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Wednesday, November 15, 2006



Radio is perceived to be an inexpensive medium in India, and with typical Indian disdain for which one does not have to shell out an arm and a leg, has met with limited commercial success and spawned ambigious notions of sustained profitability. In some high-profile cases, there have been entrenched players changing their positioning overnight in a frantic bid to win back lost market shares, previously peremptorily scorned in the lofty ( and futile )pursuit of a niche segment with distinguished tastes.

Into this pot pourri steps Big 92.7 FM into the claustrophobic Mumbai airspace. With the Reliance ADAG owning a lion’s share in the venture, ambition can never be found wanting, evidenced by its very name. 45 cities, 1000 towns and over 10,000 villages bear testimony to the sweeping plans that it arrives with. “ The company plans to take FM radio as a medium of entertainment not only to the key metros, but also to virgin markets that have never before experienced this medium of entertainment.”

To address the competitive nature of Radio as a medium and to ensure the Stations stands out from the clutter; BIG 92.7 FM has undertaken extensive research and in-depth analysis of the likes and dislikes of the listeners before putting together its innovative programs. Unique Auditorium Music Tests (AMT's) have been conducted across all cities and over 1000 songs run past the sample audiences to verify both local flavor and city-connect. Based on these findings, the station will air tunes, 40% of which will be exclusively heard only on BIG 92.7 FM. The music played will span eras and genres so that it appeals to all. In blind tests conducted among different audience segments, the music mix of BIG 92.7 FM was preferred over that of existing FM stations. “

Tarun Katial, Chief Operating Officer, Adlabs Radio, formerly with STAR and Sony is quietly confident and appears unfazed with the barrage of nay-sayers already lining up his alley. “One of our key findings from research was that non-listeners found radio to be irrelevant and lacking aspiration. The 20+ target audience, in particular, even in existing FM markets, did not find radio appealing to their tastes or needs. For instance, when an elderly man is asked how he perceives radio, he is of the opinion that it is for youngsters, while teenagers consider it to have more mass appeal. Housewives do not give it too much importance either. The real question they are asking is: ‘What is in it for me?’ So, we want to re-create the magic of radio.”

And further “we are saying that we are unique in our positioning – we are adult contemporary. We will play music that the listener likes and not just hits like the other stations. It will not be back-to-back Himesh Reshammiya songs, but songs from various genres. The play list at Big is based on the feedback and choice of listeners across metros. It will have 40 per cent music which will be unique to its play list. Differentiation being a key mantra for any media channel, the music on Big 92.7 FM is all set to do just that for its young adult listeners.”
( Hmm, Did I detect a faint murmur of contempt for the Bearded One ?)

So far, I find the Suno Sunao, Life Banao station slightly over the top as it packs its Good Morning ( now infamously the Gandhigiri angle !) show called Daily Chai, hosted by Pallavi Joshi and Vrijesh Hirjee to be unequivocal in its wooing of disparate interest groups with “value-adds” like suburb-wise temperature and conditions, a encouraging sound-byte from a fitness guru, something on skin and fashion and other paraphernalia. Other celeb hosts include Mona Jassi Singh and Gaurav Gera in Delhi, and Sunil Pal on the weekend.

All this is fine but where we have seen others founder, swim hopelessly upcurrent and then give up, one wonders how far and long Mr. Big would run. And what defines “aspirational “ ?

PS—Monty Panesar (another Bearded One!) was asked by an Australian whether Monty would comprehend “Indian”.
Indian, I say, Indian ! Pray what language is that ? Aussie laughing jackass ! OK, delete the laughing bit !


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