While private FM radio stations have been trying to position their channels through programming differentiation since their launch, the distinctions have not helped channels carve their own identities. The pure talk radio format proved to be unsuccessful for India Today Group on Meow FM (now re-launched as Oye FM), while some radio stations are now testing airwaves with radio serials.
Pointing out that the medium has been growing steadily over the past few years, Viplove Gupte, head - national programming, Big FM, said, “Firstly, my belief is that radio as a medium and category has been witnessing positive growth trends ever since its inception. In our country, to start from a handful of stations in first phase to around 250 in phase two and now about 800+ radio stations to be announced, radio is only growing. The phased growth plan has been quite successful and has also given both the Government and the radio corporations to get a better understanding of the issues and obstacles. ”
“Radio needs its own freedom like any other media,” feels Harrish M Bhatia, chief executive officer, My FM. “Creativity is something which comes in a free environment where one can experiment and innovate with a focused approach to gain more and more results which is not possible with radio as of now. Radio faces a lot of content restrictions which actually stops it from showcasing its true potential,” he added.
Rana Barua, business head, Red FM, does not feel that growth is not stunted due to lack of creativity in programming. Elaborating on it, he said, “On the converse, a lot of growth is coming from innovations and new ideas in creative programming - be it shows, weekend programming or humour sparklers. Everyone looks forward to new ideas and similar is in the case of radio.”
S Keerthivasan, business head, Fever FM reasons that the channel has been able to deliver results in a short span owing to the creative hotbed that they have contrived to create. He explains, “We pride ourselves in creating path-breaking initiatives and industry firsts as far as our programming goes. We create innovative campaigns/ideas which ensure that we are delivering value to our listeners. Proof of the pudding is the fact Q3 this year versus Q3 last year, we have shown a growth of almost 65%, and that is largely owing to the superior creative product.”
Prashant Panday, chief executive officer, Radio Mirchi, opines that more programming formats need to evolve on radio. He said, “There is no denying the fact that the there is need for more programming formats. Currently, almost all radio stations play the same kind of music. This limits the audiences that participate. As per the research data available, radio currently reaches about 60% of urban audiences, and our internal research shows that most of the remaining 40% do not consume radio because of music format issues.”
“I am hoping that the Phase III policy of the government will allow multiple licenses and if this were to happen, it will give rise to more music formats. This will surely encourage the growth of radio listenership,” added Panday.
With most radio players looking forward to the upcoming Phase III auctions, the need to create differentiating content will definitely arise with the increasing competition. Till then, we might have to listen to the same tune across most stations.
Viplove Gupte, head - national programming, Big FM
“As far as creativity in radio programming is concerned, it is purely a subjective decision and people may differ in their opinion about creativity of a product. If the radio listenership data is anything to go by, radio definitely has been able to strike a chord with the listeners and more radio stations have started creating unique and enriching content for its listeners. While some of the old stations have stuck to their programming philosophy refusing to experiment with newer formats for the fear of losing its audience, some of the later entrants like us have always created innovating content across stations to bring unique content to our listeners.”
Prashant Panday, chief executive officer, Radio Mirchi
“There is no denying the fact that the there is need for more programming formats on radio. I am hoping that the Phase III policy of the government will allow multiple licenses and if this were to happen, it will give rise to more music formats. This will surely encourage the growth of radio listenership. More importantly, there is need to have at least 25 radio stations in the bigger market. When this happens, there will be a strong growth in radio listenership. I am confident that the government will open up more spectrum. After all, the government makes a lot of money in auctions!”
Rana Barua, chief executive officer, Red FM
“On the converse, a lot of growth is coming from innovations and new ideas in creative programming - be it shows, weekend programming or humour sparklers. Everyone looks forward to new ideas and similar is in the case of radio. A lot of channels are trying to innovate and it is showing results. Going forward, the challenge is to escalate the same to greater heights and getting richer results.”
Harrish M Bhatia, chief executive officer, My FM
“Radio faces a lot of content restrictions which actually stops it from showcasing its true potential. In future as well, we do not see enough opportunities for creativity as taking content from some other source and broadcasting it would not give any liberty to radio to exploit its creativity as a medium. Talking about the listenership growth, it’s important for a station to keep its content interesting, relevant and engaging to sustain as well as gain listenership. This in turn leads to revenue growth. Having said that, the space in which radio presently operates , the medium utilises it in a much efficient way.”
S Keerthivasan, business head, Fever FM
“We have made creativity a core value, and innovation is the key. We pride ourselves in creating path-breaking initiatives and industry firsts as far as our programming goes. Content is king, and radio being an everyday medium has to ensure that it offers something current and fresh every single day, every single show, and if we do not keep the creative juices flowing, the medium will stagnate. Our focus on ensuring a culture that fosters creativity and innovation has ensured that we draw the best talent in the industry, and we have a bottom-line that is growing year on year!”