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FM stations hunt for loyal audience

Praveen Bose  |  Chennai/ Bangalore 

The FM stations in Bangalore seem to be following the maxim: 'Think local and act local too'. Even as the radio stations grapple with the means to maximise their listenership, they are having to figure out ways to get a loyal audience to ensure they are able to attract more advertisements.

Each station claims it has touched the pulse of the people. With the need to keep costs down even as they vie for a dedicated audience, even in a city perceived as being cosmopolitan, it is the unilingual format (here Kannada) with some Hindi film music thrown in they have found comfort in.

While some stations have preferred to stick to a unilingual format and hope that clicks, the others have had to indulge in the trial and error method to find what clicks and ultimately attracts advertisers.

The RAM or the radio audience measurement, the listenership survey, seems to give BigFM the biggest marketshare. For 84 per cent of Bangalore's populace, Kannada is the preferred language for music.

Speaking of FM radio, RAM (Week 20 data) data reveals that pure play Kannada FM stations comprise 71 per cent of the market share. "The secret to success in a diverse city like Bangalore is to try to become as local as possible in content so people think your station is their connection to their local lifestyle, which includes culture as well as music," said Paul Weyland, an international radio advertising and marketing expert. Weyland teaches media sales at the University of Texas.

According to Weyland, people feel very loyal to their favourite stations. Big FM from the ADAG stable, has been trying to use the contemporary music route to keep audience loyalty.

This is aimed at the older audience, said Sunil Kumaran, cluster head-south, Big FM. Big is now in the process of trying to be the numero uno in every market they are present.

He avers with Weyland that if you stick with a format, then you build up a loyal audience. According to its respective target audience and business plan, an FM station can choose to appeal to all of Bangalore or remain niche with a select set of listeners. Both strategies work well and there is place under the sun for all players, said Ashit Kukian, executive vice president and national head - sales, Radio City. Radio City has tried out very many formats since being the first to enter Bangalore.

But, there's the threat of too many 'me-too' stations wanting to follow the same formula and in turn, spoil the party. While the number of FM players in Bangalore has increased, there's been a commensurate increase in radio revenues in Bangalore, added Kukian.

There are seven private stations and two of All India Radio in Bangalore.

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First Published: Mon, June 16 2008. 00:00 IST
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