This paper explores the strategies by which some European public service radio stations relate to listeners and design their listening experience. The recent boom in the audio industry and digital market has seen both public (Berry 2020; Martin 2021) and private radio broadcasters having to respond to a highly articulated competition from commercial platforms for listening to music, podcasts, audiobooks, and other audio services, for free or for a fee. These platforms have developed dedicated applications, investing a lot both in terms of contents, metadata strategies, algorithms and the experience of fruition - flexible, agile and personalized - on smartphones, in the car or at home with the help of smart speakers. Certainly, most of the European public service broadcasters, already engaged in a long and elaborate transition to digital, have taken up this challenge with commitment, but with what idea of the listener in mind? What distinctive principles of the public role played have been prevalent in guiding the adoption of effective solutions to digital competition? What strategies were in place to reimagine the content access experience? What were they inspired by? What types of audiences did they choose to most carefully target, if that? In short, how have public service media responded to the challenge posed by apps like Spotify? The research methodology underpinning this study is qualitative and incorporates a mix of secondary and primary sources, like data from documents and interviews to executives and managers of the digital area of selected public radio services - Sveriges Radio, Danish Radio, Radio Nacional de Espana, ARD and SWR (Südwestrundfunk) and Radio Rai. This work aims to explore the idea of the listener that lies behind the vision of the future of radio condensed in the digital tool that allows listeners to play their role. If public service has universality as one of its main objectives, how it is possible to reconcile this principle with the future developments of radio apps?
Perrotta, M. (2023). The Listener of the Future: Exploring Public Service Broadcasters' Strategies About Radio Apps. In H.C. Kathryn McDonald (a cura di), The Bloomsbury Handbook of Radio (pp. 131-146). Londra : Bloomsbury Academic.