to change the current perception that the advertising community has about our business. The key point here is to promote the strengths of radio and the role it plays, especially during these hard times.

All digital initiatives must also be tested, measured and followed up, so that once the pandemic is over, we will have better knowledge and clarity to change our routines. This also applies to all live broadcasts, therefore the need to conduct research (traditional or new), whether it’s for music or content, will be paramount in the future.

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Jim Receveur: CEO, Bauer Media (Denmark & Norway) 

: As we slowly begin the process of reopening, are you seeing some signs in Denmark that the radio industry is making a recovery?  If so, what have been some of the early indicators?

JR: Denmark and Norway are some of the countries that are almost 100% back.  We are missing the travel industry and large events, concerts or shows with over 50 people.  Our borders are also only open to our neighbors Germany, Norway and Iceland (Sweden is not as they have had a different corona strategy that Denmark does not agree with).  The recovery though has come back remarkably fast.  We had a very large drop in April and May but already June is looking much better.  The biggest indications that the market is returning is the high-priced products like real estate, car dealers and finance sector have started to advertise again.

: In your estimation, what has our industry, or Bauer Media in Denmark, done well during this crisis and what could it have done better?

JR: I think that the industry has been good at standing together to promote Branding importance and traditional reach.  These are factors that I believe that a lot of marketing managers have forgotten and are missing with their digital strategy.  Bauer has been exceptional at working together; we have had weekly sales calls sharing our sales success stories and set up home studios in I believe world class time.  

: While it may be too early to say, how do you think that this pandemic will impact radio going forward?   

JR: I think the pandemic will give us the chance to reboot the whole radio market.  We have done so many amazing things that we did not believe possible before the crisis.  We see a real opportunity of an old world of advertisers that have retail shops and physical products and a new world that is all digital and will send the products to your home in record time competing.  The key to both of them is advertising and this gives us a unique possibility to show that we are both in the traditional (physical world) but we are also in the digital audio business.  Not too many medias can sit in such a privileged situation.

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Thank you very much to all of our participants for their insights, and if you have any stories from your market that you'd like to share, we'd love to hear from you at info@GlobalMediaRCP.com! Stay safe and healthy!