With its ‘Suno Sunao, Life Banao’ strategy, Big FM has been adapting well to the markets where it is present. Even as it has incorporated content in local languages, the FM station has not neglected its key Hindi speaking markets. exchange4media takes a look at Big FM’s evolution over the years and its programming strategy.
As per RAM data for four-week average ending with Week 32, Big FM has been leading in Bangalore in all the time slots. Big FM has reported a 23.2 per cent market share in the morning and evening slots.
Think local, talk local
Speaking to exchange4media, Viplove Gupte, Programming Head, 92.7 Big FM, explained, “One of the best things that has happened in recent times is that most of the radio companies have started to believe in content development and planning. Since inception, Big FM has believed in the research backed content planning, which has always helped us identifying the growing needs and changing trends of our listeners across all stations. As the radio markets are maturing gradually and people are starting to recognise radio as an infotainment medium rather than just entertainment medium, the process of content development has become very critical. However, though this process looks extremely simple on the outside, it demands a multi-pronged approach.”
“For us, it starts with understanding the needs of our listeners. With hundreds of languages and their dialects, it is imperative for a radio station to be able to cater to the largest cross section of the audience. Anticipating the need, we have already incorporated content in local languages even in our key Hindi speaking markets, not to mention the stations in South and East, where the entire content is in the local language. We have added Gujarati music, Rajasthani music, Oriya music and the RJ talk is also in the same language. Our ability to gauge the need of the consumer resulted in us starting Marathi content more than a year back on our stations. We were the first station to put Marathi content on air with a dedicated slot for Marathi music and Marathi RJ talk. The huge success of Marathi Music Awards on August 26, which was attended by the who’s who of Marathi film and music industry, is a mere indication of how well we understand our listeners,” Gupte asserted.
Evolution of programming strategy
Commenting on the evolution of the programming strategy over the years, Gupte said, “Constant engagement with the end consumers forms the basis of all the inputs, but we follow a very structured methodology of letting an objective research agency to do meet the consumers, get their feedbacks and opinions and also seek their expectations in terms of the content, be it the RJ talk or the music. A structured research of the consumer and the change in the socio-economic environment makes our programming very dynamic. This enables us to present newer ideas and formats to our listeners. Radio is no longer a medium where the same kind of music or talk continued for years will yield results. The discerning consumer today needs novelty, variety, and all this with speed. To be ahead of the curve, listeners expect radio to play the role of a well informed friend, a jester who will keep their spirits high with its smart wit and intelligent humour. Someone, who not only has depth in knowledge, but also can converse on a variety of subjects.”
“As we are inching towards the third phase, more and more smaller towns will get their own frequency, and then our philosophy of well researched content, understanding of the local milieu, local RJs, local topics will come in handy, and our wide reach will give us access to many entertainment options, which we will showcase for our listeners across the country. From Rajasthani folk to Marathi ghazals to Bhavgeete to Bengali rock music – all will be easily accessible for the listeners. Similarly, from complete coverage of the Amarnath Yatra to the Puri Jagannath Rath Yatra to Barsane ki Holi in Benaras to Bihu in Assam to live show from Lal Baugcha Raja Pandal in Mumbai – the culture of India showcase on radio will find its way to listeners heart,” said Gupte, while speaking on the diversity of content possible.
He added, “Our plan is to go further in the lives of our listeners in each of the cities and capture the essence of his life in radio and entertain him to create a country full of positive people. Follow the philosophy – Suno Sunao, Life Banao.”
Stress on Marathi music
“I attribute the rationale to play Marathi music on our radio station to one and only factor – research. In January 2009, our music research showed the growing trend of likeability for Marathi music. Surprisingly, it came not only from Mumbai or Solapur, our stations in Maharashtra, but also from cities like Indore, Gwalior, Baroda, etc., where the Marathi speaking population is very high,” Gupte further expliained.
He added, “On April 12, 2009, we started a two-hour time band where we played the choicest Marathi music with Marathi RJ talk. From Bhajan to Bhavgeet to Marathi non-films to Marathi film songs, we covered all possible genres of Marathi music. Within three weeks, the amount of appreciation we got not only from the Marathi entertainment industry, but also from our listeners, we knew that we have struck the right chord.”
Gupte further said, “The show concept till date is very simple and that is why our listeners appreciate it – Top 10 Marathi songs of the week. The music that we played in the last one year was the basis of our song selection for the Marathi Music Awards. The number of votes that we got for each of the categories was amazing, and the turnout at the event was overwhelming. As the superhit duo, Marathi music composers Ajay and Atul said that they wished to take Marathi music to international level and we can only second them. Our focus is always on listener first and that’s what keeps us identifying the trends much before other radio stations.”
Media planners speak
When asked whether the programming strategy was working out for Big FM or whether they were mere cosmetic changes, Manoj Malkani, VP, MPG, made a valid point when he said, “Big FM doesn’t have a renowned RJ. Their programming is good and they keep coming up with good shows. However, they need to build on one RJ face of the station. Listeners get hooked on because RJs have become celebrities.”