AIR FM Gold leads from a different orbit

By Justin Thomas , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | November 05, 2008
The latest RAM ratings indicate that AIR FM Gold is No. 2 in Delhi without sweating a drop

At a & #BANNER1 & # time when all radio stations are trying hard to outdo each other to get heard, there is one station, AIR FM Gold, which remains aloof from the frenzy. Surprisingly, as per the RAM ratings for Week 42, it holds the second position in Delhi, with a share of 15 per cent. Radio Mirchi is the market leader in the city, with a share of 27 per cent in that week.

How does AIR FM Gold manage this feat, especially when it does practically no marketing? The minimal level of advertising for the station is confined to its sister channels. Speaking exclusively to afaqs!, LS Bajpai, station director, AIR Delhi, says, "Being a public broadcaster with a reach as massive as ours, it doesn't surprise me that we are in this position. However, having said that, we have reservations about the RAM ratings."

Bajpai reveals that AIR FM Gold's audience comprises ministers, intellectuals, eminent personalities and the common man. It is a Hindi radio channel which plays mostly old Hindi film songs. The advertisers are mostly the Delhi Government, the Government of India, government agencies and public sector companies. Though the private sector also advertises on the radio station, Bajpai says that the percentage is minuscule.

When asked about how AIR FM Gold manages to fight off competition from the private radio stations, Bajpai retorts that there is hardly a fight. "Private channels have almost the same kind of programming agenda. So, the fight is between them. We are on a different sphere. For the private operators, the target is almost the same - the younger generation. Ours is a serious business as we are a public service broadcaster."

He adds, "We have programmes for women as well as children. We have regular phone-in programmes for career guidance, health issues, pets and others. There is always a public service concept in our programmes. So, there is no question of competition."

AIR FM Gold's programming is varied. Dr Ritu Rajput, programming head, says, "The channel is for old melodies. It is a classic channel and targets the age group of above 35. Nevertheless, we have a programme for kids in the evening called Chhoomantar."

The day's programmes are classified according to the time. These vary from positive thoughts for the day, events and beauty tips to employment opportunities and devotional songs.

Rajput adds, "We have late night broadcasts such as Sadabahar Dus Gaane, where we play songs from the 1950s and 1960s. Then, there is, which is based on different themes."

All in all, it seems that the government radio broadcaster has insulated itself from the heat generated among the private players and is on a different playground altogether. The strategy has served it well.