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Radio One on a high with international format

It is one year since it went international in Delhi and Mumbai. Vineet Singh Hukmani, MD & CEO, says the FM station’s strategy to break from the clutter and focus on Medium Reach-High Loyalty-Maximum Engagement has paid off well

BestMediaInfo Bureau | Delhi | February 8, 2013

One year after it broke free from the cluttered space of Bollywood music driven FM stations by upgrading to international music in Delhi and Mumbai, Radio One, which was fighting an uphill task till then, is now on firm ground. Lack of differentiation is the bane of FM stations but Radio One has smartly bucked the trend.

The station’s strategy to focus on Medium Reach-High Loyalty-Maximum Engagement has paid off well. With the transformed business model the channel claims to be back in the black, churning out profit riding on the lowest cost-highest margin formula while at the same time provides a differentiated content to listeners in seven cities.               .

Vineet Singh Hukmani

 “Clients and media agencies are very satisfied with the response that our international and Indian stations generate from a more educated and highly profiled audience. Our SMS count from listeners has gone up by almost 10 times and our responses on Twitter have grown exponentially,” Vineet Singh Hukmani, MD & CEO, Radio One, told

The station claims it has a loyal listenership of 9 million in the two cities, which is easily 25-28 per cent of the total base of Bollywood stations and that too without any duplicity due to its highly differentiated format. According to IRS Q3 2012, the station has the large share of educated and more premium audiences in both Delhi and Mumbai. Radio One has 21 per cent of reach share in each of these two markets among SEC A 12+ and 20 per cent reach share among SEC AB 12+. The station reaches 19 per cent of the audience in both the cities among all 12+ audiences. All this is helping Radio one to get premium advertisers on board.

“We offered a unique and well profiled audience to the advertiser compared to a hazy mass that other radio stations offer. Other radio stations have a huge spillover to non-relevant lower SEC groups. We have grown exponentially in operating profit primarily due to our excellent on-air value generation against an industry that sells ‘discounted activation add-ons’. Our EBIDTA margin is over 45 per cent of our revenue which is the highest in the industry,” Hukmani added.

But despite the winning formula of upgrading to international, Radio One has no plans to do the same in the other five cities where it is present. “We have created a differentiated position for ourselves in all seven cities. We will differentiate as the local environment demands and not be in a hurry to create an international template,” Hukmani said.

Radio One is not alone in the English radio market in Delhi as there are the likes of HIT FM which also have a niche positioning. However, Radio One claims that is has a huge reach and listenership base compared to the other niche channels. “We don’t compete with HIT 95. We are a network of seven stations reaching 13 million people and HIT 95 is a super-niche music station in one city reaching about 7.5 lakh people. In our two international cities of Mumbai and Delhi alone, our weekly cume reach is 9 million people. This is because we cater to mature audience interests that go beyond just music and delivered by very popular weekday and weekend shows. We are a strong format for English speaking mature Indians while, as per our understanding, HIT 95 is a small but well run ‘niche English music station’ catering to very young adults/teenagers.  Our host potency lasts throughout the day and even weekends whereas these small English stations at best cater to 1-2 hours with one host. We compete with the larger networks as we always have been doing as a company,” Hukmani said.

Elaborating on the programming format, Hukmani said, “Every week night we have the ‘Music Express’ show with Teejay Sidhu from 10 PM to 1 AM where Mondays are for Retro Pop, Tuesdays for Love songs, Wednesdays for Rock, Thursdays for Indian Bands, Fridays for Hiphop and RnB, Saturdays we have EDM and Dance with Nikhil Chinappa, and on Sundays there is Blues with Brian Tellis. So we pretty much cover all the prime genres of international music. Our weekdays are extremely well formatted to cater to both 70-90s Music loving audience in the breakfast day-part and 1995-2013 music in the evening drive day-part. The 12-5 PM daily timeband is 100 per cent for requests which again caters to any need the audience has. We are mature infotainment for the English speaking Delhiite and Mumbaikar, and mind you there are more than 15 million of them in just the two cities who read English dailies.”

On content innovations, the station has left no stone unturned to ensure maximum audience engagements as it created many innovative segments – both music and non-music – that allow a huge connect with the audience. “We give real estate buying and financing tips by Mandira Bedi. Our listeners chose the highest achievers in India, both male and female, under the programme ‘Women of Gold’ and ‘Men of Steel’, both presented by Kabir Bedi. We do road trip shows with Gul Panag. We have had over 300 guests daily in our breakfast shows in 365 days and these celebrities have not been from Bollywood but from all the other walks of life like business, sport, arts, literary, non-film music, NGOs, society spokespersons. Even the large number of Bollywood celebs that have been interviewed on Radio One have been treated as normal English speaking Indians on our station and our listeners have loved that down to earth, no hype attitude,” said Hukmani.

About its expansion plans, Radio One would like to have a few more big cities on its list. How soon that would happen depends on the opening of the phase three licensing.

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