Television

'More and more local production is the way forward' : Bhaskar Dutt - Radio City 91FM - Bangalore VP & station head

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Radio City FM 91, Bangalore launched in July 2001. Promoted by Music Broadcast Private Limited (MBPL), and with 75 per cent equity from GW Capital, Radio City claims to be the first station to use state-of-the-art digital stereo FM.

Bhaskar Dutt is the VP & station head for Radio City 91FM - Bangalore for the last one year. Dutt has moved around a lot since he left Kolkata in 1984. And believe it or not, Dutt also been the head of the Stryker Howmedica orthopaedic business in India.

Indiantelevision.com's Taro W spoke to Dutt to get a low down on Bangalore's only private FM radio station's plans.

Excerpts:

Could you update us on Radio City Bangalore?

Though we've changed from English to Hindi a few years ago, and our positioning across the country is that of a Hindi music station, what hasn't changed is that we are back with the high energy hit music that cuts across a big age group. It's the 15-35 age group that we try and cater to, it cuts across social and economic strata, it's all pervading. What has changed actually is the language. Given the cosmopolitan character of Bangalore, we let the Jock's talk in English, unlike Mumbai or Delhi or in Lucknow where the language of the music is Hindi and the jock talk is also in Hindi. Bangalore is the only station in the country where the jock talk is in English.

Regarding sharing of software with other Radio City stations...

The programs are generally similar to those on Radio City stations in Mumbai, Delhi and Lucknow, except, as I said earlier, that here the RJs speak in English. The production of some programs like Junior Janab by Roshan Abbas are centralized though. At this point of time there is not too much of sharing of software. We at Radio City think it is better to localise more rather than generalise. That is the way forward - more and more local production.

"We'll be bringing back English again, because we find that some of our listeners have a preference for English music. This will probably be in the 9 pm to 12 pm slot. Middle of the road stuff. We won't be doing hard rock and we wont be doing jazz. Again we want to get the 15 to 35 age crowd to tune in.

Another demand is for more of Kannada, we have a four-hour slot on Sunday, called the Chow chow bath hosted by Kiran. This is a very popular program. We'll probably extend that to weekdays also. At present, what we do is that we play some Kannada songs over the week during our regular programs. We're now toying with the idea of a Kannada slot some time during the day.

Do you have any rating systems in Bangalore to know how many people will be listening to you?

Not in Bangalore. In multi-station cities, like Delhi and Mumbai There is an ILT (Indian Listenership Track). I'm sure it will happen here too once a second station comes in.

You had Kyunki Saas bhi... and Saans in Bangalore, you also had Kahaani? in Mumbai. Why have you discontinued beaming the soundtracks of soaps?

We'd decided to broadcast an 'X' number of episodes, plus it wasn't live, in the sense people had already seen these episodes on TV. In Bangalore, we decided to do more of the local stuff. For example the Matinee show. We do a lot of local city oriented stuff like Chat on the Mat and Karma Yogi. This is more relevant to Bangalore.

You have so many public service messages, do you charge for them?

No we don't charge for these programs. We also work very closely with the police and not just for traffic. I remember some time back there were rumours about Kannada doyen Rajkumar who was unwell - that he was in a bad shape. I believe rioting had already started in one part of the city. What we did was we contacted the police commissioner to tell people on air that there was nothing seriously wrong and to ask them to maintain peace and calm. We had Rajkumar's son on air thanking people for their concern and informing people that his father was fine. We worked on a very short notice. Even now, all that the police has to do is give us a call, and we immediately oblige. Sometimes, we ask them if they'd like to go on air and clear matters.

How are you gearing up for challenges of competition? Radio Mirchi may probably come in next year.

We welcome that. The category would expand. We've created the market. Up to now this has pretty much been our market. What will happen now is that the category would expand, there would be more people sharing, there'd be more value to deliver. There would probably be more scope for experimentation, for all players that is. There would probably be niche programming. Right now we are providing mass entertainment. Depending on how the new bill is passed and with new stations coming in we hope to do some experimentation.

Currently all stations in India target the 15-35 age group. Do you foresee age-specific stations or focus-specific, having programs targeted towards specific age groups as is the practice in the west? Like stations specifically for the young or the old stations that talk only on cooking?

No, not in the immediate future. This will happen only if your licensing is friendly to that. In many other countries you have different licensing policies and regimes for different kinds of programming. You have a different licensing policy for non-music programming. We don't have those kind of policies in India. As long as there is no differentiation in the fee structure based on programs we may not have any such 'niche' stations. The viable business model has to accept that.

How do you market yourselves, increase awareness among people about your presence, bring in new listeners in the city?

First, quite obviously we broadcast on air. We're going to have more presence on ground, we're doing outdoor, billboards, some have already come up. Actually we've gone outdoor after a long time. You will see this across the year.

They'll be like the Amul hoardings... people would look forward to what comes next. We'll refresh the hoarding every month.

We want to have a theme that really identifies us. Right now the theme that has really worked is City Bajao. You see that on our hoardings. It has had such a connect with Radio City. It has sold very well.

Who does your creative work for these hoardings? Any new themes?

We work with some local agencies. And a national agency is pitching for us. I think Indiantelevision.com reported that. That's in the process. Once that happens, we will also have a brand building campaign.

Your fourth birthday anniversary, could you share some of your celebration plans?

"We were the first Radio station in the country and are now the first to turn four. We are taking all our shows on ground --- In the past we haven't really done many ground events, so a lot of people don't know what the jocks look like. So we plan to take every single week day show - Good Morning Bangalore, Matinee Show, Simply Adjust Madi and Route No. 91 with Darius - we'll be taking all these shows on ground. We'll go to various places and talk live from there. We'll definitely increase our on-ground presence.

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