From Vivid Bharati’s ‘Aap ki Farmaish to Red FM’s ‘Malishka ke Jasoos’, programming on radio has come a long way. With the industry gearing up for Phase III of FM expansion, exchange4media takes a look at how private FM players have been faring over the years. This report explores Red FM’s growth, its programming strategy and some major milestones along the way.
PricewaterhouseCoopers in its latest report, titled ‘Indian Entertainment & Media Outlook 2010’, has projected a 12.2 per cent CAGR for the radio industry in the 2010-14 period to reach Rs 16 billion in 2014 from the current Rs 9 billion in 2009.
Commenting on the evolution of the programming strategy over the years, Nisha Narayanan, Senior VP - Projects and Programming, Red FM, said, “From the early days of ‘Asli Masti’ to ‘Bajaate Raho’, Brand Red FM has seen a transformation which holds great significance in the way radio is being perceived today. Brand Red has led the medium towards better brand loyalty by leveraging a unique brand philosophy, which reflects the attitude and mindset of its audiences and which continuously delivers on the same promise through its on-air content and jocks like Malishka, Nitin, etc., who imbibe and personify it.”
Narayanan further said, “Through the years, Red FM has been one of the most consistent brands in the industry, be it its music policy of playing only contemporary hits, or its ‘Bajaate Raho’ attitude, which demands an irreverent and different take on everyday situations/ issues affecting the people of the city. Through its innovative promotions on-air and off-air Red FM has been able to strike a chord with the listeners and establish itself as one of the most differentiated brands in the industry today.”
She added, “Over the years, Red FM’s on-air strategy has evolved to reflect the changing consumer mindscape. So, with the introduction of new shows like ‘Red FM Adda’, ‘Superhits Music Show’, ‘Swapnil Joshi Show’, etc., Red FM has constantly reflected the changing trends in the audiences. For instance, ‘Red FM Adda’ follows the format of ‘Facebook’ on radio, while the ‘Swapnil Joshi Show’ is all about recognising Maharashtrian icons of the entertainment industry and showcasing their important work. But while we change, we remain as close as possible to our brand attitude of always doing things differently by giving things our own unique ‘Bajaate Raho’ spin and giving the common people a platform to express themselves.”
“If you look at some our past campaigns, all have been designed with these two main objectives in mind. Be it ‘Red Mike’ or ‘Bajaao for a Cause’ or the more recent ‘Malishka ke Jasoos’, all our campaigns offer our platform to the common man to express himself and raise issues that matter to them. In fact, ‘Malishka ke Jasoos’ campaign follows last year’s campaign called ‘Malishka ko Bataun Kya’. This campaign provided a platform to Mumbaikars, enabling them to share gossip, communicate insider information and report relevant issues, which were ‘Bajaaoed’ wholeheartedly by Red FM. Malishka is extremely popular and very well known for her bindaas attitude and ‘Bajaate Raho’ take on issues, while her show ‘Morning No. 1’ has been the No 1 show in reach over two years and has also won three consecutive IRF Awards for Best Breakfast show. ‘Malishka ke Jasoos’ is our step towards taking listener generated content and interactivity to another level,” Narayanan elaborated.
Given the recent diktat by the Shiv Sena supremo that all FM stations in Maharashtra would have to play Marathi music, when asked whether Red FM would play Marathi music, Narayanan replied, “Yes, why not. But in a larger context, one must understand that commercial FM stations, due to restrictive policies, are forced to play commercially viable content. The policies do not aide them to play a variety of music genres. Allowing multiple channels in the city will ease this problem and the listener will have a higher variety of channels to choose from.”
“As a channel we prefer that our content is driven by listeners rather than external forces. As a radio network, we always had a strong local language connect. In most of our regional markets – be it Oriya music in Orissa, Marathi music in Maharashtra, Bengali music in West Bengal, Kannada in Karnataka, Telugu in Andhra, Khasi music in Shillong – we as a network have always supported the local music industry. In Mumbai, too, we have introduced a new show called ‘The Swapnil Joshi Show’,” she added.
According to her, “For things to be easier for the radio industry to experiment, the policy needs to be more enabling. Either the policy insists on a certain percentage or ratio of local music to be played for all the channels or allowing multiplicity of channels, which will lead to more experimentation. Therefore, local language channels will be a strong possibility.”
More interaction, less RJ speak, say media planners
When asked whether the programming strategy was working out for Red FM or were they mere cosmetic changes, Rakesh Singh, AVP, ZenithOptimedia, replied, “All FM channels have been maintaining the same language. We get the same feel in the ‘Bajate Raho’concept. The feel is more in Mumbai because it seems to be doing better in Mumbai than the other metros. But in other small markets, Red FM has been doing really well. So, I feel that the programming has worked out for Red FM.”
Mona Jain, COO, VivaKi Exchange, opined, “Radio needs to be more engaging and interactive. There should be less irritating RJs. It needs to be more responsive and interactive. Most importantly, play great music and create some more meaningful content.”
Advertisers go along with ‘Bajaate Raho’
According to Shams Kabir, Head - Media Buying and Presentation, Star TV, “Red FM has made good strides in terms of distribution and has developed some distinctive content over the past few years. We at Star need media options that are aggressive on these fronts as we reach out to more consumers than other media. In order for there to be a synergy in our communication objectives and for us to partner any media over a period of time, it necessitates that we look for similar strengths in the media option. Red FM has these strengths.”
He concluded by saying, “Another very critical aspect is the degree to which the media can engage with their consumers. Here again, we have been fortunate to have a partner in Red FM that goes beyond the simple. They have loyal and engaged consumers. This helps us, and the level to which we have been able to integrate content and develop engaging innovations with Red FM is substantial. We hope to continue the association over a period of time.”