| 19 Apr 2024
I think only thing that's required of radio is to make itself very relevant: Red FM COO and Director Nisha Narayanan

MUMBAI: Third edition of The Radio Festival which was held on February 13, 2020, did witness many biggies from the radio industry who shared their opinions and what the future holds for the medium. Amongst them was Nisha Narayana, COO, and Director of Red FM who too spoke her heart out on where the medium stands today and what measures we need to take going further.

Check the interview below.

What is the future of the radio?

I think it’s become very fashionable to say that in the whole rise of digital medium, conventional mediums like radio, television and print etc., are not really working. To be very honest, I think the only thing that’s is required of radio is to make itself very relevant. As long as content is relevant it does not matter what platform you are on. It’s no more radio, I think it’s all about the audio and that is the space we are getting into. I keep saying that the fight is not against the competition.  So it’s not about Red FM vs Big FM vs Mirchi and Radio City. It’s against the technology. So if you are fighting against the technology you cannot do much. Therefore the only thing you can do to make it relevant is to create the content that is relevant.

Is the survival of radio in danger?

Radio has survived more than 90 years in this country. It will survive more. The pie is small, I agree, and it is largely small because there is no measurement system today. While digital, television and print provide a measurement system, radio is the only industry, which is over Rs 3000 crores today, which has survived purely without any measurement system right. Radio has always been about shaking hands and kissing babies forever. Radio is all about being very local. Now the only thing which is required is to also capture the same thing on the audio format as well as radio format and post it. So I do not think we are moving away from the radio. So today when you have Malishka, you have Raunak, you have Bahua the idea is for the listener is to see how Bahua looks, Malishka looks and Raunak looks and how they talk. I think that’s very important and that’s the only thing that radio should provide in addition to content.

What was the need for private radio channels to start their own podcast?

I don’t think radio is only about the music anymore. The song which is available on radio, is also available on different platforms for the consumers to choose from. Why we are entering into podcast is because that is being seen as more relevant. So today if I am catering to a young audience, they are consuming the content on multiple platforms. So podcast is one of those platforms and we as radio stations should not be ignoring audio platforms like podcast. We have good base on podcast and people are already listening to us. So the challenge is to get them to listen to both –digital and air waves. While in radio comparatively the content is a little less in terms of speaking time, podcast allows you long format so we can take different topics and the talk can be in different format etc. so there are advantage of that.

Where do regional languages stand in comparison to Hindi & English?

The growth is clearly in regional content and I think the power of regional is something that we need to understand and we need to recognize especially, a brands  FMs like Mirchi, City, etc all the other radio brands who are FM in nature can contribute to local content and that the strength that we have. I think we should not ignore regional content as it is very critical. What’s also happening in terms of consumption is that it is also changing to more community led and more focused content so the moment you start the regional content in, which we have been doing of late for last couple of years, we are getting an excellent response. I think that the momentum has to continue, you will find lot of regional diaspora in market like Mumbai, Delhi as well and bigger metros and need to embrace all of that.

Q.5 How do private channels look at tier 2 and tier 3 cities as a market?

A.5. To be very honest that is where the growth comes from. Tier 2 and tier 3 towns are actually where the listenership is growing, the feedback is growing, we do lot more staff there in terms of activation, on ground concerts, events, digital content that is produced, regional content that’s produced. That is the power of this medium. Also I think these are the towns that actually make a song a big hit and I am really happy to here, take up challenges between an OTT platform and radio channel. Give me one song exclusively and give an OTT platform one song exclusively and let’s see who makes it a hit. I am sure radio can make it a hit. In the sense it’s not about the number of likes that a song may have, it’s about the power of recognizing the song when you go as an artist to perform. And that’s the true power or test of a popular hit or a popular song.

Red FM has recently launched Red Indies, an initiative to promote independent artists. Why was a need felt for this?

Being relevant to me a large degree to embrace what’s happening within the ecosystem. Independent music is a growing category in the music industry that’s point number one and point number two is radio always blamed to not playing indie music and regional music right. It’s being blamed for playing only Bollywood music and supporting only Bollywood music etc. but today lots of Bollywood stars as well singers are also singing independent music one and two lots of upcoming artists from different parts of the country are creating excellent music. So we thought because especially we truly believe in radio for social change and I think it’s a very powerful medium specially the social change and we do want to embrace what is changing within the ecosystem and hence embracing independent music and independent artist etc and giving the people of choice of discovery which is beautiful in the radio and it can be done very effectively on radio.

What has been the response to RED INDIES so far?

Excellent, we know initially we thought we should probably take it during the weekends but last in three months the kind of response we got across the country has been so good so we love to take it across the …part and also in a week so let’s see I am sure lot of plans we just launched three shows- Indie hain hum, Ricky Singh viral countdown show and there Red Indies debut and there is more in the pipeline. I think supporting young talent supporting artists, supporting regional content, regional music I think is the need of the hour and that’s what I think radio can do beautifully. And I think we just do that.