''Radio needs to become fashionable'' : Sumantra Dutta & John Catlett

It may have lost the first mover advantage in Mumbai, but Music Broadcast promoted Radio City is brimming with the same confidence of storming the audio market as the three players already in the fray thus far.

A few hours into the station's launch in the city yesterday, COO Sumantra Dutta was ecstatic that the fledgling FM channel was winning kudos for its 'better sound and signal quality' and 'much better reach'. Undaunted by the prohibitive license fees, CEO John Catlett is equally positive that the key to breaking even lies in launching as many stations as possible in the country. 91, says Dutta, was delayed for want of clearance from the aviation authorities as the transmission towers are located on the tallest building in the country. Clearance finally came though on 5 May. Wit, attitude and voice marks the eight DJs who have been handpicked for the channel.

Speaking to's Aparna Joshi, both Catlett and Dutta were categorical that the key to 91's success lay in a smart marketing strategy - one that would create a buzz about the brand and help the humble radio become fashionable, all over again.

Sumantra Dutta, on the channel's USP

We have the entire Star library at our disposal. We will shortly be starting with shows from the library including soaps, quiz shows…the works. The long term strategy is to get people habituated to the channel. We are currently the only 24-hour live FM channel on air. Since we are using the tallest building (Shripati Arcade, Nana Chowk) in the country for our transmission towers, our reach is much better than the other channels - we reach beyond Kalyan on one side, and beyond Dahisar on the other.

John Catlett, on content of FM radio, particularly that of 91

Music by far has been synonymous with FM stations, in all the countries I have worked in the broadcast industry. Although FM content need not necessarily be only popular music, it is what is appreciated the most. However, in some cases, like in Russia some years ago, a block of western classical music inserted between hit music shows, drew a lot of positive response from listeners. Even in developed countries, radio gets an ad spend share of eight to 10 per cent, while the figures for India are less than two per cent. Ever since we started in Bangalore in July 2001, we have managed to increase the figure to nearly six per cent. We are now aiming to take it even higher in the next five years. Listenership figures in Bangalore too have gone up by 60 per cent since the launch of Radio City in Bangalore. Tracking listeners in the absence of a monitoring system remains tough, with awareness low among citizens.

Sumantra'Sumo' Dutta
hn Catlett

Sumantra Dutta, on the strategy employed to wean listeners to 91 FM

We put up pre-launch teasers on hoardings all over the city a week before the launch. On the promotions front, TV leads the charge, with the outdoors being employed for a multiplier effect. Bus backs and bus panels are being employed to ensure recall value, and a Radio City mobile van is doing the rounds of the city. A contest that kicks off on 27 May will give away thousands of radio sets to winners as part of the gameplan to get more young people hooked to the radio habit.

The generation that considers radio old fashioned is gone, and the new one is completely open to fresh ideas. Radio now needs a social stamp of approval, needs to become fashionable and we aim to do that in much the same way as Sony did with the Walkman.

Sumantra Dutta, on advertising on 91

Radio City in Bangalore already has 240 brands on air. In Mumbai, we already have 12 to 15 advertisers on board. Thirty per cent of our revenues are coming from the direct retail market. If direct retailers are able to return to us for continued advertising, it obviously means that advertising on Radio City is effective. Advertising is the only source of revenue for us, and given the high license fees that the government has slapped on us, it could take us six to 10 years to break even.

Latest Reads
Inito gives anxious couples hope through its new ad

The desire to have children is something that is harboured by millions of couples. But, in the eagerness to do so, many times this whimsical process ends up becoming strenuous and stressful for many. In order to help beat the woes for many such couples, Inito, a medical technology company, has...

MAM Marketing Brands
Vernacular content consumers to be 2.5 times English by 2021: Deloitte

MUMBAI: Deloitte India has launched the eighth edition of its report on technology, media and telecommunications which predicts major advances in machine learning, voice over LTE (VoLTE) technology services and over-the-top (OTT) platforms, apart from other trends.

MAM Marketing MAM
IAA's new initiative seeks to end rigidity in office timings

A new social initiative titled #WorkToLiveToWork has been undertaken by the International Advertising Association’s (IAA) India chapter with Nandini Dias, managing committee member of IAA and CEO of Lodestar India, at the helm. Dias lost two colleagues in separate accidents related to railways...

MAM Media and Advertising People
PVR promotes cleaner air

MUMBAI: Cinema exhibition company PVR Pictures has launched a new campaign called, #BeTheCommuter with an aim to promote clean air and curb pollution.

MAM Marketing Brands forays into furniture

MUMBAI: In a move to further expand its product categories,, India’s first B2B e-commerce platform for hospitality procurements has announced its entry into furniture, fixture and equipment (FF&E) segment.  With over 50 brands and more than 5000 products from across the globe,...

MAM Marketing Brands
Digital will be core of ad budgets by 2020: DAN report

MUMBAI: The increasing penetration of digital media in India is creating huge opportunities for marketers to reach out to untapped audiences in newer ways than before. Marketers are getting innovative with the way they choose to advertise to their audience.

MAM Media and Advertising Digital Agencies
Vodafone brings back the Pug in AR

MUMBAI: Television viewers and spectators at Sunday’s grand finale of the Vodafone Premiere Badminton League broke into impromptu smiles when they realised they had unexpected company.

MAM Marketing Brands
Smartworks shows tech-friendly office in new ad

MUMBAI: Provider of shared work spaces, Smartworks has launched its second brand video featuring the benefits of hassle free technology to enhance collaboration and productivity for its members.

MAM Marketing MAM
Ramesh & Suresh get 'lost' again in Cadbury 5Star 3D

MUMBAI: Ramesh and Suresh are back and this time they are lost at a whole new level. Over the last twelve years, Cadbury 5Star has entertained viewers bringing to them ‘lost’ antics of the iconic duo of Ramesh and Suresh.

MAM Marketing MAM

Latest News

Load More

Sign up for our Newsletter

subscribe for latest stories