Radio in India, especially in the last seven years has seen a lot of changes. Innovative programming, unique on-ground productions, embracing the digital space, great and lesser voices and not to forget lower salaries, are all part of the FM juggernaut. However, the listening experience is not about the music or the presenter today. It’s about educating you on retail products and services.
The advertisements that play on any station are like a badly served unlimited meal. From listening to a great tune or maybe even a radio moment, you are suddenly carpet bombed for minutes with information ranging from a sale of stainless steel vessels to a cultural event. Yes, I know it’s these commercials that bring in the salaries, but there should be a way to unclutter.
To add insult to injury, the quality of production of these advertisements (barring a few) is at an all-time low, making you want to tune off. The days of spending time on an advertisement and trying to make it radio-worthy is long gone. Today, it is about slapping on a tune and patching screaming voices at intervals with the punch line and email address attached on the tail of that ten or 20 second ad.
As a listener, we might have the patience to put up with a few radio commercials but 20 or more ads at a stretch is only prompting us to listen to personal playlists on our USBs. A few stations abroad have a strict policy to only have a few minutes of ad-space time. There is a wait-list for advertisers and they sure wait for their turn. NOVA 93.7 PERTH, for instance, had a policy to play only two ads per break till 2010. After that, the station tried to broaden its advertiser base by relaxing its never-more-than-two-ads-in-a-row policy, but still kept the ad breaks minimal. Sirius XM, the largest satellite radio, has a subscriber base of more than 30 million listeners. They market themselves as an ad-free listening experience and also have opportunities for advertising through live reads by A-list talent, segment sponsorship and radio spots on channels that are non satellite-exclusive channels.
Booking an ad spot space in these stations is done months in advance only to ensure that the listening experience remains intact. It will take a while before our radio stations adopt these policies, and when they do, they will stand out in the ever widening radio frequency. The sound of a traffic jam is still more acceptable than what we hear on the breaks.
See you next week with
more radio talk!
The writer’s views expressed here are entirely in his personal capacity.