POV: Is it the RJ who builds the station's brand image?

By Sangeeta Tanwar , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | October 26, 2010
The radio jockey (RJ) is the face of a radio station. How important is an RJ when it comes to building the brand itself?

The radio jockey (RJ) is the face of a radio station. How important is an RJ when it comes to building the brand itself?

Ramanujam Sridhar, CEO, Integrated Brand-Comm

While RJs can add to the listenership of the radio stations they work for, The radio stations have to be a little careful. Aligning the brand too closely with the popularity of one or two RJs can be counterproductive.

The RJ is promoting her personal brand, even as she performs and is building a relationship with listeners. While this works for the station, it can easily turn negative when the RJ leaves, taking her brand and her listeners with her.

Radio stations can learn from hospitals. While some of them have high-profile doctors, it does not make sense to promote one or two. The trick is to focus on the total following and management bandwidth. Radio stations must constantly promote alternates and not put all their eggs in one RJ's basket.

Nisha Narayanan, Sr VP, Projects and Programming, Red FM

Yes, they play a vital role. Playlists may be aped, but it is harder to mimic personalities. RJs help a radio brand establish an emotional connect with the listeners. They use their persona to add that sparkle on air. For some listeners, they are role models to be emulated. For others, they are friends and confidants to share gossip and feelings with.

RJs initiate conversations between the brand and listeners, knitting them together in a tight bond.

Multiple elements contribute to building a strong radio brand, but programming lies at the heart of it. Without a differentiated on-air product, chances are that a radio station will be nothing more than a jukebox.

At Red, campaigns have been spearheaded by RJs, be it Malishka in Mumbai, Nitin in Delhi or Vineet in Kolkata.

Prashant Panday, CEO, Radio Mirchi

The RJ is an extremely important part of the radio brand. It is the RJ who Represents the brand's personality. He or she can define or break the desired brand personality.

However, there are other things that determine a brand's image. Positioning is one. For instance, Mirchi is a sunshine channel. It cheers you up even when you are feeling low. In a blind test, a listener is able to identify Mirchi from the sound of its packaging. The positioning and packaging also help define a brand's image.

There must a fit between the RJ and the brand. If the fit isn't there, the brand will tank. This is the reason why almost all successful Mirchi RJs who have been poached by others have failed in their new channels. This is also why Mirchi does not ever hire from competition.

Harrish M Bhatia, CEO, MY FM

A station's image depends on three key factors. Firstly, its brand positioning, this in the case of MY FM is our Jiyo Dil Se philosophy that is epitomised across all its communications and listener interactions, both on-air and off-air.

Secondly, the differentiated content that is appealing and engaging. MY FM's content offering is well differentiated with exclusive and dedicated shows. Thirdly, the unique initiatives taken by the brand that keeps it ahead of competition. The most recent initiative of MY FM is the launch of Ramayana across all its stations.

The emotional connect and imagery that is built between the station and its stakeholders is an outcome of these factors. It is the brand that makes the RJ famous and not vice versa. It is the concept that sells and not who puts forth the concept.

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