Radio City has spearheaded the evolution of FM radio by offering content that is unique, path-breaking and invokes city passion amongst listeners with its brand philosophy of “Rag Rag Mein Daude City”. The network introduced humour and the concept of agony aunt on the radio with Babber Sher and Love Guru respectively. It also initiated Radio City Freedom Awards, a platform to recognize independent music and provided a launchpad to budding singers with Radio City Super Singer, the first singing talent hunt on the radio.
In conversation with Medianews4u, Ashit Kukian, CEO, Radio City, spoke about Radio City’s brand transformation, integration of radio with new age media, podcast evolution, and more.
On Radio City’s journey and its transformation
Radio City’s journey began with songs and the power of music which is now also about empowering people and their lives, which are entrenched as a reflection on a creative audio canvas. It has evolved greatly to compete with highly visual media such as television and OTT content. Radio City, as a pioneer is also on a transformative journey that is about giving the very best of content to our audiences. Our station is keen on leveraging its ability to produce something impactful that will carry the potential to change people’s lives and have a beneficial influence on our listeners. The journey has been tremendously rewarding, with a continuous learning curve that has enabled Radio City to become one of the most loved and leading FM radio stations in the world. Our endeavour to build and reinvent entertainment every day has made this channel a personal avenue to communicate to our listeners across the country. With its highly regional and simplistic nature, each of our localized content is tailored to touch the hearts of our audiences by creating tangible and memorable experiences. Each programme symbolises a particular mood, energy, and emotion, and each station has its distinct voice and charisma.
As the country’s first FM broadcasters and with over 20 years of expertise, we are constantly striving for excellence by managing to reinvent ourselves regularly by producing original and ground-breaking content. We have established new benchmarks for radio programming with our well-established presence across the country, receiving the most prestigious radio honours such as Golden Mikes, India Radio Forum, New York awards, ACEF awards, and so on.
On Radio City’s new IP
We are currently developing unique digital intellectual property. We began with podcasts on traditional radio, and have now moved to the digital realm. Today, all of Radio City’s output is a deliberate blend of conventional and digital. We’ve always had a strong connection with our listeners, which has helped us become a household brand throughout the years. Even during the lockdown, when the radio segment suffered a setback, we made certain that we reached listeners across the country through our digital marketing campaigns.
Many of our new IPs contain a range of out-of-the-box material, such as the property ‘Aji Sunte Ho,’ which revolves around amusing couple banter and features prominent couples such as Karenvir Bohra and Teejay Sidhu as guests. Our marketing approach also includes bringing inspiring and intuitive material, which is especially important at a time when viewers need humour, motivation, and quality content more than ever. In response, we have produced sensitive and life-changing concerts that have not only entertained but also presented audiences with a new viewpoint.
‘Little Shots,’ an example of our great programming in the post-covid era, was all about improving listeners’ spirits. It featured celebrities expressing their life-changing experiences with COVID-19, as well as their amazing recovery tales. Sanjeev Kapoor, Urvashi Dholakia, Shantanu Maheshwari, and Rohan Joshi were among the celebrities that graced the property. Similarly, we are integrating the finest regional material to improve our pan-India appeal with shows like Velaikaaran in Chennai, which offers incredible stories of individuals with really unique occupations.
On the integration of radio with new age media
We’ve consistently focused on becoming the leaders in whatever we do. As a result, Radio City began expanding into the digital sphere more than a decade ago, combining our programming across several channels to provide the finest possible service. While we continue to expand our already massive social media footprint and add to our virtual services amid the pandemic, we have guaranteed that the spirit of our brand stays intact. For us, integration entails not just mapping our presence across numerous channels, but also ensuring that our great content reaches a wide audience while remaining distinct and personalized.
The radio industry is transforming itself to deliver new-age material that is relevant to clients, and it is well on its way to not just recovery, but also growth. When compared to pre-covid days, we have seen a recovery rate of above 90% in Radio City, thanks to our various new sites and digital development. Radio, as a sensitive medium, can change quickly and provide the best to people worldwide. As the country’s premier radio station, we are actively participating in this transformation and are poised to rebound stronger thanks to our unique marketing techniques.
On the relevance of podcasts in today’s time and are podcasts a threat to the radio industry?
Our digital positioning complements our traditional radio placement perfectly. We are producing an increasing number of original podcasts. We are also developing an increasing number of digital-led solutions, both from the standpoint of advertisers and content creators. Digital play is a change that is taking place and will continue to take place. Podcasts essentially are going to play a complementary role to the radio and enhance the reach of quality content among the masses.
Our website, www.radiocity.in, also allows users to tune in to their favourite radio station, select one of our 39 locations, and see excellent video conversations between our RJs and top celebrities. Additionally, the site provides a wide selection of entertainment, including podcasts, quizzes, and the most recent entertainment news. We’re also fully aware of social media’s enormous reach, and we’ve taken use of it to bring the best of radio to the virtual world. Our adaptable material extends from fashionable reels to influencer collaborations to video chats with the country’s greatest personalities. We are currently producing the most full-rounded entertainment programming, with Radio City’s tradition extending across the internet media as well.
In terms of reacting to the current trends throughout the world, Radio City has always been one step ahead. We started our first online radio station, Radio City Fun Ka Antenna, in 2010, long before the digital medium gained broad appeal. In the previous eleven years, we’ve grown to provide 18 online radio stations, each with its own distinct and new regional programming.
On advertising sentiments and responses for the festive period?
Radio has been an exceptionally creative realm that attracts listeners’ attention through only audio, and as a result, radio advertisements have been quite imaginative as well. Indian radio commercials have always been exceptionally creative, catching the audience’s attention by appealing to their theatre of the mind. With the extra task of expressing a product or a concept using only the power of sound, producers have managed to break past the advertising special effects barrier by developing audio ads that are equally as compelling.
The increase over the previous year indicates that the festive season will also be stronger than last year. The reintroduction of sports events is also an indicator that things are gradually returning to routine, which will increase advertising. With events such as the IPL and the World Cup, as well as the Christmas season, we anticipate an increase in both volume and income.
During this time, we are seeing reasonably good advertising sentiments for the domain as we continue to develop as a pioneering force in Indian radio and increase our digital capabilities. We believe that throughout this festive season, there will be a strong uptake of commercials, which will reflect in volume consumption and inventory utility, which are expected to be considerably greater than during the same period last year, indicating a clear sign of recovery.
On marketing strategies of Radio City during the pandemic era
In terms of reach, we have outperformed in several markets that are vital to marketers. As a result, from a reach standpoint, we will focus our solutions on our clients in these markets. Radio City considers its advertising and creative solutions to be among the finest in the industry. We will capitalise on our strengths by providing innovative solutions and attempting to gain a bigger percentage of income. We feel that with all of these efforts, it will only expand from where it is currently. We have evolved in the last eleven years to offer 18 web radio stations, with their own unique and fresh regional content today.
Radio is a strong medium that may not only amuse but also inspire and unite people. The pandemic was a delicate moment, and we made certain that we provided the greatest information to help our listeners navigate the turbulent waters. Our goal was to not just entertain, but also to contribute to the community’s overall fight against the epidemic. Radio City became an incredibly relevant medium through products such as ‘Radio City Bazaar,’ which served as a ‘vocal centre for local vyaapar,’ providing quality financial and entrepreneurial guidance at a time when people throughout the country were experiencing not just emotional, but also financial misery. Through this property, we were able to promote several modest and home-grown enterprises.
We also developed timed campaigns, such as ‘Radio City Pe Scam,’ starring Pratik Gandhi, to encourage residents to be vaccinated as soon as possible. Super Singer, Radio City’s legacy show, has begun its thirteenth season and remains as popular as ever today. The historic property has been renovated to become digital with a first of its kind virtual finale, keeping the pandemic in mind, with Kailash Kher returning as a judge once more.
On your ad budgets and marketing spends
Given the situation, we have been prudent in our marketing spending and have creatively used our content and brand associations with media partners to market ourselves. We have also extensively used our RJ influencers along with social media influencers to market ourselves.
On plans for 2022
This year, with the whole world migrating to digital, we have continued to innovate and push the boundaries, with all our shows and segments incorporating the transition brought about by this sensitive time. We are clear that we will consolidate our position and will continue to stay on top as leaders in the radio industry. We will stay rooted to the radio at the same time increase our presence on digital platforms to encash the reach across mediums.