South Africa-based Kagiso Media is keenly looking at the burgeoning Indian radio industry. Kagiso is a leading media company with interests in media assets, including broadcasting, radio airtime sales and consumer and trade exhibitions.
As the Indian radio industry is at a turning point, Kagiso aims to tap the ever-growing demand for skilled people, management and investment that this industry will need in the near future. Kagiso is famous for turning around the fortunes of failing radio stations in South Africa. It has generally done so by acquiring a stake in such radio stations or by being hired to manage and revamp them.
Kagiso strongly believes that the popularity of a radio station depends largely on its relationship with the listeners. Omar Essack, Executive Director, Broadcasting, Kagiso Media, said, “The radio industry in India is exploding. With almost 300 radio stations set to start operations in the next few months, there is clearly a demand for talent, research and management. There are innumerable opportunities for training people, in sales as well as innovative programming.”
Kagiso is in discussion with several industry players for strategic tie-ups. However, Essack firmly believes that while investment in infrastructure is important, it is more important that industry players first invest in the right talent base. Essack said, “While industry players spend crores on infrastructure, it would be great if they would also invest in the right people.”
Another aspect that Kagiso is focusing on is intensive research methodology. According to Essack, while programming preferences of people might differ from one country to another, the research methodology that Kagiso has so well executed in South Africa will hold relevant for the radio industry in India as well.
Essack said, “The radio is a very intimate medium. There are several ways that radio can connect with listeners such as tying up with community leaders, colleges, young people, and local social activities. These initiatives give a sense of importance to listeners and lend a certain level of interactivity to the radio station.”
The response to Kagiso has been very encouraging and there are several issues that Kagiso is in the process of sorting out for the Indian radio industry. Some of these issues are the lack of radio measurement in India, judgment in buying the right radio spots, etc.
Kagiso is also targeting the core characteristic of the Indian radio industry -- Hindi film music. Said Essack, “The dominance of film music in India in radio makes it all the more imperative for each station to have a distinct identity.” According to Essack, this can be tackled by focusing on pull-based programming rather than push-based. This can be done by increasing communication with young students who can be a part of a radio’s website to draw up a list of songs that can be played at particular intervals. Students then get a chance to be radio programmers and can decide on the song list by logging on to radio websites that are specifically designed for this purpose.
One thing that Essack strongly promotes is designing radio websites that support people interaction and also cover larger subjects like lifestyle and community activities. The idea, he said, is to have multiple platforms by building a bridge between Internet and radio.
As Essack said, “Media does not control people but people control media.” It is this simple understanding that is the key to Kagiso’s worldwide success.