| 27 Jan 2023
'Inherent melody of retro music cuts across target groups': Rachna Kanwar

There’s no stopping the avalanche of retro flooding the airwaves, it would appear. Radio City’s digital wing – has upped the ante by adding seven retro stations at one go, three of which are south Indian languages, a first for the radio industry. This takes the bouquet of to 31 stations.

The new web radio stations include RC Hindi Classics, RC Kannada Gold, RC Tamil Gold, RC Telugu Gold, Lata Mangeshkar Radio, Kishore Kumar Radio and RD Burman Radio. An added arrow in its quiver is the acquisition of music rights to HMV Saregama’s collections, enabling listeners to tune in to classics from the 60s to the 80s.

Rachna Kanwar, who was elevated to Jagran Digital COO from EVP & Business Head, Digital Media & New Business this April, spoke to about the intent behind the move, the continuing interest in old songs and forthcoming initiatives.

The timing of the retro stations almost coincides with the launch of retro stations in Mumbai and Delhi. Did Radio City conduct its own research to ascertain the popularity of retro music?

Retro music is something that has always been in demand, be it for Hindi or for regional languages.  Yes, a lot of research went behind before deciding the launch of seven new web radio stations. We have also partnered with HMV Saregama,  and so had all the more reason to go retro. The seven new web radio stations  will be dedicated to retro music. Apart from the radio stations, listeners will also be able to enjoy hundreds of curated playlists and choose the retro songs they want to listen to.

Why is retro music suddenly the flavour of the season? Which is the demographic that is consuming more of retro music and why?

It is not sudden. One of our most popular shows, ‘Kal Bhi Aaj Bhi’ is testimony to the appeal of this evergreen genre. Old film music is something that people of all generations are listening to, be it the youth of today or the generation that grew up with these melodies. The inherent melody of this music makes it timeless and pretty much cuts across target groups, except perhaps teenagers. Icons such as Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar and RD Burman are not new to this generation. The new web radio stations will be under the bouquet Radio City Gold. It will give this generation a chance to listen to the melodies of the golden era. 

Planet Radio City appears to have picked up the decades from the 60s to the 80s. Why the choice of these three decades in particular? How many songs have been acquired totally? reaches out to an audience that is about 25 – 45 yrs old with Radio City Gold. We are cognizant of the fact that there is demand for music even prior to that period and after, and will be rolling out curated content even for them. 

What kind of marketing initiatives have been undertaken to promote the seven new stations? What kind of programming format will the stations follow? 

We are doing a 360 degree campaign to launch these stations. A print campaign across India, and a heavy digital campaign as well. Additionally we are using Radio City to promote retro music, to tease it and eventually drive listeners back to Radio City Gold on for unlimited access to retro music . The thought behind our campaign “Legends are reborn”  is to relaunch Retro music for the digital generation.

How does a digital platform like Planet Radio City view digital competition from Saavn, Guvera, Gaana and others? How would you view the impending arrival of Google Music in the country?

Gaana, Saavn and other music streaming apps are not competition to PRC. Their proposition is different. They are essentially music streaming websites while our expertise lies in Radio. We are India’s first and Only Online Radio Network. While Gaana, Saavn etc. remain music streaming platforms, PRC remains a content curator and has programmed content. The more music people consume online, the more it is going to help the entire fraternity. 

Why were the three south Indian languages chosen for retro regional music stations?

Regional music in Tamil, Telugu and Kannada have a very rich history and because these film industries have been there for several decades, they have a huge bank of  retro music. Tamilians, Kannadigas and  Andhraites are also present all over the world, and we saw a definite need gap for curated radio. Therefore these languages were our first choice. We will soon be launching Malayalam, Marathi and Gujarati stations too.

Were all the titles sourced from Saregama? Or were the south Indian titles sourced from elsewhere?

We have a mix of Saregama and a few other regional labels as well.

What kind of synergies do you expect between the parent Radio City and the newly launched digital stations? 

The synergies between Radio City and the digital stations are numerous. One of our longest running and most popular shows ‘Kal Bhi Aaj Bhi’ is a trendsetter and forms benchmarks for a retro show. We will be cross promoting the shows and also share a lot of content with each other. This month, Radio City is also playing one retro song every hour to expose more listeners to retro music and lead them back to Radio City Gold.