Twelve years ago the idea of bringing the radio industry together through a conference hosted exclusively on African soil was born at the Wits Radio Academy.
Thanks to the power of modern technology — and some serious pivoting when the coronavirus pandemic hit — that dream continues to be a reality in the form of Radio Days Africa 2021, which for its second year running will play host to 20 free-to-attend online sessions taking place between the 5th and 16th of July.
Judging by the programme this year, the conference is taking things up a notch yet again. From the always popular Ask the Programme Manager through to a Podcasting 101 masterclass and the return of The Future is Female, the list of sessions has a little bit of something (and more) for everyone.
A radio conference hosted by Africans, for Africans has never been more important than it is during these challenging times. It helps to drive the industry forward, while continuing to spread enthusiasm for the future of radio on the African continent. There are a multitude of different benefits to a conference like this, each of which is touched on briefly here.
It unites the African radio industry
Radio Days Africa creates the perfect opportunity for industry peers from all over Africa to get together and talk about their craft in a non-competitive way. This creates a platform for open discussions around new ideas and ongoing challenges. It also unites key industry players to collectively address some of the bigger challenges faced by the radio industry today.
It creates an opportunity to unpack global trends
The conference also has an incredible way of touching on and unpacking global trends in the radio landscape. This helps to give African broadcasters a benchmark of what is happening across the pond, and often these trends help to polish the strategies of various stations from a management level all the way down to how individual shows are executed.
It reminds us that African radio is world class
It’s easy to assume that Europe, the U.S. and Australia make better radio because they tend to have access to more resources. An African radio conference acts as a reminder that the continent is itself the birthplace of innovation. When we get together as Africans, it’s evident that the way we make radio is just as cutting edge as our counterparts abroad. African radio provides equally exceptional value to listeners and advertisers right across the board.
It showcases the power of African storytelling
In the hustle and bustle of making good radio every day, we’re quick to forget that Africans are the original storytellers. When Africans get together in the same room, ideas flow naturally and the result is incredible content. There is a reason radio has stood the test of time for over 125 years. When storytelling is used to inform, educate and entertain, it goes beyond anybody’s wildest imaginations.
It adds value to developing and developed radio markets
A radio conference in Africa helps bigger markets like South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya get a sense of what is happening on ground level on the continent. Likewise, it gives smaller markets an opportunity to learn from the bigger players in the arena. It creates a learning opportunity on both sides, which helps everyone gain perspective on where their market is relative to their counterparts.
It starts a bigger conversation that transcends language barriers
It’s estimated that there are over 2 000 languages spoken on the African continent. A conference like Radio Days Africa wants to start transcending language barriers, and this year will for the first time feature a session that is exclusively in Swahili. As more languages are added into the mix in the coming years, this type of conference has the potential to outdo traditional European conferences by speaking the language of Africa, for Africans, in an African setting.
The barriers to entry are lower than ever
When Radio Days Africa moved into the online space in 2020, nobody could have imagined how it would lower the barriers to entry for people from all over the continent to participate. Without having to travel to a physical location, the only thing delegates need to take part in the sessions of their choosing is an internet connection and a device that can stream video.
It’s the perfect opportunity for learning and development
What other radio conference gives African people the opportunity to learn at no cost to them? Training and development is typically unaffordable and even more out of reach now because of pandemic budget cuts. Grants often take months or years to be approved. A conference like RDA21 offers access to a wide variety of experts with skills to share. From Masterclasses to open discussions, panel style Q&A sessions and more, it is a great opportunity for anybody to learn about radio topics they are most curious about, and interested in.
It creates a free training avenue long after the conference wraps
A multitude of insights are shared during a conference like this. Because sessions are archived on the Radio Days Africa website, it’s possible for delegates to continue listening and learning long after the conference has finished. 70 to 80 hours of free radio training in the form of sessions from previous years are still available, which radio enthusiasts can consume at their own pace, as they gradually develop and nurture their knowledge about the radio industry.
These insights all showcase exactly why a radio conference on the African continent is more important now than ever. If you’re ready to get in on the action this year no matter where you are based on the continent, the good news is that registration for Radio Days Africa 2021 is already open.
The theme for this year is #AudioAmplified, and it promises to bring insights from some of the biggest names and voices the African radio industry has to offer. Expect two 60 minute sessions every weekday of the conference, each of which won’t cost you a cent to sign up for.
We look forward to turning up the volume with you!
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