AIR FM Mumbai to pump up news content

MUMBAI: News, the USP of AIR's FM channels will become the driving force of the programming in Mumbai shortly.

All India Radio launched its phone in service for news updates on 15 August, a service that enables listeners to call the public broadcaster and hear latest recorded updates on regional and national news. FM channel Gold now plans to use the 20 strong army of the news reporters to introduce newsy snippets throughout the daylong programming. Gold, in order to compete with private FM, has already introduced news updates every half hour, apart from regional round ups, market mantras (updates on the stock market scenario) as well as sports scans.

The move assumes significance as private FM has thus far been denyied broadcast of news and current affairs, despite lobbying for the same.

For the first time in the 11 year old history of AIR FM Mumbai, the entire programming on the channel was revamped earlier this year, with anchoring introduced in both Hindi and English and shows rejigged to catch the local flavour. This Ganesh festival, Gold's RJs fanned out to several Ganesh pandals, reporting live on the goings on via cell phones. A similar exercise will be conducted during the immersion ceremony next Tuesday, with listeners getting hourly updates from all the Mumbai beaches but also about traffic updates in various parts of the city.

The channel has also been getting around the problem of shoestring budgets by getting people featured in interviews to ad lib (two 30 second spots cost the interviewee Rs 1800 during an one hour programme). While the public broadcaster has retained public sector undertakings like the Life Insurance Corporation, Insurance Regulatory Development Authority and Indian Oil Corporation as its top advertisers, retail advertising is hard to come by. Which is why, says Jayant Erande, the newly appointed station director, the programming team has roped in innovative marketing techniques that help, at least in part, to cover the production cost. 

Another show Mast Bindaast, that targets the youth, will shortly be showcasing 13 career guidance options, with each episode featuring an institute that will be given the aforementioned ad libbing option. The response, says Erande, to such techniques has been tremendous, though care is taken to ensure that only offbeat and unique people are featured in all the shows.

When the two channels revamped programming in January this year, it was also decided to introduce two minute Marathi news snippets, in addition to the hourly news broadcast from New Delhi. The RJ strength at AIR FM Mumbai has now gone up to over 120, with at least 10 jockeys pressed into service each day.

See related story-

AIR FM Mumbai overhauls programming 

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