The Malta Independent 18 September 2019, Wednesday

Interview with International Radio Festival Director, Darryl von Daniken

Dayna Clarke Wednesday, 7 November 2018, 08:34 Last update: about 11 months ago
Darryl von Daniken
Darryl von Daniken

Last week saw a fascinating weeklong event in Malta, the first of its kind, The International Radio Festival (IRF). The event kicked off at the historic Fort St Elmo in Valletta, from the 29th-4th November. Now in its 8th year, this international broadcasting event represents the first and only global conference to debate and showcase the business, production and creation of the world's most consumed medium - audio/radio content.

With over 30 stations from all corners of the globe including India, China, America and Australia it's been an amazing week bringing together some of the best content creators in the world. We met with the brains behind this super event, Swiss-born festival director Darryl von Daniken to find out how he pulled off such an incredible world-class event here in Malta and the IRF's plans for the future.

Darryl, tell us where the idea for an International Radio Festival came from?

I have always worked in events and events management, around 10 years ago it dawned on me that there was a real gap in the market for this kind of event. Although I had worked in other forms of media I became completely consumed by radio and radio broadcasting, there's just such a fascinating history behind it. Radio is the world's most widely consumed media and radio does not shout loud enough about its incredible success. Trying to orchestrate a festival to draw in world radio broadcasters and stations seemed like the logical next step.


What is the festival exactly and what does it aim to achieve?

The International Radio Festival (IRF) is all about Music Radio Content. The IRF was founded in 2010 to specifically celebrate radio's on-air influencers and their production teams who command the trust and loyal "ear" of billions of listeners around the globe, and is unique in that the conference format offers invited radio stations the opportunity to showcase their chosen programme formats to attendees whilst simultaneously broadcasting said programmes live-on-air from the conference back to their home audiences, thus reaching millions of global listeners and making the IRF the largest media event of its kind.

Why did you choose Malta to host such a world-renowned event?

Nearly all of the countries we are involved with are more than happy to host us, so it is always a really difficult choice. This year I had been thinking about Malta, and then when I heard Valletta was the European Capital of Culture it seemed like a natural choice. Malta has something many countries do not have when it comes to radio, and that is the desire to move it forward and recognise it as a popular and widely accepted media. The Malta Tourism Authority have made all this possible for us, and for that collaboration, we are really glad. Every piece of feedback I have heard from our participants this week has been overwhelmingly positive when it comes to the country. People just seem to be blown away by Valletta and the warmth of the Maltese.  I mean when you enter those front gates past such a beautiful fountain- how can you not be!


Presumably not every broadcaster speaks in English, is this a barrier for the festival?

No! Absolutely not. In fact, we highly encourage all of the stations involved to broadcast in their native languages- after all their shows are being transmitted in their countries of origin.

What were your highlights of the week?

Every show and every year brings something different. Believe it or not, I haven't had time to fully digest everything that has gone on this week, after the event, I will sit down and pour over every moment; I am really looking forward to that. From the bits I have managed to catch I am always blown away by the Indian stations. This year we were joined by 93.5 Red Fm's RJ Devaki. The way they encapsulate listeners' imaginations and become such fantastic storytellers for me is just magical. Since the start of mankind, we are programmed to share stories and these guys have absolutely nailed that on a station. We have seen so many great things this week, the conference was also superb, Cliff Fluet's highly anticipated speech on Blockchain in radio took things to the next level and planted seeds of inspiration in all of our minds. It's just so fantastic to take highly commercial polished stations as well as fledgling stations that are not even official radio stations yet and put them all in one big pot. The result- well some of the big stations will be featuring some of the smaller ones in their own shows! It's truly a global platform. And to cap it all, the BBC launched BBC SOUNDS, their new music discovery platform!


What does the future hold for IRF?

We are showing no signs of slowing down. In fact each year our team gets bigger and better and our ideas move forward. We are currently looking at ways to involve more than one continent, or perhaps doing the festival every few months in different parts of the world. Basically, we plan to go even more global if that is possible!

The Full list of radio stations that took part in this year's event were Bay Radio, Vibe FM, XFM and Magic FM from the host country Malta alongside international stations; BBC Radio 1 (UK), BBC 1Xtra (UK), Jazz FM (UK), MiSoul UK), Fun Kids Radio (UK), United DJ's with Tony Prince (UK), Hits Radio (UK), Flex FM (UK), Ego FM (DE), Le Mouv (FR), M20 (IT), Teenage Radio Immaginaria (IT), Kasheme - Lounge (CH), LikeFM (RU), Radyo 2 -TRT FM (TU), Ibiza Sonica (ES), Kronenhit Radio (AT), IFM (TU), 102FM Tel Aviv (IL), The Big Time (USA), Pride Radio (USA), Kiss FM (AU), Love Radio (CN), plus Sound of India Contest winner RJ Devanki and Mixcloud online radio award winners Dublin Digital Radio (IE) who won 'Best Online Radio Station' and Pinata FM (FR) who won 'Rising Star' - Listeners Choice award.

Don't worry if you missed the event you can listen again here:





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