After the spectacular opening ceremony of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, there was nothing much to draw the interest of Indians to the world’s greatest sporting extravaganza, especially given the poor show by the Indian contingent. But it has taken one Abhinav Bindra and his giving India her first individual Gold medal at the Games to bring the interest back. Apart from TV, radio too is basking in the ‘golden’ aftermath.
While radio lacks the visual impact of television’s coverage of the Games, FM players have nonetheless drawn up quite a few on-air and on-ground initiatives around the Olympic games.
Games FM stations play
Harrish Bhatia, COO, My FM, said, “My FM has planned updates for its listeners during the morning drive time show. The attractions of the previous day’s activities would be discussed and important achievements would be highlighted.”
My FM has lined up an array of activities during the Games period. These include initiatives like ‘Jhelompics – Olympics ka suatela bhai’. These activities include on-ground games like ‘Alu Putt’, which involves throwing potatoes from a spoon held in the mouth; ‘Hawa Hawaii’, an endurance test for swimming in the air for the longest time; ‘Bhaag Lay’, where blindfolded people have to walk down a random path created on the ground.
These on-ground activities are being played in offices, youth hangouts and malls, where the contestants can participate and win Jhelompics Medals.
Anuj Singh, National Marketing Head and Station Head, Red FM, said, “Red FM is bringing for its listeners ‘Radio Olympics’. It is a series of on-air games with a funny twist, which promise to be great entertainment for our listeners.”
Naval Toshniwal, CEO, Tomato FM, admitted, “Yes, we are being partial to the Games. But we are here to play what the audience want to hear and not to promote any game. So, we have to be partial towards the listener and not the Games. We have an exclusive association with BBC, who provide us with global entertainment and sports coverage. Olympic Games coverage will be taken care of by BBC as it makes no sense in duplicating the content.”
Sanjeev Kumar Singh, Chief Administrator, Radio Dhoom, said, “We are mentioning local and national talents who are winning in various Games on our station. We are providing information regarding various events going on at the Beijing Olympics. We are playing various contests with listeners regarding the Olympic Games. We would also be inviting sportsperson on various show to promote the mega event.”
Alok Kumar Singh, Station Head, Fever FM Mumbai, said, “We are more concerned about India’s victory at the Olympics and if India does win some medals, we will definitely cover it. Cricket is a religion in India and everyone wants to cover it, but sports that are not popular are not given any coverage.”
Activities from on-air to on-ground
Starting August 8, Big FM has been presenting a ‘Radio Olympiad’, where listeners across its 44 stations can take part and get a chance to win prizes. As part of the offering, several games and contests – both on-air and on-ground (at malls, youth hangouts, offices) – hosted by Big FM give participants a chance to walk away with ‘Gold Medals’.
Nirupam Sonu, Vice President – Programming, Big FM, said, “With this Radio Olympiad we have created a unique event on radio, wherein every Indian can now win and bring alive the spirit of Olympics by just tuning in to Big FM.”
Monica Nayyar Pattnaik, Director, Eastern Media Ltd, said, “We will be doing special interactive shows on the Olympics. Moreover, in our in-house program, called ‘CID 104’, which is an informative hourly capsule, we are giving our listeners information on the Olympic Games.”
She further said, “We at Radio Choklate are very excited about the on going Olympic Games, and today after Abhinav Bindra won the Gold medal in the air rifle round, there was a flutter of excitement at our station and gave us an increased boost to cheer for our country.”
What do FM stations fear?
Naval Toshniwal said, “FM stations fear not the advertiser, but the listener. Unlike in the metros, C Category cities like Kolhapur and Sangli are not exposed to international football as much as they are to cricket. Any content about any other sports will not have a mass appeal.”
Harrish Bhatia added, “It would be unfair to say that FM stations are silent about sports other than cricket. Radio is a reflection of the preferences of its audience, and cricket being a national passion, is obviously paid greater attention, but other sports are covered duly. My FM had celebrated the Euro Cup Football Tournament with its listeners and has also planned to enjoy the Olympics together.”
Bindra’s victory at the Olympic Games is only the beginning and has shown that FM stations do give its fair share of coverage to the non-cricketing sports events. But then it also depends on how well India performs ahead at the Games.
With additional inputs from Deepshika Singh