| 18 Jul 2024
20-TEN Year-ender: Nishant Mittal, Chief Executive Officer - Radio Misty

* 2010: There was innovation, but mostly across smaller cities

FM Radio in India is a medium basically dedicated to music. The talk radio format has not been tried out here, to the biggest challenge is to create innovative programming using music as the base. So far, FM Radio in India has been coming along with little innovation and as per the same set format. When you tune in to FM stations in the big cities, all of them sound the same – the same kind of music playing, and RJs speaking in much the same format. But in the small towns, Radio stations have been more active on innovations in Music and Content.


Radio Misty has stations at Siliguri in West Bengal and Gangtok in Sikkim. We have tried to be an innovative station with a local tough. The team at Radio Misty a young one – with an average age of 27 years. We innovated with playing music and shows in five languages -- Hindi, Bengali, Bhojpuri, English and Nepali. This innovation from our Siliguri station   has been well received by listeners, and Radio Misty Siliguri is perhaps the only fm station in country to have done this.

Similarly, Radio Misty Sikkim is the only station in the state which airs 24 hours a day, whereas other fm stations shut down at night. This has proved to be an added advantage for us.

This year we began the listeners' survey for music- and show content. Every quarter, we invited listeners to send their suggestions, which, after discussion, were incorporated into the programming content. This connects with listener generated tremendous response and helped us make our content as local as it could get.

And speaking of connects, a truly memorable incident of 2010 was when a patient needed a rare blood group. We aired an SOS appeal for him, and with a very short span of time, about 48 listeners went to the hospital to donate blood. This incident helped us help the patient, and also proved a strong trait of Radio in 2010 – that it has been developing an ever stronger mass connects over the years. Another moving moment was when a group of blind listeners came to our station with flowers and gifts to wish us on our anniversary. That was a touching moment, especially when they said our station was their true friend...; it inspired us to move forward.

We did several innovations during the year. Our Siliguri station started hosting a live show till 1 am late night, and this became the most popular show; we received a total of 38168 letters and cards during 2010, which must be a record of sorts for a radio station. Besides this,  we receive thousands of gifts, mails and SMS-es each month. The letters have helped us to make our stations better.

While Bollywood music is a mainstay with us, we have always tried to also focus on local music and bands, and have promoted every band launch  We have begun ghazal shows in our network and have tried to experiment with every genre of music.
Radio stations in India should come out of set formats and start to think about the talk- and other serious formats. Most big networks play pre-recorded shows with a metro touch, and this will not help the radio industry. The more local a touch you give to your content, the stronger will be the emotional connect   listeners will have with your station. This will give wide reach and help people understand radio better.

Looking forward, 2011 should be a good year for innovations in Radio. Phase 3 will add more FM stations and that too in small towns. If news- and current affairs programmes are allowed on Private FM Radio, it will give a big boost to radio content. News will help private FM radio grow fast and will help it enhance both, listener bases and revenues. In our varied, vibrant and vivid country, news will help people connect. Once news makes its appearance on radio, the medium will become a force to reckon with on the Indian media scene. Once it starts highlighting local issues and concerns, Radio will truly become a people's medium.


In 2010 too, all radio stations depended a great deal on their marketing activities to generate buzz and local awareness. Our Siliguri and Gangtok stations too had a host of on-air and on -ground activities throughout 2010  In fact, we did a total 310 ground activities in Siliguri and Gangtok. This is a big achievement for us.

Some of these activities include, from the first quarter of the year, the two diverse initiatives we held. These were across two different genres of programming. Our Sikkim station hosted an on-ground and on-air activity, war of the bands...  Band culture is very popular in Sikkim. We also began a ghazal show with an innovative show format that enable the maximum numbers of listeners get on air with their views and favorites. It truly helped us cement our local connect  At our Siliguri and Gangtok stations, we ran activities where people could get on air on different issues through our OB van.
In the second quarter of 2010, we hosted the BBC Ek Mulaqat Live at Siliguri, where Dr Kiran Bedi interacted with our listeners live  And in the last quarter, Radio Misty Siliguri teamed up with Musical Night which had top Bollywood singers performing live.

We have been doing lot of innovative activities for our advertisers on-air and on-ground. This year we had telecom and FMCG majors on board, for whom we did a lot of activities. Our most memorable activity was with an automobile group for which we visited all apartments of the city for a day-long activity involving residents of the apartment complex. This activity was promoted by direct mailers and one-to-one contact.

West Bengal is known for its para (locality) culture. Radio Misty, along with a telecom major, organized Para Utsav, where an entire locality was involved  Celebrity RJs hosted shows in 20 localities. The Grand Finale saw thousands of people participate. Besides, outdoor and ambient media was deployed, including bus back panels and hoardings, along with branding on auto rickshaws, in malls and in popular hangouts.

The Radio Misty brand teams are very innovative and I am proud to say that these teams have given their best to advertisers. We have partnered major telecom and FMCG companies for mega launches of their products in innovative ways. We launched a telecom product with a simple and innovative method which attracted local people. We launched this product in a baby trolly where this product was kept. Chocolates and sweets were distributed to announce the launch. A   dhak (drum) party was also engaged to promote this launch. This new activity in Siliguri was welcomed by people as sweet change.


Radio Misty stations at Siliguri and Gangtok are doing very well in terms of revenue. Major national and local brands are active in our stations. Telecom, Real Estate, Steel, Tourism and FMCG brands were major advertisers. We promoted major launches that integrated Radio in innovative ways for the respective products.

We also helped launch Bengali movies with a great deal of buzz  Besides this, on-air and on-ground activities were tailor-made for local advertisers also. Local advertisers are very active on Radio Misty and this has boosted our national sales as well.

Radio Misty is local station with local talents and local touch .This local connect has given us our success. We always believe in training local talents for our station. As Phase 3 is coming up, there will be more and more employment opportunities created in the radio industry, which will help local talent.

This year, a critical thing the entire private FM Radio Industry needs to do is unite to fulfill the wish list of the FM radio industry. Everyone has a long wish list, but in my view, if we can achieve only two important things, Radio can truly boom. These are:

1.The first big wish for the industry is resolution of the issue of music royalties. Small stations are facing the heat of higher music royalties. Music royalty is eating up the entire revenue pie, making radio a very unviable medium.

2.The production and programming of independent news bulletins must be allowed on private FM stations. News will help FM radio grow faster by enhancing listener bases and revenues.
Not impossible, and can be achieved. But only if we work with unity.