The Listener of the Future: Exploring Public Service Broadcasters’ Strategies About Radio Apps

Marta Perrota | The Bloomsbury Handbook of Radio


The article explores how public service radio stations switch to digital services and what principles they adopt in order to compete with apps like Spotify. These platforms have created dedicated applications, investing heavily in terms of content, metadata tactics, algorithms, and the fruition experience – fluid, agile, and personalised – on smartphones, in cars, and at home via smart speakers. Certainly, most European public service broadcasters, who are currently in the midst of a lengthy and complex digital transformation, have taken on this issue with zeal, but with what idea of the listener in mind? What specific ideas of the public role have been common in encouraging the adoption of effective digital competition solutions? What were the strategies in place to reinvent the content access experience? What sparked their interest? What types of audiences, if any, did they chose to deliberately target? This work aims to investigate the idea of the listener concept, which is at the heart of the vision of the future of radio condensed in a digital tool that allows listeners to play their part. If one of the primary goals of public service is universality, how can this notion be reconciled with the future development of radio apps?

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