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Mumbai is (not) too cosmopolitan for Marathi: FM players

18-June-2009
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Mumbai is (not) too cosmopolitan for Marathi: FM players

If FM stations in Bangalore, Chennai, Pune or even Ahmadabad have given a lot of importance to their respective local languages from RJ-ing to playing their local languages, Mumbai has stayed away from going down the same route of adopting its own local flavours. It is rare to hear a Marathi number, or the RJ break into a Marathi joke, on the mainstream channels.

Big FM was probably the first FM station that went local in mid-May this year by launching the Marathi program ‘Masala Chaha’ on the breakfast show, every Sunday from 6 am to 8 am. The content in the show includes Marathi aarti, bhajans and bhavgeete in the first hour followed by discussions on regional issues and city relevant subjects, packaged with Marathi songs from films and hit Marathi albums.

Cosmopolitan Mumbai has good chunk of Marathi listeners informed Nirupam Sonu, Programming Head, Big FM. He said, “Radio is an extremely local medium of entertainment and caters to the local populace. Our programming is put together after much research and understanding of consumer requirements. Mumbai is one city, which has a distinct language of its own that has neither pure Hindi nor pure Marathi. Whilst Bollywood music is key, there is a need for Marathi music, given the large Marathi following populace.”

In agreement are Radio Mirchi and Fever FM who too have initiated Marathi content in certain slots.

Kunal Jamuar, GM, Madison Media, pointed out, “In comparison to other parts of the country, Mumbai is very cosmopolitan. There will always be an interest in Bollywood songs, which is appealing to the masses. However, in terms of audience, a Marathi show will have a fairly large number of listeners. Hence, it’s not an either-or situation; both can co-exist.”

Listener Appeal

Abraham Thomas, COO, Red FM, informed, “I am sure there is a market for languages like Marathi, and with a considerable number too. For stations it’s about choosing a particular TG, and then super serving them with a programming format suitable for them. Being a mass station, we try and do that in the best possible way without alienating any particular segment of audience.”

Both, Rana Barua, Executive Vice President and National Head- Programming and Marketing Radio City, as well as Neeraj Chaturvedi, National Marketing and Promotional Head, Fever FM, are of the similar opinion that it is difficult for a Marathi programme to work, as the audience of purely the local language is not as great as it is in other cities.

For some FM stations, Mumbai may appear to be a tad cosmopolitan to cater to a regional language. However, others disagree and happy to see a new set of listeners tune into their regional programming.

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