Waves of music

Revved up Listeners are spoilt for choice with number of programmes and interactive RJ’s on FM

Revved up Listeners are spoilt for choice with number of programmes and interactive RJ’s on FM   | Photo Credit: Photo: S. Thanthoni

FM channels in the city celebrate their first anniversary of conquering the air waves

A constant companion; one that follows you everywhere; is always ready to play your tune; one that understands your moods and always lends you an ear… this is the kind of buddy that folks in the city were introduced to a year ago with the radio revolution. The FM market was opened to private players and we, the listeners, were ever too glad to catch on to the buzz that the FM channels brought forth.

In the city alone there are four private players and All India Radio making waves within their structured frequencies. Says Sreevidya, Head of Programming, Club 94.3 FM, which began on January 29: “Keralites who had only heard of the radio revolution happening up north lapped up the FMs in no time.” Further enlightening us on the FM revolution is George Sebastian, Chief Operating Officer, Club FM 94.3: “There was already a good audience for the radio. All we had to do was evangelize the frequency rather than the medium. Hence the exponential expansion of the market.”

Deepthi Sivan, Station Director of 93.5 SFM which was launched on 6 February 2008, agrees and adds: “ At first our biggest challenge was to get listeners to differentiate between and tune into the new frequencies. Now the challenge is to make them stick to one frequency!”

With the audience being spoilt for choice by the plethora of programmes and radio jockeys (RJ’s) vying for their ears it is tough for FMs to maintain listenership. But they are not daunted by the task. Says George: “FM radio has seen a constructive and disciplined growth in Kerala. This is because of the amount of research that goes into our planning and execution.” Namitha Naiyar, producer for Big 92.7 FM adds: “FMs have to think and act local. Before the launch we did extensive research on market acceptance. We understood that the real FM culture of walking around listening to music was still nascent in Kerala, so we had to and still are striving for that.”

Fixed Programme Chart

For FM players, it involves a lot of ground work and pre-planning. Says Sreevidya: “We formatted a Fixed Programme Chart (FPC) that is programmed to play music according to the moods of the listeners. Accordingly, 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. is time for soothing music plus devotionals; 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. has fast numbers with updates on local news. From 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. it is for women to boogie; 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. is about food. The 2 p.m. to 4 p.m slot is about movies and gossip; 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. is again fast music, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. is a mixed bag, sometimes light, sometimes heavy and then 10 p.m. to 12 midnight you get romantic songs… so you see all moods are covered!”

Ninety per cent of the programmes are devoted to music, mostly a cocktail of Malyalam, Hindi, Tamil and English. That’s also why you see radio getting more interactive by the day not to mention proactive. Says George: “Through our revved up RJs, upbeat and interactive programmes we establish a rapport that is favourable to both, listener and player.” But FMs do get proactive too and not everything is fun and games. Points out Deepthi Sivan: “We do a lot of community programmes and events that address local issues. There was an instance when the scanner at the Government Hospital had an issue. When we reported it, the Health Minister instantly took measures to get it back on track. This is just one of the examples of the instant responsiveness of this medium.”

However they do face challenges such as getting and retaining talented RJs, overcoming hefty royalty fees and the ban on FMs breaking news. Although they do try and tweak in serious news here and there, for now FMs are happy to remain as an entertainment medium.


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