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Innovation isn’t the reserve of creatives — it is often dictated by demand. For Jochen Richter, Lawo’s head of sales for radio, it is their current and future customers who demand, and help drive, innovation.
RedTech: Where do you see opportunities to secure the future of radio?
Jochen Richter: I think it’s imperative that radio leverages the content it produces across multiple platforms to be accessible to the largest possible audience. This means continuing to develop diverse distribution paths and platforms that augment traditional over-the-air delivery.
At the same time, we must keep working on flexible new ways to create that content. We might even take the bold step of rebranding ourselves: Instead of “radio,” we could become “accessible audio.” Whatever it’s called, content must be “presented,” which demands that the technology keeps evolving to support whatever presentation mode the consumer utilizes — whether it’s live on-air, via livestream, pre-produced content on-demand, etc.
RedTech: What inspires your company to innovate?
Richter: Our customers! Lawo has always considered our clients and sales partners as collaborators. We find that the most innovative ideas come when the people producing content collaborate with our engineering team, many of whom have long-term media experience, to create products that realize the customer’s vision. Of course, we also closely follow and comply with the latest broadcast industry standards from SMPTE, EBU, AES, IEEE and IETF; we even have a place on many standardization committees. Creativity comes from many sources, so we ensure that our horizons are very broad.
RedTech: How do/es your product/s make radio increasingly resilient, relevant and competitive?
Richter: Lawo is a family-owned business, so we are always mindful of our customers’ needs to get the most out of their purchases. In-house production and development help ensure long-lasting, superior-quality products. Using COTS equipment as an IP platform technology means it won’t become obsolete. We engineer redundancy features and other innovative features that ensure uptime into all our products. Backward-compatibility and our commitment to support also help our worldwide customer base stay competitive and use our technology continuously for long periods of time; in some cases, up to 20 years!
We find that the most innovative ideas come when the people producing content collaborate with our engineering team, many of whom have long-term media experience.
RedTech: What one piece of advice would you give those running radio stations today?
Richter: Stay open-minded. Listen to feedback from your staff and audience; they’re frequently the ones to identify new trends. Hear what they’re saying and adapt the way you present your content and make it available. Staying abreast of new technologies and super-serving your listeners often turn out to be the same thing.
RedTech: How do you imagine radio by the end of this century?
Richter: With higher connectivity and coverage availability everywhere (will it be a “9G” network by then?), it will be effortless to access any content in any quality desired instantly. Radio, or whatever it’s called by then, will be even more easily accessible than today. Also, 80 years from now, I think it’s very likely that everyone will have wearables, and all vehicles and electronic equipment will be linked to the Internet of Things. So, every device, more or less, will become a “radio receiver.” And new listening formats, like immersive audio, will be commonplace.
But as I mentioned earlier, the mix of live elements plus pre-produced content on all different devices (mobile or not) will require presenters and live coverage, because radio will remain the most accessible medium to listen to.
This Q&A was published in the special edition, The Innovators. Read the entire issue here.