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Partho Majumdar

Station & Programming Director | 12 Nov 2003

Our major product differentiation is that the flavor of the station remains constant; we maintain a consistency in music mood and tone with our set target group. This is an important factor for establishing and retaining a loyal listenership base as well as attracting new listeners

Traversing varied industries through companies like Asian Paint, Marico Industries and Sony Music, Partho Majumdar joined Power 107.8 FM as Station and Programming Director in 2002. In this session of Radio Speak, Partho talks to Jasmeen Dugal about format radio, how Power 107.8 FM differs from block programming and the profile of Kolkata radio listeners.

Q. How are you competing with the other FM players, given the similarity of programming played out on most? How does Power differentiate in programming?

The basic difference in Power FM programming is that we are a format radio station. Our major product differentiation is that the flavor of the station remains constant; we maintain a consistency in music mood and tone with our set target group (under 30 years). This is an important factor for establishing and retaining a loyal listenership base as well as attracting new listeners. In contrast, other FM players continue with block programming and no consistency in music (i.e. their focus is on playing songs from different eras), their programming addresses different age groups during different day parts and hence it leads to program loyalty instead of station loyalty.

Q. How would you describe the Kolkata audience? Are they any different compared to the other metros? How has the Kolkata market/audience and clients received Radio FM, keeping in mind that they are quite conservative by nature?

Kolkata has always prided itself on being the cultural nerve center of India. My experience with Kolkata listeners is that they have an extremely good ear for music and it’s an evolved music market. The advent of FM radio stations has revolutionized music listening. Music has become affordable and this can only mean a positive sign for musical talents and appreciation.

Q. Could you comment on the competition you are facing in Kolkata?

We are the only “Hinglish” radio station in Kolkata with a set target group. To be very honest, in terms programming we are unique. But let me assure you that we are extremely favorably placed in our target group. Other FMs – into block programming – try to satisfy everybody and have no fixed target audience. What kind of programming was being spun around Durga Puja and Diwali? What was the response? And how was it different from the clutter of festive promotions on the other channels? We had a pre-Puja on-air contest called “Power cash call” (listen & win) for three weeks, complemented with a number of on-ground activities in different pandals with our RJs’ continual live interaction with listeners. Our aim is to maintain a consistent level of promotions in the station, primarily aimed at radio listeners and music lovers.

Q. Why has Power not been as aggressive in promoting itself as the others have been?

We disagree with you on that count; our promotions have been focused on our TGA. We were the first movers and started our ground-level campaign way before we were on air. During Jan-Feb ’03 we initiated our first ground-level campaign called “Star Power” – an RJ hunt across colleges, university campuses and hangout joints. We have also done some high decibel promotions like “Beat The Bomb,” which was our launch promotion, with a prize money of Rs. 5, 00, 000 in cash which complimented by sufficient visual publicity, received favorable attention from the press. We also had a car-sticker promotion, which has increased the visual awareness of the station. The advantages of these promotions are manifold. The active listener will actually be waiting for something like this where he can win different prizes every week. Moreover, apart from cash, the other prizes that we have given out have also been the kind that attracts our target group. I would once again like to insist that we have been extremely focused on our planned target audience. We decided to be rational and instead of channelising resources to attract people in general, we decided to use the media in a way that would have a direct impact on our TG, simultaneously minimizing wastage.

Q. Who are the categories of advertisers that target prime time in Kolkata? Has been an increase in the number of financial brands?

The major categories of advertisers on Power are petroleum, perfumes, electronics, computers, jewelers, education, supermarkets, music labels, beverages, motorbikes and ayurvedic products. Now that radio has firmly established itself, are local advertisers looking at radio as a part of the regular media plan? And are they looking at radio as a reminder medium or a brand-building medium? The clients’ need to use radio as an effective advertising medium varies. We have had clients who used radio to launch new products (MTV Plugged). Some used radio purely to drive home their sales message and explain product attributes. Other established brands used radio as a reminder medium. We also ran a number of successful promotions that were custom-made to suit the client objective. So, radio is slowly being included in media plans though there is still long way to go. But with ever-rising media costs, radio or at least the way we sell our station, is becoming a cost effective high frequency option.

Q. Who are the prominent local advertisers in Kolkata?

Major local advertisers in Kolkata include Jewellery (M P Jewellers, P C Chandra, Senco Gold etc), Publications (Ananda Bazar Patrika, The Telegraph), Food Products (Priya Biscuits, Golden Bakery), Petroleum Products (Indian Oil Corporation), Paints (Berger Paints), Textiles and Cell Phones Providers (Hutch, Airtel, Reliance).

Q. RED FM has signed on Usha Uthup as the celebrity RJ on the station and a number of seasoned RJs for regular programming. Is this posing stiff competition? Do you plan to follow suit?

I really don’t think that celebrities are an option that can be used to win listenership consistently. In my opinion, ultimately music is the real ‘star’ of the radio.

Q. What was the response to ‘Beat the Bomb?’ It is believed that RED FM has followed suit with ‘RED Ka Dhan Dhamaka?’

I believe too that Red FM has launched a new promotion, which is conceptually very similar to our launch promotion ‘Beat The Bomb’. The very fact that this promotion is being replicated speaks for itself. ‘Beat The Bomb’ was a phenomenal success. The excitement generated proved to be a big boost to the station, especially when it was recognized as the wackiest promotion and won the ‘Promo Power Award.’

Q. Tell us about some of the on-ground and on-air promotions you’ve lined up?

We have a few promotions in the pipeline. The promotions range from wacky to funny and gutsy ones. All I can say is wait and watch.

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