Most FM stations in India today play the role of a ‘jukebox’ sans the coins. The radio content is predominantly based on music, with variations of celebrity chats, interactive sessions, and useful information pertaining to everyday life. News and current affairs have still not made it to FM radio and the market is yet to evolve for niche categories. But, if at all the monotony of same content and same sound across stations all over the country has set in, no one is sure.
According to Naresh Alambara, GM, Starcom Worldwide, Chennai, breaking the monotony is still not an option for most of the radio stations. He said, “Most of the radio stations are still caught in the brand building stage. Everybody is trying to emerge with some kind of differentiating content, but no one is going into any kind of experimentation beyond music.”
Through its programme called ‘Olichithiram’, Tamil FM station Hello FM has resorted to the old school format of the All India Radio by airing soundtracks of movies. The station airs full length movies on Sunday afternoons. On the occasion of Superstar Rajnikanth’s birthday on December 12, the station aired the superhero’s movie ‘Chandramukhi’ at 9 pm. According to the station officials, the format was believed to have worked among various sections of listeners across its different stations in Tamil Nadu.
According to Rajeev Nambiar, CEO, Hello FM, “All along, television has been riding the fame when it comes to exploiting the virtues of film industry and its icons.”
Commenting on the idea behind introducing an experimental format in its content, Ramesh SK, Executive Vice President & Head - Content, Hello FM, said, “More often than not, the joy of listening to good story-telling is better than the experience of reading or viewing. In today’s radio environment, where near-parity prevails across stations in terms of genre, music and format, playing full length film soundtracks sans songs of good films promise to infuse a breath of fresh air. However, we have been extremely careful while selecting films that are radio-friendly. Having pioneered this trend in the country, we play this once a week on Sunday afternoons.
But as a special offering to our listeners and the almost religious fan-following, we play soundtracks of films featuring stars on their birthdays. Thus was born this initiative and the response has been more than overwhelming.”
The format of watching movies with ears might be doing some rounds, but the scope for newer innovations in the content might still not be on the cards of most FM stations. Reasoning this out, Alambara further said, “FM stations will get into the experimentation mode once multiple frequencies for FM channels are introduced.”