RED FM is a national brand with a strong local flavour and is one of the most prominent private FM radio players in India with over 70 stations and, even more importantly, covers the top 50 cities. Red FM network is a market leader with an unmatched mass appeal dominating across most age groups, listenership profiles and geographical areas. Brand Red FM is a contemporary hit radio network that delivers super hit music 24X7 to listeners using DMT (Digital Music Testing).
Red FM network is one of the established leaders in the FM radio industry; Surendar has played a crucial role in the business growth of the Red FM radio network in India. The Red FM network has grown leaps and bounds from a 7-station network in 2005 to nearly 70 stations now spread across India.
In conversation with Medianews4u, B.Surendar, Chief Operating Officer & Director spoke about the Covid pandemic’s impact on Radio medium, content and marketing strategies of Red FM and more.
According to Surendar, “As the world is struggling hard to bring an end to the Covid pandemic, Radio as a medium seems to be emerging much stronger both internationally as well as in India thanks mainly to its credibility and special ability to adapt easily to crises.”
Speaking further on the impact of Covid-19 on the Radio industry, he said, “Whenever humankind has faced natural disasters or health emergencies, Radio with its simple, accessible, universal and unobtrusive nature tends to play a key role in alleviating its psychological impact on people. The enticing combo of RJ’s who manage to connect emotionally and locally with their audience and Music which almost always has a soothing effect on the human mind has helped the medium improve its relevance in this era of digital disruption.”
“From a revenue point of view, we, like the rest of the media industry, did get affected but are recovering quite well. Hopefully, the financial year ahead would help us bounce back strongly,” he added.
Elaborating on the content and marketing strategies Red FM followed during the pandemic period, Surendar said, ”The need to create awareness and demolish myths about the pandemic meant that we had to integrate that aspect firmly with our regular content, which normally focuses on music, movies, humour, sports, social and local city issues. The idea was to act as a bridge between radio listeners and the real world. It’s not for nothing that Radio is considered the oldest social media platform. We at Red FM network have always believed that our brand is a platform for people’s expression, and we need to bajao the opinions and emotions in the respective cities.”
He continued, “We had to up the action on our digital platforms to bring in virtual entertainment by interacting with celebrities from the movie and music world in particular. Thankfully it has worked well for us in terms of reach and engagement on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, etc. We are also trying to improve our expertise in newer avenues like podcasting, content syndication, etc., by capitalising on the creative abilities of our content teams.”
Assessing the performance of Red FM in terms of revenue and listenership during the pandemic, he said, “Different studies did across the globe in Europe, USA, UK, Australia, South Africa, India, etc. have all shown a distinct increase in radio listenership during the present Covid 19 crisis. The fact that Radio is a non-intrusive medium but highly relevant for news, current affairs and entertainment that too in an environment where a sizable population was working from home did trigger this sharp jump in listenership.”
He added, “The revenue increase was not proportional to the listenership one as the same is also linked to the performance of the overall economy and that of the key advertising categories on Radio. But the recovery has gained a lot of momentum in the recent past, and hopefully, normalcy and incremental growth will happen soon.”
Surendar further spoke about the strategies and hopes for 2021.
“It still makes a lot of sense to look at the short and medium-term when it comes to strategies as we try solving the problems in the Covid jigsaw puzzle. I would look at the current revenue year in three phases viz. pre-festival, festival and post-festival while formalising strategies,” he said.
He continued, “Efforts to go beyond Radio, BTL, etc. and position ourselves as audio content and solutions providers would be required in this digital era. Exploring newer platforms and avenues for both content and revenues will go on. But it goes without saying, evangelising the power and relevance of Radio in today’s digital world would remain the top priority as the influence of the medium, and its RJ’s would remain its core strength.”
“The biggest hope in the next one year is that we will completely overcome the unprecedented crisis created by the Covid pandemic on our life and business with the help of vaccination and safety precautions and bounce back with a vengeance,” he concluded.