| 01 Mar 2024
Tuning up - how radio stations are playing with their signature tunes

MUMBAI: All India Radio may have stuck to its distinctive signature tune for over half a century, but private FM stations in India obviously believe in shuffling the mix every once in a while.

The Radio City network went the whole hog and launched 20 city specific tunes this week, to identify with local culture, sights and sounds of each town it operates in. The ‘Rag Rag Mein Daude City’ campaign wants to redefine ‘local’ for India, says the network. Some other radio operators however believe in the ‘tried and tested’ formula and have stuck to the same tunes over the last eight years, and swear by their efficacy in brand recall. So a Mirchi sunanewaala is always khush, and you listen to Big FM knowing it will always be ‘Suno Sunao life banao’.

Regional players like the Mathrubhoomi group’s Kerala based Club FM too have stuck to their tune for the last eight years. Club FM (Kochi) programming head Priyaraj says, “Since past eight years, we have stuck to our signature tune ‘Mazhayathum Veyilathum’. It means, sunny day or rainy day, we are there for the listeners on any day. We stuck by this because this tune fetched us the New York Award, India Radio Forum Awards and many others. Club FM’s identity is its signature tune so we cannot think of changing it”.

But the Rajasthan Patrika backed Rajasthan headquartered Tadka FM believes in change being the only constant. Tadka FM (Jaipur) programming head Praveen Sharma says, “We launched our station in 2008 with the theme ‘Solid Radio’ that sounded a bit fussy in nature so we adapted another one ‘Sounds Good’. This sounded more convincing giving the listeners the direct idea of hard-hitting music. If you hear the same music repeatedly, boredom is what you receive. Similar is the case with signature tunes. Even occasional change with the tunes is necessary.”

In Orissa too, listeners have had many flavours of tunes from regional player Radio Choklate. Says Radio Choklate programming head, Sangram Mishra “In eight years, we have changed our signature tunes at least five or six times. We change our entire programming structure each year, just to ensure that listeners do not face monotony. But, it requires confidence to go ahead with the experiment.”

All the players agree that the signature tune reflects the USP of the station. Radio Misty vice president Dilip Dugar points out,“The USP of the signature tune lies in its local folk music and connect.” “The type of music played in any region belongs to the listeners of that particular area. Therefore, signature tunes should be like a story in a nutshell that brief about the programming of the radio station.”

Ramit Jain, who is the senior producer at Radio Mantra’s Jalandhar station, agrees. Jain thinks Mantra’s new signature tune with the tagline ‘Asli Punjabi Radio Station’ is more vocal in its action. “The USP of thematic tunes is all about how masses connect. Most of our content includes Punjabi music. If we go with that logic, ‘Asli Punjabi Radio Station’ is justified,” he says.

Then there are seasonal and regional variations as well. Tadka FM adds peacock sounds to its signature tune during the monsoon and for Navratri or Diwali, devotional music is annexed with the signature tunes to give the tune a festive air.

Smaller radio stations also utilise regional singers to sing their jingles. This gives a local flavour as well as a fair chance to the local talent. Perhaps this is the thinking behind Radio City’s local tunes, which has roped in singers like Sukhwinder Singh, Keerthi Sagathia and Karthik in different cities to bring out the local ethos - “Rag Rag Mein Mumbai City” symbolizes the passion a Mumbaikar feels for the Mumbai Indians, “Madhi Madhi lo Hyderabad City” brings out the pride a Hyderabadi feels for his Biryani just as “Rag Rag Ma Ahmedabad City” signifies the connect an Amdavadi has with his or her Garba-Raas.

HT Media’s newly launched Radio Nasha on the other hand, has roped in veterans like Bappi Lahiri to sing its ‘retro’ themed signature tune that weaves in several recognisable film melodies from the 70s to the 90s.

With a slew of new stations set to launch in the coming weeks, the signature tune will be an important tool for stations to build brand loyalty and increase recall. Last we heard, all the radio stations are busy tuning up for the exercise.