We always have to be open to new ideas. Jiří Malina presents the new Multimedia category

Jiří Malina
Jiří Malina

This year, for the first time, the Prix Bohemia Radio International Festival of Radio Production has introduced the Multimedia category. Visitors will have the chance to watch and listen to Czech Radio’s domestic productions, private media productions, student projects and projects by leading media houses from across Europe. We spoke about the newly created category with Czech Radio’s New Media Director Jiří Malina.

Why has Czech Radio decided to introduce the multimedia category?

Our decision was based predominantly on Czech Radio’s long-running focus on creating multimedia content.  Multimedia coverage is a topic of interest not only for the public but also for private media. Classic media, which still enjoyed success in the preceding decade with its primary content (in the case of radio this of course means audio broadcasting), are now looking for new ways to deliver their content to listeners and users. This expansion of services is a logical part of our work, and so Czech Radio has decided to introduce the multimedia category. We believe that in the future, multimedia will be a natural tool and an appealing way to distribute content to our listeners, and the internet an effective means of distribution.

Is there a reason why it happened this year?

The reason is not especially complicated. As I have said, multimedia coverage is a logical challenge for media houses, and so it is also logical that multimedia coverage will be represented at the Prix Bohemia Radio festival.

What falls under the multimedia category?

That is a difficult question. In the broadest sense, almost everything falls into the category of multimedia, but in the first year of the competition, we will define multimedia as something that envelopes audio in a visual, interactive form. The projects that will appear in Olomouc should represent an innovative approach in the effort to offer audio content to listeners in a creative and novel way.

What are your expectations for the first year of the competition?

The competition in the first year will definitely not be fierce. Rather, festivalgoers will see striking presentations and examples demonstrating that audio is an attractive content carrier even in the 21st century and that multimedia and the internet complement each other perfectly. A few years ago, audio played second fiddle to trendy, visual content on the internet, but now it – meaning spoken word, from journalism, through audio books to special formats such as docudrama, etc. – is back. That is why our task is to help Prix Bohemia Radio show that audio is interesting, entertaining and sexy. I also expect this category to lead to further popularisation of new media and to show that Czech Radio knows how to innovate and that it wants to discuss innovation with private radios and public media from abroad.

Does Czech Radio also have something specific to offer in terms of “enriched audio”?

Of course. It is clear that Czech Radio will not be able to exist in the future as just an audio broadcaster, but rather also as a content creator. About ten years ago, I was at a conference where there was talk of internet radio and how it will influence public radio. It was clear already at that time that having good content will be of primary importance and that dissemination methods will still be important, but will ultimately come in second.

According to what parameters will the jury choose the winner?

The entries will be assessed from several angles. Innovation will play a major role, as multimedia is primarily about that. An important criterion is also appeal to listeners and users, and whether the project has found its way to them and what impact it has had on them. How the creators of each projects encourage their public to actually listen to the audio is of prime importance. The task of multimedia projects is to come up with innovative ways to make audio available for consumption.

Nová kategorie na festivalu nabídne kromě zvuku i fotky a videa

Can you reveal at least some of the judges?

As I have mentioned, our primary objective is to bring festivalgoers something truly attractive to view and listen to. That is why we chose judges who hold various roles in multimedia. The panel comprises academics, media professionals and multimedia artists. Discussion about the projects will thus not be purely academic or too burdened by the issue of media. This makeup of the panel guarantees that all aspects of the project will be taken into consideration, from creativity, through use in media, to academic impression.

Do you have a dream project that you would like to see at Prix Bohemia Radio this or next year?

My dream project may well appear in the multimedia category of Prix Bohemia Radio in 2020. I would like to see a project that we are preparing at this time - můjRozhlas [My Radio] – to make its way into the finals. We are trying to create a project that will make our audio services accessible to listeners in one place, including new innovative tools and special content for the online environment. It is one of the most distinct projects this year. This year I have no dream project. Actually, all the projects that made it into the multimedia category are my dream projects, as all are very inspiring. And I am very pleased that even my colleagues from private media will be represented in the category. Visitors will thus be able to see how private radios are dealing with multimedia coverage and distribution in the online environment. We are also looking forward to projects from abroad, because I think that for the Czech public it will be extremely interesting to see how leading media houses in Europe are working with multimedia coverage.

How are foreign projects being selected?

The first year of the category has forced use to take a proactive approach. As this category is new, we have decided to address various media “face2face” and explain what the multimedia category is about and why it could be of interest to them. Based on the feedback we received, we then narrowed the range of projects that will appear at Prix Bohemia Radio. In the case of foreign projects, we contacted specific projects that caught our attention directly and that have already achieved success internationally.

Does Czech Radio’s New Media division take inspiration from abroad?

My answer is straightforward – undoubtedly. The word innovation is a matter of course for new media. But it is also important for the innovation to make sense. It is important to drawn from experience and projects that have already been created elsewhere. Online projects can be very demanding both in terms of time and finances, and there is no guarantee of a good result. That is why it makes sense to use foreign and domestic projects as a springboard. We try to get ideas from the domestic scene because they best reflect the specifics of the Czech market. Foreign, such as English-speaking, media have a global impact and can make use of resources tied to the universality of the language. The Czech Republic, with its language, is very specific, and this of course has a great influence on audio content and its distribution.

This year's Prix Bohemia Radio will be exceptional, with competitors presenting in the new category Multimedia at the festival for the very first time. In April 2019, creators will present their audio works with video accompaniment in Olomouc. For this "zero year", the organisers have chosen the theme of Audio at a Glance.

What projects can visitors to Prix Bohemia Radio look forward to?

Czech Radio will offer 1968, which is a project combining multimedia features: a mobile app, augmented reality and virtual reality. At the same time, broadcasts from 1968, which were relayed in audio-visual form for several hours, will be reconstructed. This was a great challenge for all involved. My colleagues managed to create something truly innovative. I am also looking forward to projects from my colleagues at iRozhlas.cz, who provided a look into the backgrounds of important Czech artists. As I personally do not see competition in the online environment as something negative, I am pleased that we will be able to see the Youradio app created by Active.

What will the PBR’s multimedia day look like?  

The morning will focus on presentation of the shortlisted entries. After about 1 p.m., we would like to present student projects on the theme of audio and multimedia to visitors. I hope this part will be especially inspiring for students who are considering pursuing multimedia or are already dedicated to it. In the space where the category will take place, we would like to organise a small exhibition on the topic of audio-visual production.

Do you have any long-term plans for the development of the multimedia category?

I would like a communication between academia and Czech Radio to develop, and parallel to that cooperation with public radio and private radio. This should not be a castle in the air, but a specific focus of our efforts. Impetus from students who look at multimedia with fresh eyes can be extremely inspirational. Czech Radio should then strive to implement new approaches because its task is to develop new services. It should then offer experience and a know-how to private media, because our joint effort is to develop the audio market and find productive tools for distributing content and address old and new listeners alike.