For Tamilians across the world wanting to listen to radio from Chennai, the solution is here on the PC. And it's from the man whose micro-corder hidden in a spectacle case exposed senior officials in one of the first sting operations in Tamil journalism, way back in 1989. The founder and former Editor of Tamil weekly Tharasu, Shyam, has launched a Tamil Broadband Internet Radio station. The station, www.shyamradio.com, started broadcasting on the web on April 14, and the promoters claim to have sorted out all technical aspects during this soft-launch period.
This follows Shyam's attempts to launch a Satellite Television News Channel Tharasu TV, which he said will follow on the Internet route soon. In 1997, Tharasu TV programmes used to be on air through a tie-up with NEPC TV.
Speaking to exchange4media, Shyam, Honorary Editor of Shyam Radio, and a practising advocate at the Madras High Court, said, "Development of the Net as a medium was impeded by bandwidth availability issues. Now it is available. What is needed now is the audience. With PC prices and Internet access costs coming down, we will see more people looking at the Internet as a medium of entertainment."
The station offers current affairs and entertainment content. News bulletins are expected to commence in June. Shyam believes that the entry cost for FM is not justified given the geographic limitations. The cost of advertising on shyamradio.com, he said, will be a tenth of what it takes to be on FM. He admitted that the concept of Internet radio would enter households on a considerable scale only by March/April 2006.
"When we launched Tharasu, there were no revenue expectations. It was a magazine without advertisements, by design. In this case, we will have to look at advertisements, from people who want to address Tamil speaking audiences the world over," he added.
He indicated that the target areas would therefore include matrimonial services, travel and tourism, education and media, among others.
From April 14 till date, maximum traffic for the station has been recorded from France, followed by Australia, India and Switzerland, with close to 12,000 hits in the soft launch period. The station is currently scouting for a marketing consultant or agency to work with on a revenue-sharing model. The station is also looking for RJs and hosts for its shows, and is keen on fresh talent.
Shyam said, "We are giving content relevant to Tamils the world over from Tamil Nadu. It is not the same as a station from Singapore or anywhere else. We have even district-wise news."
He admitted that programming for different time zones is a huge challenge, saying that they are continuously working on the content side. The station is also working on its design and brand colours, with a makeshift page on view currently. The homepage will not carry any banners or advertisements, as this would increase the download time, which is currently almost instantaneous, he added.