Star Radio to take up slots on AIR FM

NEW DELHI: Flush with the success of their Suno Aur Lakhpati Bano campaign and the way the market has responded, Star Radio, operating in the FM radio space, has decided that it will take time slots on AIR's FM channels too.

Apart from that, it has also been decided that Radio City, the brand name under which the FM radio stations are operated, will make its debut in Delhi in March, along with two other players, Radio Mirchi from the Times group and Radio Today (part of the India Today Group).

"Star is serious about the radio business and we are looking at buying big chunks of time on Air's FM channels too," Sumantra Dutta, chief operating officer of Star Radio, the FM radio division of the Rupert Murdoch-controlled Star India, told

According to Dutta, since most problems relating to infrastructure had been sorted out, Radio City (along with the other two aforementioned players) is slated to go on air in Delhi in March next.

Radio City is the country's first private FM radio station promoted by PK Mittal's Music Broadcast Private Ltd. (MBPL) where Star is contracted to provide programming content and support the radio venture's sales & marketing efforts.

After Bangalore and Lucknow, Radio City launched in Mumbai in May 2002. MBPL had also bagged the license for FM Radio stations in two other cities, including Patna, which have been surrendered since then as the slow inflow of revenue in a radio venture did not warrant starting stations in these cities.

But what is exciting Dutta more is the Suno Aurr Lakhpati Bano campaign which, according to him, till a few days back was attracting over 500,000 calls a day from listeners.

"With two weeks completed of the game (that is from 7th to 20th Oct) , the tally stands at 14 days of Radio City 91 FM Suno Aurr Lakhpati Bano, two lakhpatis, 140 bumper winners with over 48 lakh (4.8 million) responses received over the14 days through phone calls & SMS messages," Dutta said, adding, "Personally it gives me a sense of deja vu as the situation is very similar to the post launch phase of KBC a couple of years ago on Star Plus."

At the time of launch of KBC, Dutta was heading the ad sales team for Star Plus.

So, if so many prizes have been given out, what is left? Lots, says Dutta. Radio City has budgeted for Rs 100,000 a day for the 40-day campaign. As things stand till the time of writing this piece, prize money worth only slightly over RS 400,000 has been given out.

However, the advertising industry is a bit sceptical of such hype. Explained a media planner with a foreign advertising firm, "Radio City's hype can do two things: either the lakhpati campaign helps the venture like KBC did to Star Network or after its run its course, the listeners desert it. What is more needed is good programming so that those who are coming to Radio City just get glued there."

But Dutta has a different theory. Syas he: "It's sad that the market is taking sometime to settle in as advertisers in India are slowly experiencing the capability of this medium. In absence of research (debatable though as some research is available on FM radio in India), it is only an advertiser's understanding of how radio can work to his benefit that will make him use this medium. The advertisers who join the bandwagon early are likely to gain much more than the ones who come on post research, as airtime post research will be more expensive."

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