New sounds, new ideas, new experiments

Jan 03 2013, 21:14 IST
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SummaryRadiao an exciting medium. It’s “instantaneous”, it’s “youthful”, it’s “energetic” and it’s “a friend of its listeners”.

From more programming variety to the rise of digital radio to more stations and branded properties, the sound waves will be crackling with innovative solutions for advertisers

Prashant Panday

Radiao an exciting medium. It’s “instantaneous”, it’s “youthful”, it’s “energetic” and it’s “a friend of its listeners”. Compared to its much bigger media relatives, radio is a very humble medium that adjusts itself to suit the needs, moods and timelines of its listeners. The listeners, in turn, respond by showering it with their love and affection and a very loyal listening habit. This explains why just 240-odd stations across just 80-odd towns manage to reach some 150 million listeners, while the redoubtable newspaper business reaches just double this number with nearly30 times more publications. Radio has had a good run in 2012, but the best is yet to come for radio. 2013 will surely see some of that action, but the action won’t stop until at least 2017 or so. Here’s a snap of what one can expect in the years to come.

* Phase-3 means more expansion, more choice. Private FM will find itself extending to nearly 250 new towns by end of 2013, bringing the joys of this medium to millions more. In addition to the people of these towns, the other bunch of people who should be excited by radio’s growth is the burgeoning bunch of small advertisers, who are currently at the mercy of newspapers. Radio should help a lot of fringe advertisers grow their business, and should help add teeth to the plans of all the other advertisers who today depend solely on newspapers.

But more than this, Phase-3 will bring more choice to the people of bigger towns where private FM has already made its presence felt. Today, Mumbai has only seven private FM stations with just one station providing English music and none offering Marathi, or Hindi retro, or Indipop, or news, or any of the other regional languages. This cosmopolitan melting pot of a city has to make do with just one genre – contemporary Bollywood music. With two more frequencies being offered, and with existing broadcasters being allowed to take them, there is a chance that there will be more programming variety on offer. What would help this process is if the government agrees to reduce frequency separation between two channels, thus potentially doubling the number of channels to 18 in the bigger metros. Even

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