IMPACT Annv Spl: On running an all English radio station
George M George, CEO, Chennai Live 104.8 FM, writes about the advantages and disadvantages of being an all English talk radio station.
Wherever I travel in India, people ask me the same questions: what is it like to operate a 24x7 English radio station? Do people want to listen to English music on the radio? How big is your audience? How do you make revenue from an English radio station?
Interestingly enough, it’s the same audience that consumes English music and media that asks these questions, at least the people that I have met. So let me pen down my thoughts in seven points as to what it is like to run an all English radio station.
Chennai Live 104.8 FM is the only English radio station in the city of Chennai and we have brought a whole new set of audiences to radio listenership. Those who avoided radio, primarily because of the regional content that most radio stations provided, are now flocking to our station because it provides them value from the infotainment.
We frequently hear loyal listenership statistics from various other stations, but unless the content is differentiated, there is room for doubt about who stays loyal to which station, let alone knowing which one they are listening to. In this respect we enjoy an audience that comes to us, and stays with us, only because of the content we provide, which is highly differentiated from the others.
But, we have a challenge. Being the only English station in town makes it difficult for us to cater to all the various genres our audience clamours for. So we need to continuously segment our programming to please at least certain sections of our audience, but not all. Our fan mail speaks volumes about this.
Our next challenge is that of being a single radio station with a segmented audience (meaning we are not into ‘mass’ radio). It takes a bit of convincing for our clients to appreciate this fact and over a period of time they see the benefit of advertising their brand on Chennai Live. Therefore, we have to be very selective about who should advertise on our station. A brand that does not meet the requirement of our audience would only be wasting their precious resources without adequate results.
But we still can’t offer the benefits of a networked station. When it comes to media, most brands blindly follow the mantra of mass media buying and ignore the ones that offer more intrinsic benefits to their brand in each market. But the continued focus on our audience and the market we operate in gives us that edge over other networked stations in Chennai and this is what our clients have been appreciating over the years.
Now let me get to the real essence of an English radio station: the talent. The team at Chennai Live is very close knit and so communication is easy and frequent. But more importantly, we carry the right attitude towards our work. It’s the passion for what we do that matters. We love radio, we love the content and we just love to hear back from the people we interact with. And we all love to party, especially with our listeners! If we are not having any fun doing what we do best, then we will rewire and do it all over again to see where the fun element is. And it only seems to happen in an all English radio station.
But on the flip side, it’s hard to find the right people. We are not looking for presenters/ RJs. We look for people with passion, attitude, communication skills and good general knowledge about anything and everything, especially English music. You could be a doctor, business person, tech geek or anything else that warrants a bio, but if you don’t have what it takes, then we don’t have what it gives.
In short, we love what we do at Chennai Live and are proud to be part of a great city and its people. And we will keep doing it till our voices wear out or our last listener leaves.
Psssstt: we are the only radio station in the country named after the city we talk to!
(George M George is Chief Executive Officer, Chennai Live 104.8 FM.)
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