Malar Publications, which had been carrying out test runs for its first FM venture, formally launched Hello 106.4 FM with the tag line ‘106.4 FM: Idhu thaan right number’ (This is the right number) in Chennai. The city currently listens to Suriyan, Radio Mirchi, Radio City and recently launched Big FM. MidDay, Muthoot and Noble are some other FM players gearing up to enter the market.
The FM station would strive to be local yet universal in its appeal. While the content would be predominantly in Tamil, the station would also play Hindi, English and other south Indian language music to cater to the non-Tamil speaking audience.
“Fortunately, we are part of an entity with a seven-decade strong heritage and which enjoys numero uno status in the morning and evening daily space. Our music expertise and innovative programming line-up will stir listeners to indulge in their kind of music. We are not here to emulate or copy anybody’s template,” said Rajeev Nambiar, President and CEO, Hello FM.
Nambiar further said, “We embarked on a huge and highly visible promotional activity from September 1, 2006. We have two 60-second TVCs that are currently on air. We are also going to town with posters and outdoor and print advertisements.”
A team of 12-14 RJs is in place, and except for popular RJ Niladri, who will handle the English part of the programming (to be aired for 3-4 hours on weekends), all the other RJs have no prior RJing experience. “The idea was to have fresh voices and break convention. People consume media in a big way in Tamil Nadu and they are always ready to accept new talent. Though all RJs are new, they would sound very seasoned from day one,” Nambiar added.
He further said, “On Sundays, we have a different and never-done-before set of programming. On Sundays, Hello FM would be known as Hello Sunday. Our research has revealed that there is no connect between morning prime time listeners and evening prime time listeners. In order to bridge this gap, same RJs would host the shows both in morning and evening prime hours.”
Meanwhile, S K Ramesh, Head, Content & Marketing (B2C), Hello FM, said, “We did not conduct any voice hunt or addition test. Every single RJ of Hello FM has been handpicked from the streets of Chennai.”
“If you allow me to coin a word, I would term our radio station as a ‘friedlytainment’ radio. The core philosophy is we will not construct the programming content for our listeners. But, perhaps, would allow the listeners to decide what they want,” he added.
With Daily Thanthi reaching out to a crore people each day, the channel should not have an issue communicating the frequency to its audiences. According to IRS figures, a large percentage of FM listeners also read the Thanthi. And in Tamil Nadu, only 10-15 per cent of radio listeners tune in to the radio in their cars, a majority of them preferring to listen to the radio at home. Keeping that and the moods of individual audience segments in mind, Hello FM hopes to define its own ‘prime hours’ instead of sticking to the ‘drive hours’.
After making 106.4 the right number in Chennai, the next stop would be Trichy. Malar Publications hopes to say Hello to Trichy by November or December 2006, and then venture into Madurai and Coimbatore in January 2007. By April 2007, Hello FM hopes to be present in the other three cities it has licenses to operate in – Tuticorin, Tirunelveli and Pondicherry.