Radio Dhoom completed one year of its inception in August 09. Operating in Jharkhand, the station has made a mark for itself for its localized content.
Radio Dhoom CEO Sanjeev Singh in conversation with Radioandmusic.com's Harpreet Khokhar, talks about the need for local flavour in the station and the significance of localisation of content.
How has the journey been so far?
Initially, we organized the setup at Ranchi and with Jamshedpur following within a very short gap, things were difficult and hectic. Also, a lot of understanding and research goes in to sprinkle local flavour into the station which made it a daunting task initially. But after a year, things have now shaped up well and the entire team is enjoying the work. Our listenership base is also becoming strong.
What is the content of your shows? What do you do to add regional flavour?
We try to bring in the local flavour in the station which is also our USP. We give a lot of coverage to local events and interact with our listeners through various game shows. Apart from that, we undertake various social issues and air counseling shows on law, health, education or even local administrative issues where we bring in concerned authorities with whom the listeners can interact and talk about their problems. We have shows like â€?Dhoom Aur Aap' where distinguished guests from the field of politics, administration, local police authorities talk to people. We want to help people lead a tension-free life with a dash of entertainment thrown in.
In small towns like these there is no morning or evening drive time band. Hence, we try and play all sorts of music the entire day. Apart from Bollywood music, we also play local Bhojpuri, Nagpuri, Bengali and even Punjabi music to keep our listeners enthralled. At certain timeslots, we play ghazals as well. Around 30 per cent of the local flavour is also added by promos and fillers that we air. Similar to Radio Mirchi's comic character Sud, we have Chotu through which we bring in a comic element in between the shows. We also have a character called â€?Chacha' who passes on some information in a very intelligent fashion. We try and keep the local element alive through our promos and fillers as well, apart from music. Our content is in consonance with the demands of the indigenous people.
Do you find it difficult to scout talent in the area?
Finding talent in small towns does become a little difficult at times because of the sheer fact that they are not as much exposed to media. There is talent but it needs to be polished. We have tied up with a few institutes from where we take potential candidates as RJs. We then provide them with initial training in technical and software know-how, voice modulations and receving calls. Post this internal training, they are well equipped to handle the daily pressure of the job.
Who are your competitors in the region? How is your station different from other stations operating in the region?
Big FM, Radio Mantra, Radio Dhamaal and Red FM are the four other private players in the region. All of these national level players mostly play syndicated programs which are created in either Delhi or Mumbai. They also have a very few local RJs hence they lack the much needed local punch. We ultimately want to make our listener our content creator, hence packing the shows with local topical content becomes our priority. At the end of the day, Bollywood music that all the stations play is similar. We believe content differentiation can be achieved by flaunting local flavours. The percentage of local music that we play is what makes us stand apart from others
Your station has a talk show on the Mittal- Arcelor steel plant that is set-up in the region? Can you tell us about it?
We have undertaken a number of CSR activities to educate our listeners about various social issues. We have a show called â€?Saath Chalenge Sab' which airs every Sunday. It educates people about the benefits of the Mittal-Arcelor steel plant that is being set up in the region. We highlight the benefits as well as other developments that would take place with the establishment of the industry in the region if people give up their land to the government. We have just finished the 41st edition of the show and have received extremely good response
We have also tied up with NGOs who talk to the listeners on various issues that includes farming, remedies to illness, location of the nearest hospital and several other issues
How difficult is it to spread awareness about radio in that area?
Spreading radio awareness is not too much of an issue. People use to carry radio on their bicycles and work on their farms. Back in the days when radio was costly, it used to be a status symbol for the proud owner.
You are a part of the Hindi publishing daily Prabhat Khabar. So does that help you to get advertisements easily?
Even though the local market is limited, since we are a venture of Prabhat Khabar which is a very established brand, initially it was not very difficult for us to get advertisements. Though few of our competitors have an all India presence which makes it easier for them to grab the advertiser's attention, but locally we are strong.
With a competitor like Big FM how easily do you get advertisements since it is a bigger channel with 45 stations across the country?
For a station like Big which is spread all across the country they earn the leverage of pan India advertisements. But our networking is better in the region. It also depends upon the advertiser as to what is his target audience. If his product is for the core local audience his preference will be different than if the product has a wider mass-appeal.
Out of the total advertising in the region, how much percentage does radio earn?
Advertisements on radio earn close to Rs 1.5 to two million which is 5-10 per cent of the total revenue spent on advertisements in this region. Though it is not a large chunk, yet slowly it is increasing and we are hopeful of attracting more local advertisers
Whom have you acquired the license from to play the music?
We have acquired the license from PPL and even music label T-series. We pay close to Rs three million per station for the music we play. We pay 10 per cent of our revenues to PPL, 20-25 per cent for royalties and four per cent to the government
Do you face any transmission issues in the area?
Radio here is not fully digitalized which causes few problems sometimes. Apart from Ranchi and Jamshedpur, regions like Kodarma fall on the on the vertical line of transmission hence they catch the frequency easily. However, a few other regions which are closer find it difficult to tune into the frequency. The length of the antenna of Jamshedpur tower is smaller which poses a problem for the regions that are close by it
Jamshedpur is also only few hours away from Kolkata. While transmission towers in Kolkata have a capacity of 10kw, our towers have a capacity of 5kw due to which especially at night Jamshedpur catches frequency of Kolkata stations, which leads to intermixing of music. From five stations during the day, the town catches 12 frequencies at night. This diversifies their choice and we do lose some percentage of our audience
Is AIR listenership strong in this region?
AIR penetration is definitely very strong in the region since for a very long time there was no private player in the region. But while people tune it to it for news and information, they tune into a station like ours for entertainment. Also since AIR's frequency is 103, which comes close to our's - 104. Due to closer proximity of the frequencies the listeners get tuned into our station, and that proves beneficial for us
Does acquiring the local music become an issue?
We are perhaps one of the few stations that promotes local music and talent. We adapt the hit songs and tweak them with regional flavour like the Delhi 6 song â€?Genda Phool' which was given a regional twist and then played. The track turned out to be a big hit amongst our listeners. The local musicians are more than willing to let us play their music since it helps them also to promote their music.
What problems do you face operating in small towns?
As an operator in the small town we do have to face certain issues. In terms of revenue we fall behind big players like Big FM and Red FM who have a pan- India presence. They have bigger ad agencies that create the ads for them. Their national network gives them the impetus and they take away the major chunk. The rest is shared by local players like us. Also smaller stations like us fail to get bytes from Bollywood personalities, which become a big attraction for the listeners. We as small regional players fail to attract our listeners with Bollywood fanfare
Any expansion plans in phase three?
We would like to expand in the next phase but a lot depends upon the government policy. The government has to come clear on certain issues only then we can go ahead with the expansion plans.
Send in your comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org