Meet our new columnist: James Cridland

Radio futurologist James Cridland

Radio futurologist James Cridland is joining RadioAssistant as a columnist. As he will be published in Norwegian, Swedish and Danish for the first time this introduction is written with these markets in mind. As an added bonus his weekly column will also be made available in its original form. We will let James introduce himself.



Hello. You don’t know me, and I probably don’t know you – but it’s great to meet.

I’m a Brit, and I don’t speak a word of Norwegian, Danish or Swedish, but thankfully someone else does, and is able to either a) translate for me, or b) make up stuff I’ve not said without me knowing.

After 25 years working for radio in the UK – for stations now owned by Bauer Media, and the BBC – I moved to Brisbane, Australia at the end of 2015. It’s much like Oslo, except a little warmer, and the beer is slightly cheaper.

I speak in radio conferences about radio’s future. I’ve spoken at Radiodays in Norway, Sweden and Denmark, at least twice. I was once taken to Christiania by an enthusiastic man from DR; cooked food in a Seoul restaurant with a Norwegian who kept comparing it to hunting an elk (and showing me the pictures on his phone); and had a particularly excellent meal in Stockholm which ended with rather too much akvavit.

I also get to see a lot about what’s going on in radio across the world: I had a rather ridiculous month recently of travelling to Los Angeles in the US, Moscow in Russia, Hilversum in The Netherlands, Biel in Switzerland and Berlin in Germany. I could write a travel column too, if you only cared about each country’s airport and one corporate hotel. (Actually, I did write a bit about Moscow).

Radio in most of these places is doing well: strong businesses, with audience figures that are stable in most cases and increasing in many. Radio in Moscow is most popular with young audiences, not with the old. In the Netherlands, radio’s slick, yet reinventing itself with video and other services. In Switzerland, just as Australia and Norway, the future’s very much DAB+ shaped. In the US, beneath a slight air of depression, some interesting things are happening.

What ties all these places together – with the possible exception of the US – is that broadcasters are keen to understand what’s going on across the rest of the world. They steal the best ideas from everyone else, and keep innovating and trying new things. I’d like to help you steal some ideas from others – particularly in the area of radio’s future.

My background is as a radio creative technologist. I’ve worked as a presenter and copywriter in UK radio, and worked as Digital Director for the original Virgin Radio in London. During my time at Virgin, I launched the world’s first streaming radio app for mobile phones, and helped make Virgin the world’s most listened-to online radio station. I then spent a few years at the BBC, fixing the sound of their stations online. I’m now working for a variety of broadcasters across the world, helping them understand what’s next.

There’s a bunch of interesting, and fascinating, things that radio stations across the world are doing. Some are programming ideas and neat stunts; but others are ideas on how to use technology better, from websites to WhatsApp, from video to Viber, from personalisation to playlisting.

So, I’d like to bring the best of the world to this column every Friday. Hopefully this will be a repository of great ideas that you, or your digital team, might want to steal.

I’m honoured to be asked to do it, and I look forward to taking part in the conversations that I hope it starts. It’ll be great to meet you: and hear your suggestions, too. My email is james@cridland.net.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off for a nice cup of tea. Skol!


James Cridland is a radio futurologist – a writer, speaker and consultant working with the brightest radio brains in the world. He has worked for the BBC and Virgin Radio in London. Join over 2,500 other radio professionals and subscribe to his free weekly newsletter (in English) at https://james.cridland.net

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