| 30 Nov 2023
Uninterrupted music gains currency on radio


No irritating ads and no yakking jocks. Radio stations are increasingly opting for half hour long slots that play music back to back, doing away with any breaks at all.

The trend has now filtered to many stations through the country, which are reaping the advantages of a sticky listenership, coupled with the reveneus that the sponsored shows bring.

The back-to-back songs without a break trend began in phase one of FM radio in the country with Win 94.6, which aired uninterrupted songs on Sundays, sans jockeys. But in phase two, there are many who stake their claim to being the pioneer in the field.

Radio City has been airing a night slot, called `Chaar behtareen gaane, ek ke baad ek!" for a while now, but Big FM national programming head Manav Dhanda says his station is the first and only to run five songs in a row. "We started our `paanch ka punch` roughly four months ago and it has received an excellent response from our listeners. The other stations followed closely but till date, no station plays five songs back to back. They have either three or at the most four songs; not more!"

Mirchi has its Teen Patti, and Red FM has latched on to the idea as well, but each of its stations in various metros has a different monicker for the slot, depending on the local needs and attitudes of the listeners. Thus, you have Char Chippake in Mumbai, Fourplay in Delhi and Chakkar Chaar Ka in Kolkata, at the top of every hour. "There is a tactical advantage of running this at the top of the hour, starts the hour with a solid burst of our core offering - Music," says Vehrnon Ibrahim.

Line of Attack - Marketing or Programming?Says Radio One`s VP, Programming and Brand Vishnu Athreya, "This is not exactly a marketing strategy. Such activities help to keep the listeners hooked to the radio station. And giving the show a specific name just helps people connect better to our station and also recall it immediately. It is basically a very simple concept. We set musical targets based on the age groups. Music is pre-filtered for such concepts and often, audience based songs are picked up. With such a concept, we aim to target a mass audience." In its previous incarnation as Go 92.5, the afternoon play list was decided by youngsters/college students. "Since we no longer follow the format of an hour show, we make sure that our concepts reach the audience," he says.

Agrees Red FM`s programming head Vehrnon Ibrahim, "It is a part of our corporate strategy to effectively provide to our target audience what they want in terms of entertainment on radio. Our programming team makes the decision based on the understanding that listeners would like to hear non stop music, at least for some time."

Affirms Dhanda, "This by no means is a marketing strategy; it is the station strategy and an understanding of the city as to what it wants to listen. We take up songs which people want to listen to making sure we leave minimum opportunities for the listeners to switch away. By playing five songs back to back, we assure 25-30 definite minutes of the listener being glued to us."

All in the name of the listenerRadio City doesn`t tag its back to back their back to back song slot by a specific name, preferring to maintain `Yahan besure gaane nahin bajte" or "Jo aapke dil main hai, who yahan suniye."

Says Ibrahim, "As with all our decisions regarding music, we select only those songs which we know our listeners want to hear. This is based on multi level research including sales data, requests, airplay on radio and TV, while being also centered on our exclusive digital music testing system. We were one of the first to start with the now very popular format; CHR (contemporary Hits Radio), this format is very popular amongst the audiences as is evident by our growth in the past two and a half years and also the number of `differentiated` radio stations offering similar formats."

Adds Athreya, "Top teen ka teer at Three... these are the things we are looking at by playing songs back to back. The play list is decided depending on the time when it has to be played. Like we concentrate on more peppy and lively songs during the afternoon, since we target the college crowd then. Also, our masti fataafat funda i.e. nonstop beats for twenty minutes is a part of the same strategy." 360 degree benefitListenership apart, the strategy is also helping rope in advertisers looking for more than the traditional spot ad.

Comments Ibrahim, "It benefits the station by creating a space in the programming to communicate a message to the listener. This is a classic way of subtly making a point, i.e. we understand what listeners want - music. Obviously, they also want an affectionate and witty Jock and this comes later in the hour as does humour, cricket talk, Bollywood gossip, contests, interactivity, etc. but the listeners today still want it proved to them that we understand that music is the main reason they tune in."Adds Athreya, "Some of the direct ways such a slot benefits the station are: a) it gives the consumer what it wants; b) time slots can be sold to sponsors and c) it adds to the interactivity and listenership thus helping in networking better within our reach."