What really works for the medium? This is still an unanswered question for many stations that are quite comfortable shooting in the dark. You often hear of stations going to town about the ‘new book of radio religion’ that we listeners must follow. But what happens next is often a disappointment. The reason for this is that nothing is home grown. Many stations believe that this is a cut-and-paste industry, which is not the case as what works for a successful radio unit in one area might not be applicable for its counterpart.
When you look at the countless regional stations that have lit up the radio skyline all over the country, you will observe that there is very little that differentiates them. However, radio units will deny it and come up with incredible stories: for example, “the entire Mumbai city listens to our breakfast show” or “our listeners weep when they don’t hear their evening host” and sometimes “our station provides 3D entertainment like none other”. When you are confronted with such theories you obviously start feeling like a fifth grader in a Stephen Hawking’s class.
I took a look at the money that companies have put in to buy a radio license. It gives us the false hope that if a radio station has spent `250 crore to buy themselves a frequency, then obviously some path-breaking ideas and sounds will reach our ears. That said, the stations that have already made their presence felt are far from path breaking. Just in case history repeats itself, buying a license that’s reached a bid this expensive would be like buying an old Premier Padmini for the cost of a Rolls Royce Phantom.
Why do radio stations sound awesome when they are on test transmission? Simple. It’s uninterrupted back-to-back music. You like it because you are not forced to hear programming ideas that are a figment of one’s imagination or be put through marketing initiatives, not to forget voices that lack the personality. One thing every station should learn: keep it simple and don’t try too hard. See you next week.
The writer’s views expressed here are entirely in his personal capacity.