RadioandMusic
| 19 Nov 2019
Radio Misty CEO Nishant Mittal - Big brands are realising that Siliguri is a fast developing market

He's touted to be the youngest CEO of a FM radio station in the country. To add to his challenges, Nishant Mittal heads his organisation in a state that offers four countries as neighbours to India, a diverse cultural panorama that the station needs to continually needs to address. Radio Misty is a part of the PCM Group, one of the largest groups of eastern India, with interests in tea gardens, construction work, ISP and Cable TV. The group set up Radio Misty after obtaining licenses for Siliguri and Gangtok, as a subsidy company of PCM's in North Bengal.

In six months of its existence, however, Radio Misty has proved that it is here to stay. Radioandmusic.com's Shabana Ali caught up with Radio Misty CEO Nishant Mittal for a chat.

Excerpts:


What has been the response of listeners to Radio Misty thus far?

Radio Misty is the oldest FM station in Siliguri. It has completed six months and the response is very good. It took some time to establish us as a medium, but the response has been better than our expectations.


How would you describe the content you play on your radio station?

We play Hindi, Bengali, Nepali and English. We have slots for every language, with special shows dedicated for each language. Listeners tune into the station according to their preference. 60 - 75 per cent of our content is in Hindi, but we add a local flavour by promoting local talents and local artistes, who have made it big outside Siliguri.


How do you manage to cater to audiences in four different language?

By virtue of its geographical location, the north east shares borders with four countries and hence we have to cater to the diverse culture that is around us. We have done our market study to understand the audience's needs and accordingly, we have scheduled our programs and slots. This also doesn't make our station monotonous with songs of the same language over and over.


What was the idea behind coming up with a radio station in Siliguri?

Radio Misty belongs to PCM Group it is one of the largest groups of Eastern India, which has interest in tea gardens, construction work and ISP (Internet Service Provider). In the late 1999 Radio was coming up so our Chairman thought of it as a good idea. So, Radio Misty was part of our diversification plan. PCM group already had a strong presence in the media, with a local cable television network in North Bengal. So we decided to diversify and enter the radio business.

Why the name Radio Misty?

Misty means sweets in Bengali. The name is very catchy. It is a name that everyone would associate with here. We placed the station with similar name and a different purpose. This made it easier for our audience to associate with.

Who are the competitors of Radio Misty? Which are the areas the station are heard in?

We have three competitors. Two of these have already launched, while the third is yet to be launched. We are heard in four districts of Bengal - Jalpaiguri, Darjeeling, eastern part of Sikkim and north Dinajpur. Due to the mountain ranges our frequency reflects, making it difficult to trace our reach. Officially, we have an air radius of 60 kms.

What was the reason behind launching the website of the radio station?

We introduced the website to increase interactivity with our audience. It's mainly to keep our listeners daily updated. Radio Misty receives 100 letters per month and most of the writers complain that their letters were not being included in our programming. So, we decided to use our website to post the seven best letters, so our listeners do not feel neglected. There are many more value adds that we will include in our site. Apart from interactivity, it is very important for a medium like radio to have a website. We plan to include blogs and live streaming in phase two.


Is the audience net savvy enough to warrant a website?

People here are well versed with the Internet. In the first two days, our website got over 10,000 hits.


What kind of advertiser profile do you have on Misty?

We have a blend of both local and national advertisers, but most of them are local and regional clients. We get ads from corporate houses in Kolkata.

Siliguri is a developing town now, and big firms have realised that it is a good market for the investors. So, big brands are coming in this area to advertise their products.

Was it tough to convert local advertisers from opting for traditional media like TV and print?

Yes, it was. Firstly, people cannot see the ad, so their faith in on-air ads was shaky. Also, they were very unsure of benefiting from these ads.


Did you face a manpower crunch initially, including radio jockeys from the region?

According to our company policy, we are keener on taking regional RJs, specially people from north Bengal. This is more to add a local flavour to our station. Our station believes that if we bring RJs from other cities, they would take time to adjust to the region and understand the local problems.

Apart from RJs, we faced a lot of problem in getting the right and qualified persons for different other sections of the radio station. The regional people are not well versed with the medium and qualified persons do not want to make their careers in such area. This problem persists and will stay till the area is developed enough.

How much do you have to pay out by way of music royalties?

40 per cent of our revenue goes towards the music royalties.

What is the strategy used by Radio Misty to position itself in the market?

We placed our station as local as possible. We promote local talents, local music and most of our highlights are addressed at the local problems and issues faced by the locals. We positioned our station as something that our listeners can easily connect to. Our first hoardings showed toy trains which emitted musical notes rather than the usual smoke and tea gardens where the workers pluck music notes from the tea plants. Our station, right from the start has been positioned to cater to masses on the whole.

What is the target audience for your station?

Radio is a very new concept here, no radio station is in a position to segment the market. Our target audience is aged between 10-80.

Was it a financially sound decision to start a radio station in a non metro city?

Yes, it was. We have fewer switchovers compared to the radio stations in metros. Being the first radio station in Siliguri was very beneficial for us as we did not have to compete for audiences, who were already hooked to a certain station. In the third phase, we are planning to come with eight or nine more stations in North East in North Bengal. If Misty had entered a metropolitan city, it would have definitely been lost in the crowd.