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Prem Kumar

COO, | 05 Aug 2013

Content is where users can add value and thus, social media should be integrated. There are a number of ways to do that. Firstly, social media can be used to keep the listeners informed. Thus, social platforms should be used to distribute, market and promote content. Secondly, social media should be used to involve listeners. Thus, to interact through polls and contests can be a good way of integrating social media. Social media can be a perfect extension of RJs and radio station when they are not on air to stay in touch with their listeners.

Prem Kumar, COO, Chennai Live has experience across verticals, including brand management, product management, sales, advertising and e-commerce. Prior to his stint with Chennai Live, Kumar worked with brands such as Sony Live and Murugappa Group. During his time with Sony, Kumar was closely working for the launch of Sony’s Plasma and LCD television sets. With more than 15 years of experience, Kumar has a lot under his belt.

In conversation with exchange4media’s Saloni Surti, Kumar chats about advertising activity across radio, duplication between radio and social media and Phase III expansion plans.

Q. How has the first half of 2013 been for Chennai Live?

It has been pretty good. We witnessed a 30-35 per cent growth. Overall, the market is static. We at Chennai Live drive growth through programming and content. We have good content, which is not differentiated on the basis of songs. The market as of now is not very buoyant as people are not spending like they did before, due to tough economic scenario. The festive season should shake up the situation a little.

Q. How has the advertising activity been? Were there any particular trends that stood out?

Advertising activity across the industry has been pretty static. Due to sluggish economic scenario, marketers are holding their purse strings tight. It has been working out well for us because of our differentiated good content strategy.

Q. Does talk content come across as more appealing to advertisers in terms of creating a connect?

More than talk, it is about good content. Differentiation cannot be created through music. Advertisers are also realising this fact now and thus, look at good content to create loyalty. Marketers are now becoming conscious and thus, betting on talk and branded content. Thus, this kind of content is seeing a lot of traction from clients.

Q. Please share your views on digital and mobile radio?

Digital radio is very small at the moment, with the weak penetration of internet and smartphones in tier II and III areas. However, the situation can be looked at from two ways. Radio is known for music. Thus, from the music proposition, creating mere digital presence will not help. Listeners might not tune into digital radio to listen to music as there are N number of options available. However, from a content perspective, digital radio can be very effective. What kind of content radio players put out there is important. If the content is good, listeners will tune in. Digital radio is here to stay. However, what you offer is very important. Online radio should not be treated like a music business, but as a means to offer unique content.

Q. Radio has been always called as the citizen’s voice. With the arrival of social media, is radio losing out that identity?

There are two ways of looking at it. First, radio will continue to flourish at least for the next two to three decades. According to our population, we should have at least 20,000 stations against which we might have around 300 stations. Also, the literacy rate and internet penetration pan India is not very high. Thus, radio losing its voice due to arrival of social media shall not happen so soon. However, for radio stations like us that cater to evolved listeners, there might be some overlap at a certain level. But there is no direct competition.

Also, when a person shares her opinion on social media, it is restricted to her friends and followers. However, radio is a media and gives mass reach to the citizens. Being a part of an informed debate or discussion on a media platform is completely different and well never lose its charm.

Q. How can radio players integrate social media in their content and marketing?

Content is where users can add value and thus, social media should be integrated. There are a number of ways to do that. Firstly, social media can be used to keep the listeners informed. Thus, social platforms should be used to distribute, market and promote content. Secondly, social media should be used to involve listeners. Thus, to interact through polls and contests can be a good way of integrating social media. Social media can be a perfect extension of RJs and radio station when they are not on air to stay in touch with their listeners.

Q. Please share your expansion plans for Phase III.

We are not from a traditional media background. We belong to a finance background. While for other players it might not make sense to miss out on Phase III, for us there is an option to understand the market and acquire the stations later if required.

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