Radio City tunes in to non music programming

MUMBAI: Can what worked for Star on television succeed for its FM arm on the radio airwaves? The answer will be known soon enough - a radio version of landmark gameshow Kaun Banega Crorepati, to be followed by Star Plus' hit soaps will all feature on Radio City within a month.

The private radio station from the Star Network stable has decided to go non-music with a vengeance. While the first step in this direction is Radio City 91 FM Suno Aurr Lakhpati Bano, an aural version of KBC that kicks off on the station on 7 October, radio versions of Star's hit soaps like Kyunki' and Kahaani.' are likely the next step towards inducing the fickle listener into more trials of Radio City as well as giving the advertiser quality content to advertise on.

Cricket, says COO Sumantro Dutta, will be the next phase of non music programming that Radio City is looking to capitalize on before the World Cup early next year. The channel though, will not be content with broadcasting scores and analyses but will develop novel shows that will pull in the cricket lovers, says Dutta. As of now, SALB, that will shoot hourly questions at listeners every day, is targeted at the SEC A,B,C males and females in the 15 to 44 age group.

The USP of the show is Amitabh Bachchan, who will ask the 10 questions daily and result in one lakhpati per day. The Radio City strategy is a calculated one. The channel aims to break the clutter of the five private stations that clog Mumbai's airwaves, induce large number of trials as well as increase brand content on the channel. The strategy has an uncanny resemblance to the evolution of Star Plus over the years. Radio City has switched to Hindi as its primary language, is now banking on a KBC inspired show and plans to use soaps to pull in the viewers.

"Listeners are still confused about stations and the frequencies attached to them," admits Dutta. The appointment listening that SALB intends to promote will also help establish an identity link for Radio City. A massive sales force too has been deployed in the field to enlighten retailers about radio as an advertising medium, says Dutta, "so that radio is no longer perceived as a secondary medium."

The first run of SALB will be for six weeks, depending on the success of which, the show will be taken to other cities where Radio City has a presence. Radio City is set to debut in Delhi at the end of February or the first week of March along with other private players in the fray, as all private stations will be co-located on AIR towers in the capital.

Radio City Mumbai currently claims a listener base of 2 million. Dutta says that an estimated 9,000 to 10,000 listeners respond to the current phone in shows on the station and expects the figure to shoot up by 20 times that number once SALB starts. The station has gone progressively Hindi in the last couple of months and currently has an average of 70 brands advertising on the channel.

Radio City also will be employing NFO-MBL to track the success of SALB along with its in house team.

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