Music has been a major driver in radio programming, but with the growing need for differentiation in the medium, non-music programming has started to play an important role. Radio stations have also started talk shows to create differentiation in their programming with several stations also airing informative shows giving updates on sports and even weather forecasts. With non-music shows gaining more ground nowadays, exchange4media.com spoke with some of the major players to get their views on the same.
Manav Dhanda, VP-Programming, Big FM, noted that music comprised 80 per cent of programming content on radio, while the rest was spoken content – much of which comprised information dissemination to listeners and ‘specials’ across shows.
“At Big FM, information dissemination is customised to ensure it is topical and meets local interests. We also ensure our utilities are more informative, for example, traffic updates are innovatively designed – hence, we do not merely give out information on road-blocks across the city, but also offer solutions by giving information on alternative routes. In addition, we also ensure that the information is made entertaining, hence, it is infotainment. Moreover, radio has several restrictions as far as broadcast of news and sports are concerned, and this limits the amount of information dissemination through radio,” Dhanda pointed out.
Tapas Sen, CPO, Radio Mirchi, observed that listeners were not yet ready for pure talk radio. “As per utilities are concerned, traffic and other instances impacting people’s everyday life and other utility information are very high premium for our listeners. Nearly 90 per cent of listeners are at home and as a result, are not as active as they are in a car, so it becomes a background medium. Music dominates their mindscape and soundscape. However, we have taken care of all utilities like weather forecasts and traffic reports on the channel,” he added.
Nisha Narayanan, Business Head, S FM, is of the opinion that a local medium like radio could be effective for addressing issues like civic amenities and other issues relevant in smaller cities. “In smaller towns, we are taking up issues and asking people to write in about their problems. We also have tie-ups with municipal corporations and have their representatives come on-air and address the issue. Also, in some disaster prone cities, we have tied up with NGOs and other agencies to put in early warning systems. I personally believe that we have managed to attract a wider listenership base due to this,” she said.
Vishnu Athreya, VP-Programming and Brand, Radio One, believes that in today’s regulated radio industry, players couldn’t do much. “Community driven programmes were undertaken by us as well as other stations during calamities and emergencies as radio was the only medium that could effectively deliver results in such situations. With our BBC Ek Mulaqat, we manage to try and update our listeners on knowing a celebrity more closely on a regular basis. With measurement coming in, radio players will try out new shows as they can understand the audience reactions more easily than even before,” he pointed out.
Vehrnon Ibrahim, National Programming Head, Red FM, firmly establishes that music and entertainment are the core offerings of Red FM and most radio stations. Explaining it further, he said, “At Red FM, we only do what the listener wants. They just want music, which we found after every research. ‘Bajaate Raho’ means when our listeners have an issue, we want to share that issue with others by pushing it on air. For this purpose, we have developed tools such as the ‘Red Mike’, which actually empower the listeners to ‘bajaao’ any issue of their choice on the radio station, taking it beyond interactivity to an actual experience of the brand. In a way our RJ talk is also influenced thus, by what our listeners want to talk about and this is why we are truly the station of expression. We do run other information segments, but these are to enable and empower our listeners rather than merely inform them.”
Rana Barua, National Head-Marketing, Radio City, also agrees that music still remains the focal source of entertainment for their listeners. “However, given radio’s immediacy and direct connect with its audience vis-à-vis other mediums, radio especially has a very strong content component, which is largely city-centric. It is imperative for any FM station to keep this ‘city connect’ going. At Radio City, we believe in providing our listeners information which is meaningfully relevant to them and impacts their lives on a day-to-day basis. This is something our RJs look into and manage remarkably well, that is, showcase city specific developments which are of value and relevance to our listeners,” he added.