| 09 Dec 2023
B.A.G. Films managing director Anurradha Prasad - Aspiration is what we have to sell

Radio Dhamaal is the newest kid on the FM radio block in India. And, like any latter sibling, it stands to face a lot of comparisons with the older offspring, and needs to prove its mettle to hold its own in a field cluttered by the elder brothers. But Dhamaal, brainchild of the Anurradha Prasad led B.A.G. Infotainment, is ready to take on the veterans in the fray. Having launched scarcely a week ago in Hissar and Karnal, Prasad sounds upbeat about the initial response to the stations. In a chat with, the ebullient managing director of B.A.G. Films outlines her radio plans for the months ahead.


How has the initial response been to Dhamaal in Hissar and Karnal?

It's been good. Although two stations, run by Mantra and Big are already running in
these cities, these are small places which, unlike Delhi and Mumbai, are relatively new
to FM. It's our attempt to build a radio culture here and building awareness is a part
of that. We have gone all out with outdoor and print to deliver our message. A month and a half down the line, after the stations settle down, we may change our marketing and programming strategy a bit. And although these may be smaller cities by comparison, each holds a big place in our kitty.

What's up next?

Our launches are going to be fast paced. Within 10 to 15 days of each launch, we plan to launch in the next city. Up ahead for us are Patiala, then Muzaffarpur and then Ranchi.

You managed to get licenses for the smaller cities. Will radio ventures in such cities be a viable proposition?

Of course. I believe that in the near future, it's all going to happen in the B cities,
where the value chain of money is being created. These are the cities that have huge
untapped money power, and to our advantage, are far less cluttered than the metros,
althugh the spending options here are huge. Which is why, aspiration is what we sell to
our listeners.

How different a programming mix can you offer from that proffered by the existing stations?

The staple, of course, is Hindi music. We will be playing all kinds of hits, from the
old to the new. We are trying to bring in the local flavour in each by having shows in
the local dialects for an hour or so every day. We have a lot of phone-in shows that
will encourage interactivity. That's the best part of radio - we will be able to
re-invent ourselves as we go along, going by the feedback we get from listeners.
We have also started non music programming, including shows for women that focus on
health and food. Also, there are some shows planned for the younger set, as both these cities are known for their educational institutions.

How much of invesment has gone into your radio venture so far?

We have invested Rs 500 million (Rs 50 crore) in this business. Apart from the major investment that has gone into the infrastructure and the music rights, we have invested majorly in manpower. Our radio jockeys were being trained in house for a year. We created a common talent pool and trained them according to the needs of the city in which they would be located. Of course, it helps to have a media institute from where this pool can be cultivated!We expect to break even in two or three years.

Apart from the talent pool created in your institute, you have recruited talent from elsewhere...

Oh yes. CF Moses has been appointed as national president for sales and marketing, and Radio City's Amit Tripathi has also recently joined us. Even on the programming side, we have a mixed bunch of talented people, who have joined in from Red FM and Radio City, and other places.

Apart from offloading a part of the stake domestically, are you also looking at a
foreign investor?

Yes. We have offloaded 10 per cent stake to IDBI, as they were the only ones who met our criteria. After we launch all the stations, we are definitely going to get a foreign investor on board.

It was being spoken that your revenue strategy might involve setting up a consortium of the smaller radio operators to boost airtime sales?

We did think of it, but many of the smaller players are yet to enter, and it was
delaying our plans. So, we have pushed ahead on our own as of now. But we are open to such ideas in the future.

FM radio is beginning to clutter the smaller cities too. Even in Hissar and Karnal,
there are two players already. Do you think there's place for more players?

Well, there's definitely space for three!