We spoke to Richard van der Veen about Streekstad Centraal.
How did they originate? What is their motivation? You read it here:
When and how did Streekstad Centraal come into being?
That’s the collective name, Regional City Central. The umbrella over the local channels so to speak. There is hard work being done in our industry to create regional broadcasters, which have a reach beyond one municipality. So more than just Alkmaar or just Dijk and Waard. We present ourselves as Streekkomroep Streekstad Centraal, but locally as Alkmaar Centraal, Dijk en Waard Centraal, Duinstreek Centraal and Heiloo Centraal.
We started that collaboration around 2013/2014. This allows us to work more effectively and efficiently. Now we are one team with one daily central leadership and are called Regional City Central. We are taking off the jacket of just being a “local broadcaster,” we are really going to work on a more professional level. That’s fun to see and do. We were founded in 2010, and I myself stepped in once as a volunteer. Now I am director/end editor and responsible for four paid full-time employees, about eight freelancers and six volunteers.
What is your motivation and what do you want to convey?
We started as Alkmaar Centraal in 2010 because we felt that no serious local broadcaster existed in the city of Alkmaar. A good local broadcaster has an important media function in society and we felt at the time that Alkmaar could not do without it. In 2012, we became the local broadcaster.
Nowadays everyone has a cell phone and you get all the information from around the world on it around the clock. Yet people increasingly need the news from around the corner. That’s what local broadcasters are supposed to provide. Local organizations can put their information on local broadcasters, and readers and listeners are up to date on the latest local developments and news. We naturally measure the reach of our articles and see that really small local news in particular is enormously popular. How nice is it to be able to reach out to the neighbor who asks for help? Or to reach everyone in the region with your organization’s good news?
What is so fun/interesting about working at a radio station?
The best part is that you get up to speed on developments in your own region at lightning speed. Everything you do at a local broadcaster, you do for your neighbor. For people who have the same attachment to the region as you. You speak their language and they speak your language. Not literally, of course, but it is tangible work, close and involved.
What do you think is the power of radio?
Radio is technically accessible to the listener. Anyone can turn on a radio. That approachability should also be there for employees. We broadcast on FM and DAB+ and work with Broadcast Partners to do so. That unburdens us. We can then concentrate on the content.
Because the power of a local broadcaster is not in the music you play, but in the local content. With that, you make a difference, you won’t find it anywhere else. You turn on your radio and do laundry or errands in the meantime. Or you drive to work. Or listens at work. Super simple and you are instantly up to date with the latest local developments in your neighborhood.
What products have you purchased recently and why?
We are currently testing with SmartRadio because we are always interested in new technologies. We like to explore what new opportunities such products offer us, opportunities we didn’t have before. After all, everything is becoming more accessible through new technology, and that is precisely what we as local broadcasters are going for. We already tested with AI two years ago, then it proved to be insufficient for us. So now we look at SmartRadio, what does it mean for us if we move radio to the Cloud? Does it simplify our work? Or just not?
We are heavily automated and basically do not make live radio, we do have a studio and production facilities, but mainly podcasts are recorded there, news is read and produced. Everything is pre-recorded and we broadcast it. We do live only when it really adds value. We have always used software processing until recently. But have now bought two ORBAN audio processors anyway because of our internal growth. We don’t have to do ongoing software management on that. Don’t have to worry about it. And we are satisfied with that.
How do you like the collaboration with Broadcast Partners, can you tell a bit more about that?
I really like the cooperation because we always find a listening ear. If we need an extra step from Broadcast Partners, that step is simply taken. We have fine conversations with Broadcast Partners’ account manager and he always takes the time for us. Especially in the rollout of DAB+, you really played a big role, we were helped tremendously.
What are your further plans for the future and what are your challenges?
Specific to “radio,” the real challenge is that radio must continue to matter. Radio is currently reinventing itself. The younger generation now listens to the radio much less. We do notice that a group is re-emerging that finds radio interesting. Podcasts are kind of radio 2.0 after all. and rising considerably. Call it “the YouTube of radio. So we are increasingly turning to podcasts. Those people listen when they want to. There’s an opportunity there.
Do you have a tip for the future generation?
I especially hope that the next generation will actually make radio. I think we will see a huge increase in podcasts because this medium is less demanding than radio. And again, I mean that “YouTube effect. Currently, I cannot separate radio from podcasts. Podcasts reach diverse audiences in an easy way. The power of podcasts is that you can always find them online. So it is never lost, your broadcast is never over.
My tip for the future generation is: Have a good idea? Step up to a local broadcaster and pitch your idea, but also be open to feedback and engage in conversation. If you have a good idea about a podcast or something else, a local broadcaster can help you out. After all, the local broadcaster already has the reach. We can give a crank to the budding podcaster. A regional broadcaster like Streekstad Centraal already has the necessary experience, so we can help you further.
Interview with Richard van der Veen – Streekstad Centraal – All the news from Alkmaar, Dijk en Waard, Duinstreek and Heiloo (streekstadcentraal.nl)