Hallie Flanagan once said, “The power of radio is not that it speaks to millions, but that it speaks intimately and privately to each one of those millions.” In my two-and-a-half-decade-long career in the media and entertainment industry, I have stepped into a variety of roles and loved every ounce of the ones associated with radio. In a digitally dominant ecosystem, it is certainly fashionable to question traditional mediums like radio but we must not overlook how radio creates a lasting impact in clusters of media dark areas, especially in a country like India.
Radio is soon going to complete its 100 years, despite not being on a level playing field with other broadcasting mediums. This speaks volumes for the capable medium that radio is, was, and will continue to be. A multitude of factors has made radio a whopping success. Radio has the last-mile approach. The airwaves are always reachable. It is the medium that our Prime Minister prefers to reach out to the masses (Mann Ki Baat on radio). It is the most reliable mode of information that remains active during natural calamities and disasters and also reaches the armed forces. It is hyperlocal and hyper vocal; it offers a human connection which no other platform can. Over the past couple of years, radio has also become a generous platform for up-and-coming indie artists. It is the creator of the mind, it enhances the listener’s power of imagination. It doesn’t dominate you, it just promises to be with you.
Despite the rise of streaming services, radio has long been a dominant player in the audio landscape as a force to be reckoned with.
As India’s largest radio channel, and also one of the biggest entertainment networks, Red FM has been creating more immersive and experiential audio experiences. This substantial shift towards audio experiential has opened up new opportunities for advertisers and content creators to connect with audiences in meaningful ways. Audio content is emerging from the shadows and becoming a real asset in the content marketing space. Red FM being the trailblazer in experimenting with the imagination and audio form of content came up with The Audio Film Project. The unique sound experiences and exceptional narration by Vikram Bhatt deeply affected listeners and made the show a tremendous success.
Red FM has been consistently demonstrating a commitment to inclusivity and diversity through our on-ground events and initiatives. One of the major ways to do that is by hosting events that bring people from different backgrounds and communities together. Our IPs are a reflection of our beliefs, one of which is ‘that one size does not fit everyone.’ Especially in a country like India, which cannot be described without once mentioning diversity, we are mindful of creating IPs and experientials that cater to communities furthering loyalties.
Our IP Riders Music Festival became a one-stop destination to celebrate the spirit of bikes, music, and brotherhood. The Kavi Collective is a celebration of poetry and poetry lovers and an amalgamation of veterans and contemporary poets. Furthermore, the most powerful tool at our disposal, which is regional markets, help us expand our vision into the vast culture of India. With IPs like Red Raas (an event that commemorated Navratri with a modern twist), The Yellow Taxi Music Project (a day-long musical soiree celebrating the spirit of Kolkata), South Side Story (an ultimate South Indian experience festival in the heart of Delhi), The Marathi Film Festival (a festival nurturing and encouraging Marathi movies through audience and celebrity participation) and many more we are marching into 2023 with our hearts on our sleeve and spirits in our heads and they won’t go!
Over the years, these boutique festivals have fostered a sense of community and the spirit of belongingness in our audience. We have also utilised the platform to amplify the voices of underrepresented groups and raise awareness about important social issues. Our focus on inclusivity and diversity is evident through our programming and events.
However, it is necessary to note that the success of experiential radio, or any other industry is influenced by a variety of factors, including technological advancements, market trends, and economic conditions. It is always important for businesses and organisations to stay adaptable and responsive to change in order to thrive in any industry.
We look forward to a year full of madness ahead of us and on that note, I wish you a happy new year filled with manifestations, hard work, and some fun.
(The author is COO & Director, Red FM & Magic FM.)