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Radio experiments with cross-border programming

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Radio experiments with cross-border programming

While medium such as print, broadcast and digital have figured ways and measures to reach out to international audiences, radio too seems to have joined the bandwagon; it is adopting the cross-over format to overcome geographical boundaries.

Early this month, Big FM and Radio Mirchi connected with radio stations in Pakistan to promote Indo-Pak singing reality show Sur-Kshetra. Radio Mirchi connected with City FM 89 with RJ Wes Malik who hosts the show ‘The Drive-Thru’ and Big FM connected with RJ Beena Benjamin to speak about music there and discuss Sur-Kshetra.

“Radio is all about music, and we thought what better way to promote cross-border music than actually connect with the music from across the border. Radio stations, whether in India or Pakistan or any other country, are always about music, and that is where we would find common ground,” said Preeti Nihalani, Cluster Head, Mumbai, Radio Mirchi.

Prior to the campaign, Radio Mirchi created an on-air musical battle, giving the feel of musical Mahabharata. On the launch day, it connected with the ‘other team’, exchanged good wishes and discussed music.

A similar campaign called ‘Aazadi Sarhadon Se’ was taken up by My FM on Independence Day. It partnered with Radio 1 FM 91 in Pakistan and the show was specially programmed to air simultaneously in the 17 My FM cities in India and major cities in Pakistan including Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad and Gawadar. Two episodes of three hours each aired on August 14 and 15. RJs and renowned personalities from both stations and countries contributed to the show with their messages and performances.

Commenting on the campaign, Harrish M Bhatia, CEO, My FM said, “We wanted to extend this to the radio medium, which is both, locally appealing as well as widely consumed, making it a very apt medium to deliver such impactful content. ‘Aazadi Sarhadon Se’ was specially created for Independence Day celebrations; however, it also has mass appeal as it touches emotional chords among our audiences.”

With extensive Bollywoodisation and repetitive show formats, cross-border programmes bring in a breath of fresh air in terms of content and variety and also help terrestrial radio break free from geographical boundaries. However, keeping in mind the current global scenario and the technological barriers, cross-border programming has a lot to deal with.

“Making sure that sensitive topics were avoided was a major challenge. We had to acquire relevant permissions from the radio station in Pakistan. However, the programming team handled it all smoothly,” added Nihalani.

According to Bhatia, cross-border programming has worked well previously for television and music industries and radio too has the potential to see it grow.

While cross-border programming caters to audience need, is it appreciated by advertisers too?
“The marketing budgets are usually for specific geography (India) and getting a wider range of audience or spill over in some country might not attract advertisers but appeal to the broadcasters such as TV channels for promotion of key programmes,” commented Saravanan Mudaliar, Media Director, Carat Media India.

With programmes such as ‘Yaadon ka Idiotbox’ (Big FM) and ‘Bhabhi ka Show’ (Red FM) in the market, radio players are trying to deviate from the traditional content line-up and it seems like cross-border programming is a step in the right direction.


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