Station Head (Kolkata) | 16 Dec 2003
"RED is a mass-based station, and each station has its own feel and differentiation based on local content, presentation and play list, drawn from regular research in these regions.”
Hailing from Kolkata, Jimmy started deejaying in the late 80’s. In ‘93 he started deejaying at Incognito – the nightclub at Taj Bengal, soon hooking on to Times FM. In 2000, he joined Saregama Broadcast software as Country Content Head. When private FM stations mushroomed, Jimmy joined RED FM as Station Head, Kolkata.
In this session, Jimmy Tangree talks to Jasmeen Dugal about radio – then and now, how RED FM, Kolkata differs in programming and content from other cities and the station’s positioning – 'Internationally packaged programmes with local content.’
Q. Jimmy, you’re a veteran in the radio game. What was the response to radio in the yesteryears, and how does it differ from listeners’ reaction today?
In ‘94, radio was synonymous with Vividh Bharati, and was a secondary form of entertainment. With the emergence of FM radio, the scene changed. Radio was treated as a 24-hour entertainment medium; from the time FM was launched by private players, the average radio listenership in India went up from 50 minutes a day to 160 minutes.
Today listeners are choosier, and they know that they play a part in deciding the songs that are played on a particular station. Radio is now more interactive, and the listeners regularly interrelate with the various stations, unlike yesteryears when radio was a non-interactive medium.
Q. How are you competing with other FM players in Kolkata, given the similarity of programming played out on most?
Radio is a very personal medium. Whereas television is a medium that's driven by programming and not by the persona of the channel, it's a different ballgame on radio. We play what the city wants. If it happens to be Hindi music, it's Hindi music that we play. However, we are focusing on a certain audience, rather than going mass. While we are not targeting any categories depending on their socio-economic class, it is the older, educated audience that gets our attention more than the younger listeners.
Our music crosses the time barrier since we play golden oldies and contemporary music. Additionally, we have a completely live and interactive station, broadcasting music and simultaneously providing the latest information on the current happenings within the city, whether it’s a traffic jam, an event or a contest on-location.
Q. How does RED, Kolkata differ in programming from Mumbai and Delhi?
RED is a mass-based station, and each station has its own feel and differentiation based on local content, presentation and play list, which is drawn from regular research in these regions. Thus, the treatments of all the stations are different, keeping in view the preferences of the listeners in each region.
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?
Since FM has recently been introduced, advertisers are taking some time, but we are constantly educating them about the benefits of advertising on this mass medium. The listeners on their part are extremely happy with the emergence of FM in the city, especially since the various radio stations have kept the sensitivities of the city in mind while producing their programmes. Moreover, listeners in Kolkata are very warm and highly responsive; they know exactly what they want. The response to FM has been tremendous over the last six months and is constantly growing.
Q. RED has been positioned as a station that features 'Internationally packaged programmes with local content.' How have you achieved this in the Kolkata content?
Internationally, radio is a much-evolved medium, and therefore, the quality standards are extremely high. We strive to maintain the same level of quality standards in terms of packaging, presentation and production, while at the same time, provide content that is completely local and in tune with the listening preferences of our target listeners. Quality and localized contents are two factors that are paramount for the success and growth of any FM station.
Q. Could you comment on the competition RED FM is facing in Kolkata?
The recent survey by DRS shows that RED is the most popular station in Kolkata, with four out of the top five programmes belonging to RED – ‘Nomoskar Kolkata’ with Sanjeeb & Moushumi, ‘Chitthi Aayi Hai’ with Rakesh & Pragya, ‘Hello Kolkata’ with Mir & Arnab and ‘Red Express’ with Nidhi. As per the DRS survey, amongst the most popular RJ’s in Kolkata, Rakesh & Pragya, Ameen Sayani and Usha Uthup occupy the top spot.
Q. Why has RED not been as aggressive in promoting itself as the others?
This is a misconception. RED FM has been the most aggressive station in terms of promotional activities. It was the only one that took the radio station to the streets; we had events even before radio broadcasting started. And we had as many as two hundred hoardings put up at various places in the city.
Moreover, RED has associated with seventy-eight events in Kolkata from the date the station was launched in June 2003. This makes thirteen brand associations per month, and in October, RED associated with twenty-three events during the festive season. Some interesting promotions include a stint at Shoppers Stop for a live entertainment evening with me on the turntables and the RJs interacting with the crowd. We were also the official radio partners at the CII Fair.
Q. Now that radio has firmly established itself, are local advertisers looking at radio as a part of their media plan? Are they looking at radio as a reminder medium or a brand-building medium?
Local advertisers are looking at radio as a part of their media plan. It is being used extensively both as a brand building and a reminder medium depending upon brand to brand, and the stage of brand life cycle that it is in. Retail advertising has been strong during occasions like Diwali. Strategic media plans are being drawn around radio, since the media planners and advertisers alike have recognized the strengths of this extremely powerful medium.
Q. RED FM has signed on Usha Uthup as a celebrity RJ, besides a number of other seasoned RJs for regular programming. How has this benefited the station?
Well, a popular voice that is a part of the musical world of Kolkata brings about a greater attachment to the channel.
Q. What kind of programming was spun around the festive season? What was the response? How was it different from the clutter of festive promotions on all the channels?
The programming during the festive month was drawn around various events in the city. Therefore, around Puja, the festival spirit was evident in all our programming initiatives. We tied up with as many as sixty puja pandals. There were live updates; crowd responses drew in the listeners, and instilled a feeling of ‘being there.’
Additionally, we’ve associated with eight dandias in the city, with celebrity interaction being an integral part of the programming, accompanied by live broadcast from the venues. RED took their listeners to the midst of the activity, excitement and festivity.
Our range of festive activities includes our puja association with The Telegraph & CESC for the ‘Best-Spirited Puja Awards,’ a tie-up with The Telegraph & ING Vysya Bank for the ‘Hand n Hand’ for the best puja ceremony in housing sectors, an association with Bank of Maharashtra, Kolkata Police, Fire Brigade & Havell for ‘Safety Awards’ for the community pujas and with Rotaract Club for the ‘Best Puja Awards.’ These puja associations gave us visibility at each pandal locality.
Q. Tell us about some on-ground and on-air promotions on the cards.
There are a lot of events coming up; our strategy is very clear – its a combination of audibility of radio and visibility on ground; till date we have had a combination of over three hundred on-ground events and over 1,932 contests on-air, along with a lot of performances by the Rjs on-ground.