BWW Interview: NISHA NARAYANAN, COO, RED FM On Winning The BEST FM NETWORK 2018 And the future of radio in India
Recently, 93.5 RED FM, one of the most popular and largest private radio networks won 12 Gold and 18 Silver across categories at the India Radio Forum (IRF) 2018.
In an age where social media, seems to be fast replacing all the popular forms of mass media, the relevanxce of oldest forms of entertainment such as radio is often questioned. But despite the popular trends, data shows that radio continues to penetrate and create a lasting impression on its audiences.
Nisha Narayanan, COO, RED FM spoke to BWW world on the win and the future of radio in India.
1. What is the positioning of radio in India these days.
We have learnt in our textbooks during our school days how radio was the fastest way to receive information. Radio has a strong positioning in India. Radio for India is a powerful medium that is growing at a steady speed. It is not only interactive, but also very local in its nature. It is free of cost, unlike cable and satellite television which is getting expensive. It is much affordable compared to a mobile phone or television. Broadcast radio today reaches a staggering 99% of the Indian population. Rural India relies on it exponentially for information. Radio has become an integral part of all media plans as FM expands in tier 2 and tier 3 markets under Phase III expansion plans that helps tap larger pockets and audience through deeper penetrationI also feel Radio must play a larger role in our master plan for the 'Digital India Vision 2020'. There are many technologies yet to be experimented with to realize the vision of digital radio's future in India. India is still talking analog FM technology. The digital age, one of the biggest drivers for broadcast media is technological advancement, which could drive both content and revenue.
2. In the days of social media, what role does radio play as a mass media
Social media is a phrase that is used everywhere. It is usually described by what is on websites and apps like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and others. This is what I would call the 'Digital Age' where broadcast media is so technologically advanced which can drive both content and revenue. Radio from its early days is understood as a vital connection that has been lost in this age of consolidation, where stations are managed from afar. But it makes even more sense these days. Everything about your stations should reach the locals.
'Mumbai Khadde Mein', campaign is one of the best examples where radio used the social media platform to reach the people of India through a 'Pothole Rap' by RJ Malishka. Deeply instilled in RED FM's DNA is to be a socially relevant and responsible brand that stands up for social causes for its listeners. The video on The Pothole Rap RED FM No 1. RJ Malishka mocking BMC went viral across all social media like Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and online new portals. It gained its popularity because the video went viral on social media and was a cause for national debate on the potholes that cause a menace to travelers year on year.
We also have RED FM RJs who act as catalysts and use social media platforms and on ground to connect with the listeners. A campaign like 'Ek No. Wall' which was a civic issue of open urination on walls was taken up by RJ Raunac aka Bauaa who went on ground and stopped people from urinating on city walls. The campaign was quirky wherein was captured on camera and we had released a video which went viral on social media.
3. What are some of your programs on radio that have made a real impact and how
RED FM's constant effort has been to create meaningful and innovative content formats for everyone. We invest a lot of time to create content for various markets, keeping in mind topical issues and sentiments of the listeners.A show that was launched in the beginning of 2018 the 'Priyanka Raina Show' which is RED FM's initiative on socially relevant topics. Priyanka speaks to victims on air discussing the problem faced by women, children, men, young girls face in the society. Similarly, we also launched 'Lal Pari Mastani' which was RED FM's humble initiative to support womanhood and the spirit of freedom and progressive thinking. For the first time ever Sona Mohapatra debuted as an RJ and spoke about a mix of interesting conversations, interviews, and moments on air. These 2 shows were deeply rooted to RED FM's DNA of being socially responsible and experimenting with different content formats.
One of the most innovative campaigns Malishka Ko Matt Sun, where RED FM told listeners not to listen to Malishka. People have a habit to go against the rules and do the opposite of what is said to them. The campaign used that to drive home the point.The most recent campaign where we associated with Mr. Kailash Satyarthi under 'Bajao for a Cause' is RED FM's annual campaign where we take up social issues to raise funds to help the cause. We pick topics that are interesting and our listeners can relate to. The aim is to make a bridge between the issues and the people of this country.
4. How popular is radio in India vs in the world?
Radio was the first social media platform. It is considered to be one of the oldest mediums in the media industry. Even though it's a medium often associated with the past in popular culture, it continues to thrive in the Internet era.
Radio in India is very local in nature and is free of cost, unlike cable and satellite television. The fact that radio is interactive, and a local medium it reaches out to listeners pan India. It is ideal for low-income individuals and sparsely-populated areas since radio is affordable and can be broadcasted to reach a wider audience. In countries that have limited access to the internet and illiteracy rates are high, radio stations play a major role in sharing news and educational information too. In India, we have multiplicity of genres as well as diversity of languages with over 20 languages. Radio is a massive help there in pushing vernacular messaging.
Radio in the United States, is the third most powerful medium. It reaches about 54 percent of the country's population daily. Online radio is increasing its role in the radio market, with an estimated 61 percent of the U.S. population listening to online radio in 2017.United Kingdom, in the long term there will be a switchover from analogue to digital radio when the AM and FM services will cease. The government has set criteria on the coverage and proportion of digital listening before this occurs. In 2018 the criteria of over 50% of digital radio listening was met which will now require the UK Government to review digital radio in view of a potential switchover. In the same year, the BBC stated it would keep some FM radio for the foreseeable future. Radio has evolved and is way ahead of us.