Hit 95 FM challenges listeners to sing in MJ style

By afaqs! news bureau , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | June 25, 2009
The radio operator, in a bid to connect better with its listeners, launches a singing challenge for Michael Jackson fans

If you thought that you could sing like Michael Jackson, Hit 95 FM wants you to get on-air and prove it. The radio station launched 'The Michael Jackson This Is It Challenge' last week, asking listeners to come on-air and sing Michael Jackson's (popularly known as MJ) records. Hit has roped in Idea Cellular as the sponsor for the challenge.

Neetu Puri Mathrani, programming head, Hit 95 FM, says in an official communiqué, "Hit 95 FM has always given Delhi and our partners a unique blend of programming. We are happy to partner with Idea to present The Michael Jackson This Is It Challenge, another unique music show for our listeners. Our offerings, such as 'Idea presents The Ultimate Santana Challenge', 'Live Earth' -- the global warming concert across seven continents that played live on the station, and 'Live & Loud' -- where listeners were taken to international locations to enjoy the true spirit of live music with music greats, have been very successful in the past. We hope to witness similar fervour for our latest initiative."

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The first phase of the challenge is being executed on-air, and is open for everybody with a reasonably good voice. The participants are required to call up a number, which puts them through to an IVRS (Interactive Voice Response System), and record a 30-second extract from any MJ song.

Then, a team comprising the Hit 95 FM staff selects deserving entries, which are put on-air for the listeners to judge through a system of SMS voting.

Atul Chaturvedi, chief operating officer, Delhi, Idea Cellular, says, "Music is a universal tool to connect with people across all divides. It's evergreen, contemporary and youthful; thus providing us with a good medium to connect with our target audience, which is the youth. Additionally, it also gives our value-added services portfolio a good lift."

Both Hit FM and Idea are doing their bit to generate buzz around the challenge. The radio station is bringing out teasers prior to the launch, along with RJ mentions, trivia capsules, shock jocks and tune-ins throughout the on-air auditions.

Idea is promoting the initiative through out-of-home, word of mouth and SMS broadcasting, thus building up traffic for the radio station.

A total of five entries will be finalised after the first round -- three from the on-air auditions route and two through 'Jump the Queue', a privilege that Idea has provided to its users.

Idea users can simply call up a short code and record their 30-second song. The chosen two participants will get to jump the first round of on-air auditions and be a part of the final five, who will perform in front of a live audience at the Sports Bar in Gurgaon on June 28. A panel of judges would then choose the final two winners.

The winners will sing their way to the Michael Jackson Concert in London in July 2009 on an all-expense paid trip.

As for the MJ angle to the challenge, a senior spokesperson from Hit 95 FM says, "MJ is going to perform for the last time in July. After a series of performances, this is going to be the last opportunity for the fans of The King of Pop to see him on stage. We don't indulge in run-of-the-mill stuff such as society parties, which most of the radio channels are doing. We try to create value for clients as well as our listeners."

The initiative will not stop with the winners leaving for the concert. The radio channel will invite the winners, after their tour, to share their experience with listeners in Delhi.

As for the revenue expectations from the property, the spokesperson does not divulge much, but says that sponsorship is the only mode for generating revenue, since the channel does not have any short codes to rake in moolah from the SMS route. "We never got any short code for our channel, as we don't want to make our listeners pay in whichever way. A single SMS to these short codes costs Rs 5-6; we only have a GSM number, to which an SMS costs nothing more than 50 paise to 1 rupee."

Both Idea and Hit 95 FM are also looking forward to engage their consumers and listeners, respectively, with their brands through such initiatives. Both say that such platforms and initiatives make it easier for companies to involve their audience with the brands.