Alokananda Chakraborty & Prajjal Saha

Radio City bets on cricket and elections

While on the one hand Radio City has already begun airing a cricket special, it has also lined up a bouquet of programmes linked to the forthcoming elections

With the ongoing Indo-Pak cricket series and the forthcoming assembly elections occupying the bulk of national consciousness these days, it is but natural that the attention of the media - be it print or electronic - is increasingly falling on the two areas of popular interest. Not wishing to be left behind, FM channel Radio City is also concentrating a fair bit of its energies on covering the two all-consuming topics. While on the one hand the FM radio station has already begun airing a cricket special - Cricket Ki Jung - that offers listeners match forecasts, updates, trivia and contests, it has also lined up a bouquet of programmes linked to the elections.

The ‘election specials' that Radio City is in the process of unveiling include shows such as Kya Baat Kar Raha Hai (a series of vignettes that highlight some unusual trivia of the electoral process), Rajdhani Express (a feature-based programme tracking the journey of Indian actors and actresses to Parliament) and a public service campaign titled Thengalalji, where the eponymous Thengalalji uses his quirky sense of humour to educating people on the importance of casting their vote.

However, the most interesting show in the election specials series is perhaps Radio Raga, a programme featuring eminent personalities and celebrities from the world of politics and cinema. Radio Raga kicks off with an interview with comedian Shekhar Suman - who will be on radio for the first time. Others on the programme include Bollywood actor-turned-politician Govinda, and veteran politicians such as Balram Jhakar and Pramod Mahajan. "While everyone tried to chase the masses, we tried some new ideas by taking calculated risks, because we believed it was an early stage where one could try out new ideas that were exciting not only listeners, but also the advertising fraternity," says Sumantra Dutta, chief operating officer, Radio City.

Dutta also believes that there exists a large section of the population for whom radio is the only source of entertainment. He insists that 95 per cent of people listen to radio at homes, and it's for this listener base that Radio City has tried out the age-old concept of radio plays. With a newer image and format, of course. "We have tried to recreate popular television shows such as Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi and Saans for the radio medium," says Dutta.

A couple of months ago, Radio City ventured into different genres of radio programming. These included mystery (Apradhi Kaun), comedy (Jholmaal, Angrezi Talking, Hakka Bakka, Wholesale Gudgudi and Hum Bolega - The Sajid Khan show) and horror (Darr). In the past, the radio station has also tried a hand at game shows such as Radio City 91 FM Suno Aur Lakhpati Bano. Speaking about the impact of the game show, Dutta says, "This programme not only created listener interest on Radio City, it also helped increase the total radio listener's population from 26 per cent to 38 per cent in Mumbai." When questioned about how the other genres of programming have helped Radio City increase its listener base, Dutta says, "As per a survey done by AC Nielsen, we have 45 per cent of the listener population in Mumbai, and 37 per cent in Delhi, where there are multiple players in the FM domain. And in cities such as Bangalore and Lucknow, we are the only player."

Cricket and elections, given their topicality, are currently the focus areas at Radio City, but the station is also planning ahead for life after elections and cricket. "We would certainly continue with the existing genres of programming, but we are working towards the target group of kids, which has still been an untapped target group in the radio domain," says Dutta. "Kids might contribute a negligible percentage of our listener base, but until and unless we try to create interest among the kids, we cannot expect them to be a major part of our listener base." He adds that starting May, Radio City is also planning to come up with approximately a dozen programmes on ‘thriller interactive game shows', reality shows and infotainment-based programmes. © 2004 agencyfaqs!

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