A 6 ft-by-6 ft card wishing Radio Mirchi on its first anniversary greets visitors at the radio station's office on the busy Anna Salai here. The red-and-green styled wall leading up to the main office is decorated with more such fan mails, an indication of what Chennai station head Mr G. Sharath Chandra calls the most significant aspect of the one-year on air: audience involvement.
"Our product and marketing efforts have helped us to connect with the consumers." And this, in turn, has helped the radio station, promoted by The Times of India group, to attract clients and marketers, Mr Sharath says.
On last count, "the number of advertisers was 640." The radio station has been able to achieve it without compromising on the ad rates, which stand at Rs 1,500 for a 10-second slot. "If the stakeholders understand what the product is, pricing doesn't matter. We have demonstrated the value it represents."
Mr Sharath says Mirchi's relationship with advertisers has gone beyond on-air activities. In the one year of its existence, the radio station has organised a couple of shopping festivals, giving an opportunity for advertisers to take the non-traditional route and then eventually come on air.
Although Mirchi's national presence — it has stations in all metros, in addition to Indore Ahmedabad and Pune — has helped it get national advertisers on board, it has also managed to attract a significant number of regional players, many of them part of Chennai's famed retailing segment, claims Mr Sharath.
The year also saw Mirchi picking up a couple of awards at Spark 2004, instituted by Ad Club Madras. "It's nice to be able to do creative things; it's amazing to be able to do it consistently," he says, adding that the radio channel will continue to be 100 per cent Tamil — the only Mirchi station to be non-Hindi.
Suryan FM, the radio station promoted by the Sun Network, also commenced operations on May 5 last year. In a brief interview over the phone, Sun TV's Vice-President-Programming, Mr W. Hansraj Saxena, claims there has been an overwhelming response to Suryan's programmes. Over the year, the radio station has tweaked some of its content, and some "soft changes" are also in the offing. For the first year anniversary, the channel is planning dial-ins with film industry personalities.
Suryan, which opted for the mass-market route, claims it's the number one channel. After increasing its slot rate per 10 seconds by 50 per cent to Rs 900 some months back, the channel has been able to hold on to it, he adds.
Industry observers and professionals, in earlier interviews with Business Line, had said that the numbers' game will be relatively insignificant in a market like Chennai where the FM medium is relatively young, the rates are low and there aren't many players.