Big River Radio (INDIA) Pvt. Ltd.
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Big River Radio (INDIA) Pvt. Ltd.
Radio in India
Big River Radio (INDIA) Pvt. Ltd.

Big River Radio, the consulting firm that advises top managements of radio stations in India, has developed a structure for strategic thinking on localising an individual station or a group of stations. Here, in brief, are some of the aspects covered by this structure.

Radio in India is big news all across the media and entertainment magazines, websites and all even across the country. Thats not surprising, considering the fact that with the setting up of over 250 radio stations by the end of 2007, a whole new medium, an entirely new market  estimated to grow up to Rs.650 crores (US$ 145 Million) in terms of advertising spends  is emerging. But what is surprising is that a completely new game, with no rules, is being played.

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Connecting to the listener through a window on the web:

Everything around us is getting compressed in dimensions of size, time and space. It's a process we call, "Digitalization of life." Major parts of what we consume today, -- products, services, information - are being created, stored, or delivered to us digitally, whether or not most of us consciously think, that we are using the digital technology, notably the internet. And as contact points grow niche and targeted, the number of people the media needs to address shoots up dramatically.

With youth being the major target audience for almost all the major commercial radio stations in the country, it is not only sufficient to use technology to be present 24X7, but to enhance its value through a fully integrated and seamless experience, to tap these new age listeners or digital natives. In such a scenario radio station websites have to strive for more than just establishing their presence online to becoming a radio station themselves.

This is the only route to sustainability because people increasingly want their value for exchange in time - if they are going to give their attention, then we have to give them something in return.

A radio station website is the space on a computer where anyone who subscribes can say "This is me, this is what I listen to, what I am interested in, what I know or whom I want to know." It sooner becomes the face of the radio station. A window, which allows the people to peep in and our expertise lies in conning them into deeper and engaged observations. But in India, the radio stations seem to underutilize the potential of a radio station website.

A very prominent example of it is, Radio Mirchi, a very popular commercial radio station in the country. It is an excellent information website for ENIL, the media group handling it, which showcases the group's upcoming ventures, activities, networks, events, and its press releases. Radio Mirchi positions itself as a station 'Mirchi sunne wale always khush', but there is no association with the "khushi" factor visually available on the web, for its listeners. It provides no connection nodes for the visitors of the website. Probably, the website is meant to be very business centric in nature.

The same goes for the Suryan FM (managed under the Suryan Network group), where the site entails the company's establishments, its offices, its huge network but there is too little to be found about their radio. Radio One is a station, which for the first time provides face to its listeners. It celebrates its listeners and their association with its station.

It provides a platform like "Club One" for all its listeners of Radio One. With such interactive options like "Club One", request for birthdays, voting for RJ's, it caters to a complete innovative and interactive experience. At the end of the day, every listener wants to know more about the voice, which starts acquiring a special significance in his or her life. And an interactive radio station website is an excellent solution provider. Radio City is outstanding in the way it positions its website, its appeal, and also the way it provides people with enough access to its RJ's.

It has a separate "Whatte Fun", section which is about jingles, jokes, gags, audio blogs, fun characters and games thereby establishing the fact that they are all about fun. Big Hits 95 is also an interactive, youth oriented, innovatively styled website. People listen to radio for the fun of it, and a radio station website should reflect that. Integration of radio and web is not only for sharing content but also for analyzing click- throughs on various aspects to the programming of the radio station to identify topics of listener's interest. The trick is treating these new age listeners as assets and engaging them meaningfully to create our radio station loyalists /advocates in this networked world, with thinner degrees of separation.

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More than just being my radio….

Radio is a beautiful medium where anybody with a pair of ears becomes an audience. In such a scenario, radio stations have to vie for the maximum share of ears. Establishing a relationship with the listener is what every radio station aims for, in the long run.

This is what brings in stations loyalists or advocates in the future. And radio stations today, leave no opportunity and try every possible way out of their hat to connect to their audience emotionally. Be it the way they revamp their content from time to time to make it more interactive in nature or organizing events and celebrating days that are special to its listeners.

Such initiatives like observing a Black Day at the India Gate, Delhi for the irresponsible act of the drivers of the Blueline buses, or celebrating their stations anniversary with challenged kids, or going for a rampage of cleaning a locality of mosquitoes do tend to establish a bond or connectivity between the listeners and a station. They also know ways not to forget days, which acquire a special significance in our lives not by virtue of their happy memories, but those, which leave sad memories behind and scratching which, brings in a lot of pain.

Their efforts at remembering all those who died in the Mumbai blasts, or paying tribute to all those who lost their lives in the Kargil war, our radio does come in as a friend to our rooms. And at times of a natural catastrophe, these radio stations do provide its victims with credible help. For e.g., the recent initiative by a radio station to help the Borrivolli residents of Mumbai stuck in flood.

We are aware that the motive of a radio station is not borne out of any social responsibility but it aims at more popularity for its radio station, greater listening hours and eventually greater revenues but implementing such initiatives, the radio stations do increase their salience beyond two hours of listenership in the morning by surrounding the listener through multiple connect nodes and consolidating its position as a credible solution provider.

Internet and radio: great complements

Internet and radio go very well together. They complement each other very well in the range of services they can provide to the station providers. It can be an excellent way to combine the smaller stations into effectively larger stations. It could be simultaneously streaming content from any one location to other. It can also exchange content offline with stations around the world. On the programming front, it provides for a good opportunity to interview people via Internet. Audio chat can be used as a means to make the Internet a virtual recording studio for a radio station. The opportunities are tremendous. In near future, the availability of wireless internet can also facilitate the listeners flip on to an online radio stream while driving to work instead of tuning into the local morning RJ. A platform like an internet based radio station allows to offer an abundance of genres which reach beyond the boundaries of traditional over-the-air music stations.

The challenge would be to pursue listeners online by developing a wholly different approach to programming. (, one of the most popular internet radio services with roughly seven million users, creates personalized stations based on the characteristics of users favourite songs. Live 365(live 365.con) which says it has four million listeners a month is a searchable portal to thousands of tiny stations playing genres from neo- soul to Christian blues. The untamed online frontier cultivates listeners adopting the idea of the chain”s mass and reach. Clear Channel’s Hot 99.5 in Washington has said it would distribute $10,000 to listeners when its nascent social network (the “Hot Spot”) reached 10,000 members. On the company’s Z100 in New York, tickets to see a performance by Beyonce were recently being given away in the station’s chat room. Fans could also join the pop station’s social network, the “Z-Zone.

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Going social the radio way….

Blogging for the radio station becomes a personal and a convenient method to know about the radio station from the listeners themselves. Either the news about a radio station passes through a word of mouth, or the listeners participate in them directly, conversations about the station going on right under one’s nose, defines the brand whether one likes it or not. Just as a phone in or messaging is considered a very important aspect of receiving the feedback from the listeners and is a crucial listener touch point, the blog is an equally important and increasingly more relevant outlet for listener’s opinions, feedback and suggestions for improvement. It soon becomes a platform for listeners to share their views. Certainly one can think as to what is more powerful—a press release or a bunch of real listeners logging on and defending the station against unfair criticism..??? Rusty Hodge, the owner of the FM station discusses the issues that affect internet radio and has comes up with various interesting relevations and discussions.

(with inputs from

A revenue earner : Advertisers are flocking online

According to TMS Media intelligence, which tracks ad spending, the amount of money spent on advertising online is more than the amount of money spent on radio. For the first time marketers are spending more money to advertise online than on the radio, according to TNS Media Intelligence, which tracks ad spending. Internet sites accounted for 7.7% of ad spending for the first quarter of the year, compared with radio’s 6.6%, TNS said Recently FRS (First Radio Service) has launched a new division to sell advertising space on the websites of the radio stations they represent. Adding online campaigns alongside the broadcast campaigns would certainly help to accommodate demand. This kind of extension will enable advertisers to target website visitors by individual site, TV region and package - such as geographically, by group or audience demographic.

(with inputs from

Upward Mobility: Mobile Radio.

The next battlefront may open in the mobile world: where mobile players have begun to offer interactive features through cellphones. Mobile has become as intrinsic part of radio than any other medium. The mobile penetration round the world is 40% with India being the third largest market for mobile after the US and China. Going by the numbers themselves in the kind of boom, the country is witnessing in terms of both, the FM radio stations and the telecom players, makes it suitable for the convergence of both the techniques.

With customized mobile phone applications that further extends the local station brands and expands the platforms to which it is distributing content, the users will be able to send text messages into the studio, participate in contests, receive an alert before their favorite song plays, make requests and dedications. Listeners can also sign up for alerts about breaking music news and tune-in times for in-studio performances, interviews and contests. Additionally, users can check current traffic conditions, test their knowledge with station specific trivia, and participate in opinion polls. Cell phone users will also be able to customize their individual phones with station logos, DJ wallpaper, and format specific ring tones. By making these applications available for free via any cellular phone carrier, the radio stations can monumentally expand access to its growing mobile content portfolio. Each application allows users to have an individualized, on-demand experience, which will strengthen listeners’ connection with their favourite radio stations.

With inputs from :

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