Radio 1 boss admits being blindsided by smartphone revolution

Ben Cooper, controller of BBC Radio 1, has conceded that he and the wider industry have failed to cotton onto the impact of the smartphone era and must now reinvent their business model if they are to survive.

In response to the challenge Cooper is calling for radio stations to position themselves as international entertainment brands offering digestible on-demand content to global listeners.

Speaking to The Times Cooper said: “The era of studios, transmitters and radio sets is about to go [into the past] for young audiences. No young person now tunes across a [radio] dial and bumps into Radio 1.

“What we ddn’t appreciate was how much smartphones would dominate young people’s lives. The radio industry is suffering from the fact that it sleepwalked into the smartphone revolution.”

Despite this mea culpa Cooper expressed optimism for the industry’s future, saying “I am extremely optimistic about radio’s future, just not about how it’s been distributed in the past”.

Cooper's intervention follows the departure of Radio 1 talent Zaqne Lowe for Apple, as well as producers James Bursey and Natasha Lynch who have also joined the tech firm's new radio business.

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