Campaign India Team
Feb 03, 2012

"The dirty truth about FM radio is that it reached all, but engaged none": Vineet Hukmani

Hukmani, managing director, Radio One talks about the transformation

Last Sunday, 94.3 Radio One unveiled a new brand identity in the markets of Mumbai and Delhi — the station now serves international content, and has included three new programmes. Vineet Hukmani, managing director, Radio One talks about the new brand transformation.

CI: From Go FM to Radio One and now, this new avatar. Why did Radio One opt for a brand transformation from a Hindi to English content serving station?

Vineet Hukhmani (VH): The plan essentially started when we began talking to clients and listeners a while ago on what they thought of FM radio today. In a survey conducted by us, we got varied responses such as all radio stations sound the same, all radio stations are dumb, don’t listen to radio because every station addresses lowest common denominator; not one talks to me, and how can I target my advertising if there’s no differentiator?

Evidently, we had touched a raw nerve. The dirty truth about FM radio is that it reached all, but engaged none. We set about trying to set this right. The plan therefore, involves launching a radio station with a difference; one that is international, involving, and one that engages.

CI: How has this affected the programing structure?

VH: We have been on a hiring spree over the past few months. In Mumbai, we have on board Manasi Scott who will host our breakfast show; Anita Pawaskar, who is also our programming head, will host On-Demand, our afternoon show; and Erica will host the evening drive. We are also delighted to have Kobard Mobedjina back with us as executive producer.

The Delhi line-up includes Chris in the morning, Alisha in the afternoon and Ashish David on the evening drive. In addition, we will have Teejay hosting our night show — Music Express — which will be aired in all seven of our cities.

CI: There is hardly any competition in English content serving channels. How do you position your station in the market?

VH: There is a huge misconception about English per se in radio circles. Famous speeches like   'Freedom at midnight' or 'Tryst with destiny' by Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru were made in English on radio, and a very long time ago. Every parent wants his child to excel in English, and this quality has made us so competitive in global markets. Indians today thrive globally because of their comfort with English as against the Chinese or many other non-English adopting countries. If an international feel can do well in infotainment in print, TV, internet, cinema, outdoor, then why not in radio.

We prefer calling ourselves an international radio station. Urban India increasingly aspires to have a global identity. The universe of Mumbai and Delhi English newspaper readers is around 4.5 million, and over two million people in these cities consume international programming on TV. Radio today does not engage this audience that has a global outlook.

The radio medium is lagging behind on this front and we aim to correct it.  The listener and advertiser have already embraced it in other media and they will do so in radio too.

CI: How would this affect your listener base?

VH: The only way the listener base gets affected is that we will have a well-profiled audience - the kind of person who reads an English newspaper every day front page to last page.  As I mentioned in the last question as well, it is this faction of people, who have fuelled the growth of Facebook and Twitter in this country in the last three years. These people have allowed news television in English to grow into a formidable force. To many, sports content in English is more desirable than in any other language. This audience loves a two-way dialogue and radio is inherently designed for that large community feeling.

CI: How do you plan to promote this new brand identity?

VH: We have an interesting campaign asking people to ‘upgrade to international radio’. It’s a simple, catchy campaign which uses insights about why people are fed up with FM radio currently, and proposed 94.3 Radio One as the logical answer to their on-air travails. In addition to radio, we are using print, outdoor and online effectively to market this new identity. 

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