| 20 Jul 2024
Changing perceptions, building awareness - Anuj Singh

The year began with a wave of optimism about radio's performance and expected growth. A FICCI - PWC report talked about a growth rate of 40 per cent and an expected industry size of Rs 672 crore by the end of the year. Radio CEOs expressed their optimism on opening up of content, relaxation in government policy, growth of radio's share in the ad pie, etc. There was talk of the need to �evangelize' the medium, change perceptions, work towards effective differentiation, etc. These were recognized as the challenges for the year to come and resolutions were made to tackle them.

As we stand at the beginning of a new year, it's with mixed feelings that we view the year gone by. While radio had its share of highs, there were also an equal number of lows…

While 2007 was characterized by the spurt of radio stations across the country, 2008 saw radio brands consolidating their positions in various markets. From an �ambient' media, radio was fast evolving as a preferred media. With the bank of songs remaining more or less similar with little or no perceivable difference between the songs of one station and the next, things like station attitude, RJ personality and content emerged as differentiators. Listeners were increasingly making informed decisions about the stations they like and don't like and the branding and marketing efforts of various players saw the establishment of recognizable and differentiated brands.

Innovations such as on-air and marketing innovations helped players establish Radio as a source of some serious entertainment content! Some of the �innovations' attempted by TV such as reality shows, singing competitions, talent hunts, attempts at breaking records, etc. were formats that were ingrained in everyday radio programming! Radio emerged as the destination for the entertainment needs of the masses and that was not all. Radio content was now also extended to other more established media. An example from my organization, was our association with �Bindass Live powered by Red FM' on Bindass TV, a show which was not only hosted by Red FM's RJ Malishka but which also reflected through its content and programming Red FM bold and brazen attitude.

Some of the doubts about the measurement methodology were put to rest with almost all major players accepting RAM as a means of rich and useful data and for the greater benefit that the industry could reap with the establishment of a common currency of measurement. The results were for all to see. An indicator of the resulting confidence was the rate hikes initiated by various leading players in line with the market scenario and their proven track record.

As a medium, radio was making a lot of progress in terms of changing perceptions and building awareness. With a CPT of around Rs 331 as compared to the CPT of Print which stands at Rs 1176, radio was fast emerging as the local advertiser's preferred medium of communication. Users of radio stood by the innovation, flexibility and cost effectiveness offered by radio. Individual efforts by players and efforts by industry bodies like AROI further strengthened Radio's case and helped in the process of evangelizing the medium.

2008 was also a year of progressive reforms such as allowing political ads on radio, etc. paving the way for further reforms in the years to come. These reforms were targeted towards improving sources of revenue for radio players. But there was slow progress in the reform process, as most other issues were left unanswered.

Finally towards the end of the year, Radio like other media had to grapple with the economic slowdown. While the slowdown has had an effect on the industry the damage has not been as extensive as compared to TV because of radio's operational efficiencies and the fact that radio is more cost effective than other traditional media.

As for the unfortunate terror strikes in Mumbai, radio for its part acted as the Fourth Estate, reflecting public sentiment and echoing listeners' questions and views! For all people who doubt radio's abilities, this sensitive and responsible handling of a very delicate situation by not one but all stations was one example which proves that radio has a definite role to play in society as a medium which is the closest and the most personal to the listeners. And that's the power of radio!

Anuj Singh is Red FM' national marketing head and station head, Mumbai