| 18 Jun 2024
Radio Indigo COO Jayyant Bhokare - I hope to see retail advertising growing faster because it benefits more

In a market that preferred to turn Kannada en masse early in 2008, Radio Indigo stands out as a player that preferred to play the game by its own rules.

Jayyant Bhokare, who took over as the Chief Operating Officer of Radio Indigo 91.9 FM, a Jupiter Capital Venture in mid 2008, brought in over 14 years of cross-functional experience in Media Sales and Management, Business Development across Print, Television, Radio, Digital and Outdoor to the station he now calls home.

Bhokare, who was previously responsible for creating and sustaining various businesses ranging from Reliance Entertainment Adlabs films Ltd. (Radio Initiative) as Vice President-Business Development and Vice President –Business Development (News Outdoor), Star TV, Bhokare is a veteran at the game, having been at the battle frontlines when FM made its tentative entry via Radio City in Bangalore nearly a decade ago. In a chat with, Bhokare outlines the Indigo vision.

Excerpts -

Radio Indigo has been operating in the most cluttered of markets (12 at last count in Bangalore). How has it managed to stay true to its original proposition of international music for over two years now and still command a loyal audience?

Bangalore has a large audience that appreciates the kind of music that we play. It's refreshing, because we are the only station here that plays differentiated music, unlike others who have already gone regional. Not just in terms of the content - it's also more easy, more fun, more engaging. From that perspective, we have a very loyal audience base. However, it also puts under pressure of scrutiny all the time, because people are liable to question us if we change anything.

Does this strategy work because you are operating in a place like Bangalore, where differentiated music would be appreciated?

I think such a content mix would work in any large city, or a metro. In every city, there will be 15 to 20 per cent of the population who would like to listen to this kind of music. As radio grows, there will be further segmentation according to mood mapping, depending on the audience being targeted. That's how the need gaps can be met.

But then do you end up catering to a small niche market?

Niche versus mass has always been a debate. I personally feel it's very important to address what is profitable as a business  But having said that, looking at the current products and services that are available throughout the nation, particularly targeting the section that has the disposable income, those audiences are key for any programming mix. I am not talking about rich or poor here, but those with disposable incomes for the products that are out there. That's the mix that should reflect in the programming. With this kind of programming, we surely cannot go wrong on those audiences if targeted well.

Does Indigo's Goa station have a similar TG?

We have a similar mix of music but Goa is slightly different in its pace, because it's a holiday destination and an international tourist destination. We have a lot of international tourists who tune in to our station. Also, there's a huge chunk of local population that has grown with this music, this essentially gives us a mix of contemporary and a bit of retro, a very good blend of music which targets optimal numbers.

How badly does the issue of music royalties plague Indigo, since hardly any Bollywood music is played on the station. Is it in fact a boon , and a cost saving measure....that while other stations are bemoaning high royaltiies, Indigo is free of the menace?

We haven't been spared either, despite the fact that we play English music. Royalties are indeed a dominant part of our outflow, but we are in negotiations with the PPL and IPRS and should soon settle for an amount that benefits both of us. We are able to take a slightly more global perspective since we sometimes deal directly with overseas labels which conduct similar royalty collection exercises in other countries as well.

How has RAM helped in the last one year? Has it helped define listenership, map listening habits....?

RAM has been a good, small step in the right direction. It has grown its base and is expanding into giving us more qualitative data than just giving numbers on cumes and time spent listening. From our perspective, that's more important than just numbers. Judgement calls made by buyers and advertisers that are made on the basis of such numbers are more informed.

What is the advertiser profile on Indigo currently?

Primarily, radio advertising is bifurcated into retail and corporate. I think the large networks in the country are forgetting that we are not getting fairly local in content, except for the music. That is where radio actually can do wonders. Retail is a very key constituent of any radio station locally, and today's retail is evolving. It just isn't what it was five years ago. Though malls and mega stores may be corporate in nature, with big corporations running them, tactical promotions happen locally. Those are retail. Also, the old stores and establishments that used to exist, and are known for their products and services are also largely, part of retail. Corporate on the other hand, has multiple needs in multiple cities, - it could be a brand campaign or a tactical campaign, it could be anything. Indigo has a fairly decent mix of both, with corporate currently being a little higher at around 60 or 65 per cent of the total. I would rather see retail growing faster because retail actually benefits more in terms of direct promotions and footfall creation.

Indigo seems to be moving beyond music in a certain way....getting into CSR initiatives, events with a brand identity of its own. Is it a conscious brand development exercise?

Internationally, radio stations are not cotent with just local broadcast. Events and activations are a large part of the expanded format, and something called non traditional revenues exist, which contribute almost 50 per cent of the total revenue of a station, at times. Indigo has taken a lead in that direction by associating with various events, monetising them and undertaking branding exercises - it helps from a revenue standpoint and from a brand's standpoint as well. Client and brand activations apart, on the CSR front, there are several challenges we all face as citizens. We have taken the lead in some initiatives like currently, we have the Indigo Goes Green campaign. It's not about contests and give aways, it's a continuous process. We revamped our programming from 19 September when we turned two, and since October, the Green campaign has been active. Every month, we pick up a topic which helps us go green. The first month it was - don't use paper mugs, use ceramic mugs instead. We distributed ceramic mugs with people's names on them. During Diwali, we asked people to form cracker pools to cut down on pollution. Currently, we are promoting cycling to work as part of the same campaign, getting listeners to share their experiences on air, we were also part of the Tour The Nilgiris, and we also plan to get celebrities to cycle to their work places.

What the plans for the year ahead, now that the Bangalore station has turned two, and the Goa station is over a year old?

We are now looking at creating programming which is not typical, we are looking at doing pre-produced features, talk based shows where we will have celebrities coming to host shows on air. There are some other innovations too that have been planned for both stations.

How important is out of home listening for Indigo? How can you exploit this listenership more?

Mobile phone listenership has anyway grown. Out of home listening has been on the growth path, predominantly where people have to spend a lot of time in their cars, particularly in cities like Bangalore where travel time between any two places has gone up by an hour!  Malls too have radios now, and we also work closely with malls to provide them with content. Several restaurants too are playing Indigo now, so for us, out of home listening is definitely high and growing. We have found that many high end spas and salons are also tuned in  to our station, and they actually write in to us with their feedback.

Is there enough talent in the market for the radio sector?

There is definitely a talent crunch in the radio space. But fortunately for Indigo, we have a bunch of creative people here who are musicians themselves, have knowledge of music and have been around in the industry for a while. Also, luckily for us, attrition is a word unknown in our dictionary.