| 27 Mar 2023
Harrish M Bhatia: 'We hope to take MY FM National'

In Part-2 of our chat with HARRISH M BHATIA, CEO – MY FM,  for the Leadership series, Bhatia speaks  more specifically about his network -- its plans, the kind of advertising it gets and targets, key sales  and content initiatives, his desire to take MY FM national in Phase III, and the need for advertisers to give far more weightage to local  market strength  than network presence while buying Radio. Bhatia also speaks of other industry matters including his hope that AROI appoints an Ombudsman or Independent Agency to evaluate campaigns and educate â€?conventional' clients to help convert them to using Radio.

Excerpts from a conversation with Pavan R Chawla, Director Content & CSO – Group and Editor

Going ahead, what are the opportunities you see for MY FM, and why?

I believe the sky is the limit for MY FM. But just to point out the most important areas we are focusing on are: One, we're eagerly awaiting the Phase III announcement and plan to take MY FM to the national level. Two: we want to strengthen our existing markets by further penetrating them, and three: going ahead, we want to be seen as an organization which not only entertains its listeners but also bonds emotionally with them.

And what are the threats MY FM is facing in the market?


List the biggest categories advertising on FM.

The biggest categories of Retail market advertising on FM are Education, Real Estate, Lifestyle & FMCG and Communications.

And the ones you want to see more of on MY FM? 

The categories which we wish to bring on board are IT, Mobile Handset Manufacturers, Automobile Sector and Consumer Durables. We have a separate team all across India which focuses only on such clients; these are the clients who advertise on other mediums but not on Radio. These teams are working relentlessly to bring them on board.

RAM AdEx indicates that around 60% of those who advertise on print in the smaller markets do not use any other medium at all. How do you target such advertisers? There must be a conflict of Group interests here, as Bhaskar is very strong in print too. How do you work around that?

It is very well known that Radio as a medium has the ability to spawn and augment the reach of any campaign. Hence, when a client spends money for a print ad campaign, he also reserves some of it for Radio. There is no conflict in the group, as otherwise it would not have ventured into Radio in the first place. Also, if MY FM does not avail of this opportunity, then these funds automatically go to some other radio station, so why not grab this chance and keep the funds within the group? In addition to this, the group is able to offer a true 360-degree media solution to its clients with Radio, Print, Online and On-Ground activations altogether.

We are simply working on expanding the advertising pie and grow together with Print. See, Radio is anyways a local medium. A large share of advertising is done by retailers and other local advertisers. We have the largest retail market share all across our markets. They patronize us month after month. These retailers are those who have not received funds from any corporate houses and hence will not want to stand by us unless and until they get the desired results  So, we owe our success to our exceptional delivery to the clients and hence get their trust 

Please share case studies of advertising solutions you may have offered to such advertisers, with the results achieved.

There are several. For instance, our DIMAT -Rocket Singh Salesman of the year... was perhaps the first ever Reality show on Radio where major corporates were covered to find out the Salesman of the Year. We won a silver at the e4m awards held in Mumbai for this.

Then there was MP Tourism's campaign Hindustan Ka Dil Dekho, which we promoted, wherein the RJ profiled the beauty of all the major historical monuments across Madhya Pradesh with live coverage of the same, encouraging people to visit the state and enjoy its historical richness.

We also took the Airtel – Fresh Face of Punjab talent hunt across 83 colleges in six leading cities of Punjab. The objective of the event was to identify the fresh face that will encompass the values needed to carry out the title with grace. The hunt was an attempt to give a platform to aspiring young talents. After a thorough search which engaged close to 1,60,000 students, MY FM scrolled down to the rightful winners in a systematic and fair way.

There was the Spice –Campus Mantra 2010 campaign too. This is the third year in a row that we are doing this activity wherein we celebrate the spirit of  Youth and  bring each youngster to a common platform where there is high interactivity and engagement amongst students and the whole campus witnesses a day full of masti and dhamaal with team MY FM. â€?No Ragging This Time' is the MY FM ka Mantra, and the objective is to create a healthy interaction among young freshers and senior students of the campus. This activity covered more than 20 colleges and touched some 35,000 students in a mere 25 days.

Dabur Chyawanprash - Immune India was a school contact programme MY FM initiated to increase sales of Dabur Chyawanprash. Under this programme, MY FM played promos in Dhoni's voiceover urging people to stay fit by eating Chyawanprash every day. With every pack students were given a form which they needed to fill and hand over to the MY FM team that was visiting their school for further awareness about the benefits of eating Chyawanprash.

How do advertisers use MY FM on the strategic : tactical comparison?

In India tactical advertising over Radio is regular,  while strategic has just started  and is in its developing stage. Still, we have done quite a lot of strategic advertising,  for instance, the launch of Tata DOCOMO – Do The new, wherein the RJs of all stations gathered in the MY FM studio and recorded a common link which was then aired at all the channels on the same day at the same time,  so anybody who tuned into any station could listen to the same link.

MY FM partnered Whirlpool CSR in our markets, promoting the Whirlpool Ek Jodi Kapda  campaign by moving about in the city and collecting clothes from high footfall places like Malls, Residential Welfare Associations, Schools, Colleges etc. We collected clothes from around 80 locations from more than 6,000 people all across Rajasthan and Punjab. These clothes were finally distributed amongst needy people.

We also partnered Aircel in the It's Time To Move On campaign, as its launch partner in Madhya Pradesh, and did an activity to promote their brand communication: It's Time To Move On, wherein we not only changed the stationality and top of the hour sparklers like Current Ali and Irfaan CD Center (which carried the fabric of It's Time To Move On), but also set up Live studios in an Aircel store where the RJ's were on a roll throughout the day.

The biggest challenge today is content differentiation, given that radio content teams have to do without bring able to incorporate news into their programming. Tell us about three recent content innovations in the last quarter that you are particularly pleased with, at MY FM.

I totally agree that today, the biggest challenge is content differentiation  In spite of this, MY FM has the maximum number of exclusive shows to cater to the needs of each listener segment, e.g. dedicated regional music show (Swar Gurjari, Dhol Wajda), kids show (Chota RJ), Sanjay Jumani's show on Numerology, a show on Vastushastra etcetera.

But of course, we keep doing various innovations in terms of content, music etc. Some such innovations on MY FM have been:

1-The launch of Ramayan to further enhance our connect with listeners -- especially the youth. The first episode was aired on October 11, 2010

2-For the first time, Nukkad Natak �Papad Wali Dadi' on MY FM was a tribute on Radio to the victims of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy, wherein famous street play artists narrated the whole tragedy with a positive intent and urged the listeners to move on and jiyo dil se.

3-We did a show named Apna Rajya Apni Bhasha in Chattisgarh on its Foundation Day in which the RJs communicated in the Chattisgarhi language with all the listeners and played contests on the state history.

4-We did a show called My Mayor My Sheher in our morning time band. This was a live show where in we helped our listeners speak with the Mayor and share issues related to specific localities. We also solved these issues on the show itself and also requested the Mayor to directly address the city.

5-We celebrated November as the Passion Month wherein we recognized and profiled passionate people of a particular city. The whole event was named My City My Passion. This was in line to one of our Brand Value which is Passion. Each day passionate people were taken live on air to discuss their journey and become an inspiration for others to follow 

So it's a constant process of innovating on content and engaging our listeners across all our markets.

Suggest three things you feel the Radio Industry should do to better itself overall.

The three major areas which I think should be considered on a priority basis are:

1-It should work together to resolve the royalty issue and also push the Government for Phase III roll-out.

2-As mentioned earlier, the introduction of a common currency of Radio measurement.

3-I feel AROI must hire an Ombudsman / Independent Agency to carry out researches on various campaigns and activities to educate the conventional clients to bring them on board.

How will you approach Phase 3 – which cities are on your wish list and why?

We are decently ambitious towards it, and as I said earlier, we wish to take MY FM national. However, it's too early to comment on anything as of now, in the absence of any final announcement on the subject from the Government.

Where do you aim, plan and hope to see MY FM  reach under your leadership in the next three years?

I would like to focus on three major points, which are:

1-To work towards making MY FM a national Brand.

2-Though we share a great connect with the cities where we are present, I would like to further strengthen this by increasing the penetration in these markets and expanding our listener base.

3-Last and the most important, creating more and more shareholders, customers and employee value.

Anything else you wish to tell the industry through

Do not buy Radio because of its network;  rather,  buy it because of its strength in the respective retail markets of its network.