Radio City is all set to draw curtains on "FM 91 Suno, Lakhpati Bano", this week. Says Sumantra Dutta, Chief Operating officer, Radio City, "We are still internally debating whether we should end it this week or continue it for some more time." As for the reason of deciding to end 'the biggest game show on radio in India', he says, "There is the issue of budget, the pool of money that we have, and then there are other activities that we want to launch." He also claims that a study conducted by the station indicates a 300% in the listenership after the launch of FM 91 Suno, Lakhpati Bano.
But will the listeners who came to the station due to lure of lucre stick around when the show is pulled off? Says Dutta, "With any contest - in any environment in any media, there is a surge that you get for a contest, which is many times greater than the audience you had before the contest. Post the contest, the audience, which has been able to form a bond with the station keeps coming back. My personal belief is that a lot of people come on to the station today because of the programming. The Lakhpati contest did for Radio City what KBC did for Star Plus."
There is a fair chance that once the contest is pulled off air, competition would bring in bigger contests to get the lost listeners, if any, back. For instance, Radio Mirchi's much hyped game show Tambola is on hold till now, and might be on air soon. Has Radio City prepared for it? Replies Dutta, "I don't know if the listeners are at the cost of the competition. But they would certainly be on the cost of content; our content is really being liked. Only option for a radio station to outperform others is by providing good well-packaged content. Originality is something the market would align with."
Radio Mirchi had ended its Lakhpati contest in the beginning of this month, while the Big Switch on Win 94.6 was concluded on 20th of October. And all the three stations claim that the response has been phenomenal. Three also declare that they have other contests and promotions lined up to keep the listeners coming back. To quote Dutta, "We will spend more, to earn more."
However, the media fraternity does not believe the tall claims being made by the stations. Says Ravi Kiran, Starcom, "Nobody knows real listenship, one lakhpati show on the station can't change things dramatically. Radio stations will keep on coming with stunts every month to get better listenership. However, listeners are still experimenting and they will keep on shifting. Over time a couple of strong players will emerge but there is still time for that. There is very little exclusive listenership as of now."
And as for advertisers, says Kiran, "It is only retail advertisers who have started taking interest in radio, and that is because they can't afford any other medium. For the organised advertisers, it has not really emerged as a strategic medium still, and is only a connection medium."