RadioandMusic
| 30 Nov 2021
Friends FM business head Amritendu Roy - Today we are known as a brand in itself

It's been a year and three months since Friends FM launched in Kolkata, and the station has stuck to its initial premise - of harping on the chord of nostalgia that the average Kolkatan treasures. RAM, that recently launched in the city, has affirmed Friends' belief - it has been adjudged the leader in the SEC AB, 20+, Male/Female TG consistently over the past several weeks. The station has now broadened it's base and plans to induce more trials for the station.

Friends FM business head Amritendu Roy, on a recent visit to Mumbai, spoke to Radioandmusic.com's Shabana Ali on the path Friends' has trodden and what lies ahead for the station.

Excerpts:

Why did Friends go for the 22-40 age group instead of the regular, advertiser friendly 18-35 TG?

When we entered the market, we already had four players in the Kolkata market. Aamar, Power, Radio Mirchi and Red FM were already catering to the masses. Our research on listenership patterns showed us that there is a large niche category of Bengali adults that was was desperate for a station catering specially to them. All the stations were following a current hit (CHR) format. Mirchi in Kolkata is totally Bollywood and so was Red, while Aamar is contemporary Bangla. The Bengali adults were being completely neglected. We wanted to give our audience quality over quantity. That's why we decided to target this particular TG with the kind of music they wanted.


Is that why there is so little contemporary music on your station?

We want to achieve the target we had set for the station. We chose to use the Adult contemporary format for young adults. According to our format, we maintain that the hit tunes of that era are loved by our audience even now. We try and create nostalgia for our audience to meet the format that we believe in. We play music only till 2004, and every year we extend the timeline by one more year in in our library.

We include contemporary music once a week in the show that has a countdown of the top thirty tracks, but it's not the part of our regular shows.


Is it difficult to acquire regional content in Bangla?

The Kolkata market is pretty organised in this context. There is a long history of songs and music, and it's been an organised industry for long. From 1980 to 1990, the Bengali music market did get disorganised, so we do face some difficulties to acquire licenses for music of that era. The rest of course, are a part of the saregama library, which is a part of the PPL. We often have other companies approaching us to play their content.

 

By sticking to the 'nostalgia' tag, do you miss out a large part of the audience and consquently, good advertising?

Yes, we are missing out on certain audiences, but from the advertising point of view, it does not make a difference to us. According to our study, we had seen that out of four million listeners, around 1.5 to two million listeners belong to the category of young adults. So, we are effectively servicing the audience we target.


How do you position your station in such a cluttered market, which has eight players now, not counting AIR?

We are very focussed on our programming. Our RJs, who are all above 25 years of age, have a youthfulness that the older audience can connect to. They do not speak in the peculiar lingo of the young. We design our programmes according to the mood of the day. Mood mapping is vital to our programming.


Don't you face competition from AIR in Kolkata, which also plays a lot of the older classics?

No, we do not face any such competition from AIR because they don't follow a specific format. They keep on experimenting with the programming, and seem to lack a focussed objective.


How has the introduction of TAM's Radio Audience Measurement helped the city?

RAM's presence in the market is helping us lot. It helps in programming and gives a brief perspective on what our audience wants and who our competitors are. It enables to judge whether we are on the right track. After all, we are a commercial station and our objective is to make money!

Because it provides weekly results, RAM is also useful to track particular activities we undertake, and it also helps our clients to look at the profitability of their investments.


Does being part of the Anand Bazar Patrika group help?

We always wanted to create a brand of our own. And after one year and three months, we are known as a brand in itself. ABP is a separate company altogether. We have a separate sales team. For our national sales, we have tied up with Radio City, while the local sales of Radio City in Kolkata are taken care by us. That's because we both cater to the same audience.

You had launched two albums under the Friends FM label. How many stations do that kind of branding and positioning for the radio station?

I don't know about the other stations, but in Kolkata no other radio station has come up with ideas like this. It was mainly done to gift our listeners. We wanted to give our listeners something that was created by the station rather than sponsored gifts. We never played the CDs on our station as it never complemented our format.

What are your future plans?

Right now, we are focussed on promoting our station. We introduce changes in our programming every six months, so possibly, there could be some changes in the offing soon.