| 17 Jul 2024
Is the drama just beginning?

How long can a listener hear out �Kabhi kabhi Aditi', on any station he cares to flick to?

The infotainment capsules and snippets like Kamla Ka Hamla and Sud now seem to be morphing into another genre, yet untapped on Indian FM waves.
They may not make the MTV grade yet, but the audio medium now seems to want to engage the audience with more dialogue format content. Radio One recently introduced Phillum Fataafat, satirical short films aired thrice a week. Radio City Bengaluru took the cue and aired Chitranna, a ten minute hilarious radio movie for a special occasion last week. Not to be outdone, Radio Mirchi announced that the entire film Hari Puttar would be converted into an audio film for the benefit of the visually challenged.

Changing times?

In the early days of FM in the country, Radio City had begun airing modified episodes of Ekta Kapoor's Kyunki Saas bhi kabhi bahu thi, in the afternoon slot. The station also tried its hand at spoofs of popular movies during the late night slots. Back then, however, the initiatives didn't grab as many eardrums.
So, is the genre trying to make a comeback in a changed atmosphere now? Red FM national marketing head Anuj Singh believes, One minute spoofs and small plays are just a part of breaking the monotony of the radio station. Introducing this form of activity to engage the audience is not right for radio stations at this stage. The audience is looking forward for music, as that is what station have positioned themselves as....

Big FM VP programming Nirupam Sonu says, Bringing this kind of creativity in the Indian audio medium will take some time as docu dramas and radio films will need a good attention span of the audience. That is currently not possible, as it is still considered to be a medium for an audience on the move....

Even after losing their popularity in the 1950's, the BBC still broadcasts radio plays on the channels. Though it enjoys a good amount of popularity in the world Indian radio listeners are hardly exposed to the form of entertainment.

Radio professional Gilroy Ashley Tills says, The Indian audience has only experienced the music format and talk format. Our audience has to be trained to accept different formats. Currently, radio stations are more focused on getting audiences than giving quality content....

Fever's national programming head Vinay Manek said, Maybe we can expect more of such programming to become mainstream in the near future, but not now. All the spoofs and radio documentaries are worked in the radio station to toy around with everything related to music. At this time, neither the audience and nor the radio station are in a position to welcome such a format....

Indian listeners are very clear about that fact that radio for them is music. Music remains the primary driver for any listener to tune into radio and this is not about to change anytime soon. It is largely music that draws a listener to an FM station,... says Radio City Executive VP and National Head - Programming and Marketing Rana Barua.

Is the experimentation worth the effort?

Sonu believes that the market does have an appreciative audience for such programming and a station can create its own niche amongst listeners. "The initial focus of the radio medium is to introduce and bring the audience closer to the medium and that is done by giving local content in form of entertainment. Gradually, the audience will also accept serious elements in the medium,... he says.

Manek agrees. The industry is still busy trying to grab audience loyalty, he avers."It's not just about audience demand and the stations' take on giving what the audience what they want. The medium also needs a good creative team to bring such a format in existence by giving a good content to the audience. This will strengthen the concept in a better manner....

Has it worked?

We have received very good response from our audience on our new show. The show is meant to be a break from the monotonous songs in the station. It's just a new entertainment to communicate with our audience and give them something more beyond music and RJ talks. We plan to take such concepts ahead as long as we get good response,... says Radio One RJ Malini about the fatafat films, that spoof popular Hindi film villains and film stars's voices in original and not so original scripts.

Rana Barua says, I'm certain it can work. It also depends on the treatment and packaging of the concept. If the element of music is integrated in a manner that is not contrived, it would work even better. Further regulations, especially by way of multiple licensing in a single city opening up, would pave the way for further experimentation allowing radio stations to truly offer a variety of music and non-music formats with a varying balance of both components....