The third phase of FM stations in the country will finally roll out this year, with the government clearing the decks for the e-auction. It’s been delayed for over three years and this news—that more stations will be available to the public—is only welcoming. So how are stations going to plan their strategy? Will it be all guns blazing, like it was during the first phase, or will it be a seamless transition to a bigger listener base?
Some stations are planning to go all the way, with a dedicated team running the gig in B and C towns, while others are going the ‘relay programme way’. This means the programming would come wrapped and packaged to suit the towns’ pulse. Honestly, apart from stations increasing the size of their networks, I don’t see many wonders being achieved in this phase of auctioning, unless we start to discover new talents and voices in towns that have never been on the radar till now.
Relaying shows in smaller towns, which have been packaged in the metros, could be a solid misfit on the soundscape. I’m sure that these new towns have individuals who can teach us a few things on the radio—and relaying an entire programming schedule will suppress the talent that can be tapped. Another important question is: what would the salary scale be like? Many stations don’t pay their own very generously in the metros, so what numbers are we talking when it comes to a radio presenter in a smaller town? I’m pretty sure it will be an absurd number.
All said and done, stations need to focus on fresher programming ideas and initiatives, and do away with obsolete formats that don’t make any sense in 2015. There are many questions that need to be answered whilst the third phase becomes a reality. It’s a historic period in FM history and stations should wake up and make the most of it. See you next week with more radio talk!
The writer’s views expressed here are entirely in his personal capacity.