Radio and TV get mixed reception at ECR 2006

April 14, 2006

One of the main talking points at this year's European Congress of Radiology was the introduction of a radio station and a television channel to communicate with delegates. Everyone, it seems, had a strong opinion about the wisdom of the decision by congress organizers to replace the daily newspaper with ECR Radio and TV.

One of the main talking points at this year's European Congress of Radiology was the introduction of a radio station and a television channel to communicate with delegates. Everyone, it seems, had a strong opinion about the wisdom of the decision by congress organizers to replace the daily newspaper with ECR Radio and TV.

All in all, the initiative was fairly successful. The resulting output was of good quality, thanks to the professionalism of producer Martin Hecht and his team. Four editors from DI Europe (Brenda Tilke, Jeanette Marchant, John Bonner, and I) served as scientific consultants and interviewers for the project, so we witnessed firsthand the dedication and creativity of this group. It was also fascinating to see how comfortable some radiologists were in front of the camera or microphone.

There was, however, one recurring question: Was anyone listening or watching? Apparently all 15,000 miniature radio sets were collected from the desk in the registration area, but it is unclear how many attendees were motivated by a desire to pick up a free gift rather than to tune in to ECR Radio.

By the end of the congress, when word spread about the new services, more people were using the sets. For example, immediately after broadcasting a radio item on one exhibitor's attempt to recruit radiologists to North West England, we saw a steady flow of traffic to the company's booth-and most of those visitors wore a radio around their necks. This example illustrates the power and spontaneity of the new media.

Awareness and acceptance of ECR Radio and TV will take time to grow. The concept itself needs fine-tuning. More sophisticated radio sets that allow attendees to listen to programs outside of the Austria Center and hear interviews after the congress would help. In addition, a more detailed printed daily schedule would make it easier for delegates to listen or watch specific programs of interest. Making all of the material available for free on the Web would also be a positive move. Many people said they were too busy to tune in during the meeting but wanted to study the content after the event.

To obtain feedback on the project, the congress organizers should conduct a comprehensive and objective survey. Peter Baierl, executive director of the ECR, and his colleagues deserve praise for their bold experiment. Now they require your input so they can make decisions about how to meet the information needs of attendees.

You can view several video clips from ECR TV, including the daily panel discussions on hot topics, at diagnosticimaging.com. Click on the ECR 2006 logo and scroll down to the "Video from ECR" section. You can also read a wide selection of news articles and columns on this Webcast. Further news from the congress will appear in our May and June/July editions.