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Thursday, December 12, 2019

A New Wavelength

The growth of radio listenership in Indian metros shows how youngsters tune in to FM channels for much more than just music.

Written by Prajakta Hebbar | Published: July 3, 2012 3:40:13 am

Tuhinanshu Chaturvedi begins his day much the usual way as any other office-goer would. After his usual cup of coffee,he switches on his laptop and looks for the latest news. But the similarity almost ends here. After scanning more than a dozen newspapers online,he shifts his attention to the “trending topics” on Twitter,taking copious notes. He then mentally prepares arguments and counter-arguments that will come handy as he would discuss the issue with his “producer”. Chaturvedi,also known as RJ Tuhin,is a radio jockey.

After RJ-ing for five years in Delhi and Mumbai,Chaturvedi has just moved to Dubai on a new assignment. “The business of voice in India is very demanding because it has become much more than just entertainment,” he says,adding,“We have to keep up with current affairs — people depend on us to give them their daily dose of ‘what’s hot and what’s not’.”

As one of the oldest mediums of broadcasting — which started in India in the early ’20s — radio is also considered to be the most powerful. The penetration of FM channels in Delhi and Mumbai has grown to a phenomenal 88 per cent and 70 per cent respectively,as opposed to 59 per cent and 51 per cent respectively in 2007,according to TAM India’s Radio Audience Measurement Survey 2011. Advertisers also find it lucrative to use radio to ensure their products and services reach their target audience. As per TAM’s Radio Advertising data,there has been a nine per cent growth in the volume of radio ads in 2012’s first quarter.

With a growing reach,has radio content changed over the years? “Of course it has,” says Vinayak Satpute,a 49-year advertising consultant based in Pune. “In the early 2000s,when private channels had just started in the metros,people were completely dazzled by the swanky,cool and professional air of the new channels. In the last few years,however,the demographic has completely changed — it has gone from being mostly about housewives and pensioners to the young and bubbly 18-35-year-olds. So,everything has to be hip and happening,” he says.

Industry experts say that the process of finding appropriate radio content is a scientific one. From the kind of music the channel plays to the kind of jockeys it hires — everything is decided after regular and thorough research. Simran Kohli,a Delhi-based RJ with Radio City 91.1 FM,who founded Academy of Radio Management in the Capital,says,“Most radio stations do a periodic test — every three months — called the Auditorium Music Test,wherein a sample number of target listeners are made to listen to a collection of almost 700 (new and old) songs and are asked to rate them. The most popular songs are the ones that are played most often on the channel.”

To those who argue radio has competition from websites that charge “just the cost of a sandwich” to give access to unlimited music and playlists,and also from online global radio channels,Kohli says,“People don’t listen to radio just for music. These days,there’s music everywhere — on your phone,laptop and iPod. It’s the local connect that attracts people. We don’t just provide entertainment,we help make public opinions.” Apart from music,there are now contests,talk shows on issues that young people are interested in,as well as shows where listeners call in to express an opinion or make a request.

So what are the dos and don’ts of a radio channel? “We only have one rule: stay away from sex,politics and religion,” says Karan Singh,a 38-year-old Mumbai-based RJ on Fever 104 FM,adding that occasional checks by the authorities also result in regulating and controlling the information that is shared on air by private radio channels.

Chaturvedi adds,“Two things that sell most in India are cricket and Bollywood. If you get that part right,you can make your shows interesting as well as entertaining.”

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