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Jayyant Bhokare

COO | 04 Feb 2009

In the early days of radio, it was seen as a medium for dissemination of information, and there was always a community which wanted to propagate radio as part of the media plan. Today, things have changed. Radio is part of majority of the clients. The way they look at radio is also different. However, I feel it is still a challenge for many to understand how to use radio effectively.

Jayyant Bhokare is the Chief Operating Officer of Radio Indigo 91.9 FM, a Jupiter Capital Venture. Indigo plays contemporary international music and is currently present in Bangalore and Goa.

Bhokare has over 14 years of cross-functional experience in media sales and management, business development across print, television, radio, digital and outdoor. In his earlier stints, he has been responsible for creating and sustaining various businesses ranging from Reliance Entertainment – Adlabs Films Ltd. (Radio Initiative) as Vice President-Business Development, and Vice President – Business Development (News Outdoor) STAR TV.

In conversation with exchange4media’s Tuhina Anand, Bhokare speaks at length about Radio Indigo’s programming strategy and the mantra for building greater connect with one’s listeners.

Q. Please update us with the latest at Radio Indigo.

Some time back, we had embarked on an exercise where we changed the entire programming of the station. We have also put together an entirely new team. The change in programming is in concurrence with our positioning and TG, which we think we needed to capture. We are a CHR (Current Hit Radio) station, but within that we want to be adult contemporary.

Q. What prompted you to bring about these changes?

When we launched, we were a CHR station predominantly reaching Sec A and B in the age group of 15 years and above. We thought of further refining our TG with the core TG in the age group of 20-35 years, comprising working adults or those just out of college. Of course, there is no denying that there would be spillages on either ends. We also have a significant listenership from the older group and have targeted programmes for them over the weekend.

We went through data to understand our listeners and their profiles. We want to add a new set of listeners besides our loyal set of listeners. We are niche in that sense of the word, but if we are targeting 7 lakh listeners, then I don’t know why we should be called niche. Also, the quality of listeners we provide to our advertisers is a potent mix, which offers huge scope of conversion. Even if one takes the base of SEC A and B on the total listenership, we have almost 70-80 per cent Sec A and B. Going by numbers, too, there is much swinging towards us, especially when it comes to targeting that particular core audience. And of course, there are aspiring Cs and Bs wanting to listen all the time.

The shift has worked very well for us. The whole philosophy of our music is that we play hit music rather than making music hit. Breaking music is one way of looking at it, but we are breaking music that has been doing very well globally. That has made us re-look at our entire strategy, resulting in tighter and sleeker shows.

Q. What is the unique factor for Radio Indigo other than that it plays international music?

The biggest thing that we take pride in is the emotional connect that we have with our listeners. Indigo has taken strides to engage with listeners and be a good citizen. It could be in different forms, like some time back we had done the environment friendly exercise of Indigo goes green. We received tremendous response to that. The response actually was mind boggling because a lot of people took time off their work to respond to us and took a pledge to be part of our movement. I think that says a lot of the involvement of our listeners with the station, especially in today’s scenario where time is the essence of everything.

Q. In terms of numbers, Indigo would probably never get volumes as compared to players that play regional music. Do you agree?

Yes and no. It matters when it comes to share of the revenue and advertising pie, which we need to garner. Everyone knows that we are an ‘English station’, and that in itself has its own base. I think we need to be judged on those parameters more than anything else. We are relevant to more brands, and a brand mapping will show favourable results for us.

We stand to gain more of SEC A+, A and B, not only because of the kind of music we play, but by sheer content which excites this kind of TG. Our content and the information we share with our listeners have helped us in building the connect with our audience. Like in Bangalore, some time back there was a huge traffic jam and the city came to a standstill. We immediately sent our promoters there with food packets, biscuits and water. We announced on air that if people were tuned in to Radio Indigo, they could just wave at us and we would be there. We got tremendous response, which shows that any given point of time our listeners are tuned in and are also involved.

Q. Who would you say is competition, considering there is hardly any station dedicated to international music besides Indigo?

Competition is all around. TOI is competition as it has the same set of readers as my listeners. In all different forms, television is competition for us. English news channels are competition. As far as radio is concerned, people have taken the stance to be regional to garner those numbers, where no one is talking of quality of numbers. That’s the choice they have made. For a network-led station, it probably makes sense to show more numbers. Having said that, we have a unique advantage as well of not taking that stance. Our listeners are more discerning, educated; they are proactive and very much involved citizens. They are global people, who are always on the move. They are very much aware of what is happening around the globe. That’s the kind of audience we cater to and want to continue to cater to.

Q. In that case, the advertisers must be making a beeline for Radio Indigo...

It’s something we hope. To be honest, they are not making a beeline, but it’s not that bad either. Brands that have been with us have stayed with us. Also, brands that target our kind of audience make sure that we are part of their media plans.

Q. Do you see a change in the way marketers are looking at radio as a medium?

In the early days of radio, it was seen as a medium for dissemination of information, and there was always a community which wanted to propagate radio as part of the media plan. Today, things have changed. Radio is part of majority of the clients. The way they look at radio is also different.

However, I feel it is still a challenge for many to understand how to use radio effectively. Globally, radio has been a more tactical medium, which is closer to the point of sale. There have been successes, but we haven’t been able to put a finger on it and say this is the way radio can be used. Largely, the onus lies on radio players like us to propagate and educate about the medium. Radio needs to showcase its power of the medium. It has done well when it comes to CSR, which requires getting people at one location in thousands. But when it comes to brands, I think they need to leverage the power of the medium. To my mind, there is a creative gap that needs to be addressed and make the medium sexy.

We will undertake a couple of workshops and forum for creative people as a move towards that. We are much closer to international radio in our form and avatar, which itself gives us an opportunity to undertake such kinds of activities. We have experts from abroad to help people use radio effectively. We plan to conduct a workshop with creative agencies. It will be pathbreaking as media planners and buyers currently look at radio merely as a cost effective medium and it is not a priority for them as of now.

Q. Radio is still being used as a recall medium and not a prime medium. Do you think this can change in the near future?

The AROI has been talking about our reach, which is much larger than television channels and newspapers put together. As far as reach is concerned, we have achieved that and will grow in penetration as radio grows. In my earlier stints, we have launched brands on the radio. Think of a retailer who doesn’t have to consult large agencies for buying something on a medium. He has to put his own hand in the pocket and pay the money. From a retail perspective, I think those are the guys who have effectively used radio. They have launched their schemes, products and plans on radio. There are also large corporates who have done that in the past. In my previous job, we had done a soft launch for Fastrack sunglasses through radio.

Q. How do you look at building brand Radio Indigo?

We have people around who are passionate about music, rather than just look at it as a business to be managed. Half of our staff would be musicians in their own right and there is a great creative talent pool. The changes that we have done in programming and our initiatives will help us reach our relevant TGs.

The relevant TG knows about Radio Indigo and I have met people in Delhi and Mumbai who are absolutely sold on Radio Indigo. It’s pretty much a known brand. Maybe visibility could be an issue, but we don’t have huge monies to spend on that. We do want to spend, but it will be done judiciously where we will make every rupee work harder. We are a medium and that itself gives us an opportunity to reach out. Also, we have tied up with places that matter, like in Goa we are at Mambos and Titos. In Bangalore, we have tied up with more than 20 outlets that are frequented by people with preference for our kind of music.

We have positioned ourselves as ‘Colour of Music’, and in Bangalore we also add ‘Soul of Bangalore’ to our tagline. Just like Bangalore, our station, our soul is eclectic, fun loving, free spirited and a responsible music station.

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