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Radio Duniya 2008: ‘There is no such thing as corporate social responsibility in radio’

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Radio Duniya 2008:  ‘There is no such thing as corporate social responsibility in radio’

The afternoon sessions of the two-day Radio Duniya Conference 2008, being held in the Capital on February 11-12, saw discussions being held on the power and responsibility of radio, striking a balance between business models and social responsibilities, as well as radio content.

The afternoon kicked off with a session on ‘Power and Responsibility of Radio: Role of Programming’. The session highlighted the potentiality of radio as a medium of communication, where it commands huge attention from its audience, and at the same time striking a balance between the business model and social responsibility. While all radio stations are striving to increase listenership with 70 per cent of the content being song and music, the correct programming mix is the answer to the great audience puzzle.

The session was moderated by Sameer Kanwar, National Programming Head, Mantra FM. The speakers for the session included Vehrnon Ibrahim, National Programming Head, Red FM; Varsha Chowdhury, Programming Director, Radio City; S K Ramesh, Executive VP and Head of Content, Hello FM; and Rajiv Shukla, Deputy Director – Programming and Director General, All India Radio.

Kanwar observed, “Radio today has 99 per cent penetration in India, even among people who don’t know how to read or write. In that scenario, radio is a source of exclusive news for them.”

According to Radio City’s Chowdhury, “Radio is the same everywhere and is the most local form of medium that reaches pout to people while entertaining them and taking up responsibilities. Its power lies in its ability to connect with the emotions of the listeners. A simple programme of blood donation campaign aired at the time of need touches the heart and mind of the people who listen to it, demanding immediate action. The bottomline is to deliver while thinking like the listener and not as a radio professional.”

Speaking about the responsibility factor, Hello FM’s Ramesh said that television and cinema had diluted the culture and ethos of the society. “Radio plays a simple yet very powerful responsible role as it helps to bind the people together through culture, language, religion and common things to talk about,” he noted.

All India Radio’s Shukla said, “Radio is doing well for the masses and is also commercially viably, generating revenues through advertisements. The purpose of AIR is to inform, educate and entertain, and also equally catering to all the segments of the society, languages and local dialects. Our responsibility lies in preserving the culture and heritage through propagating particularly the classical and folk music of the country.”

Red FM’s Ibrahim had a point to make when he said, “There is no such thing as corporate social responsibility (CSR) in radio, what we call today as responsible programming is actually an innovative strategy to market the programme. I think CSR is not the right term to define it, but in the days to come there might be a term to define CSR in the radio terminology. We are not corporates, we are radio stations and we deliver programmes to make the listener happy. If this conference is a public forum, then my radio station delivers the programmes to make people happy, but if it is an industry forum, then we are doing the right kind of stuff to generate revenue.”

The session was followed by the Radio Duniya Leaders’ Conclave. The finalists, who were chosen from among the 30-odd nominees, included Anil Srivatsa, COO, Radio Today; Nisha Narayanan, Project Head, S FM; and Rajeev Nambiar, President and COO, Hello FM. The other two finalists – Harrish M Bhatia, Business Head, My FM, and Rajeev Mishra, CMD, Digital Broadcasting Pvt Ltd – could not make it to the Conclave.

The finalists were asked to speak on ‘What makes a good leader?’, and were judged on their presentations. The winner would be announced at the Radio Duniya Awards, which will mark the conclusion of the Radio Duniya Conference on February 12.

Making his presentation, Srivatsa said that a good leader knew who he was leading and why he was leading them, while boosting the confidence of the people he was leading.

According to Hello FM’s Nambiar, a person with vision that could be shared across ranks and always thought about monetising the brand’s progress was a true leader. S FM’s Narayanan, on the other hand, stressed that a leader should understand management, business and also what ailed the industry and strive to make it better.


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