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Retro music, a potential content genre for smaller radio stations

10-July-2013
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Retro music, a potential content genre for smaller radio stations

Retro music on radio has been evoking feelings of nostalgia amongst listeners for a long time now, but it is only in the last few years that radio players started using retro content to create differentiation in various time slots. Meanwhile, FM stations such as Radio One and Big FM have changing their stationality to retro completely.

Retro – broadcasters’ approach
Yesteryears melodies were initially inserted in the late night time band, keeping in mind the mood and the ambience that the listeners are likely to be in. Shows such as ‘Purani Jeans’, ‘Kal Bhi Aaj Bhi’, and ‘Yaadon ka Idiotbox’, among others, still essentially play retro content in the time band.

As the industry moves ahead with ages and the TG, it is essential for radio players to maintain the heritage of the retro content, feels Kartik Kalla, National Programming Head, Radio City. “Retro is a very integral part of our music policy and programming. Catering to our listeners’ choice, we have placed retro in time bands when people like to hear it the most,” he added.

Radio City introduced retro in night time band with ‘Kal Bhi Aaj Bhi’ and also plays similar content in its show ‘Love Guru’. The station had also introduced a show with well-known radio personality Ameen Sayani, which featured retro music and ghazals.

According to a FICCI-KPMG report, 48 per cent of the radio listeners are in the 20-40 age group, thus a major need gap was witnessed in the radio space. “Retro content plays the general function of diversification in a major way. For significant growth, FM players have to look at areas where there is no growth and create fragmentation,” said Tapas Sen, Chief Programming Officer, Radio Mirchi.

Radio Mirchi airs retro music in its show ‘Purani Jeans’. The show was extended offline with a number of ‘Purani Jeans’ film festivals and other such initiatives.

Retro – a self-sufficient content genre?
It may be recalled that Radio One was the first station to go retro completely in their Ahmedabad and Kolkata stations. Big FM transferred their stationality to retro in Delhi almost a year ago and their Mumbai station followed suit recently.

Giving the reason behind this decision, Vineet Singh Hukmani, MD and CEO, Radio One said, “Retro is a very viable genre as it engages an older higher net worth individual. The momentum in this genre comes from listeners looking at entertainment beyond just new Bollywood music.”

Retro also widens the reach for a number of radio stations as it caters to audiences who drift away from the medium, thus attracting advertiser attention. “Sectors such as finance, auto and real estate that have a 25-plus TG prefer stations with wider reach,” pointed out Ashwin Padmanabhan, Business Head, Big FM.

Retro music comes across as a very potential genre and a welcome change from the mass formats. However, for broadcasters it shall always be a tight rope walk due to steep license fees.

Moreover, retro as a genre is a trend seen only among radio stations that were established more recently, as compared to initial players such Radio City and Mirchi. It could be a result of the bigger radio stations occupying the contemporary space, thus creating need for differentiation for the smaller or more recent players.

While retro has proved to be a self-sufficient genre for radio stations such as Radio One and Big FM, bigger players do not seem to be making much effort to use retro music beyond the differentiation format.

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