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Are radio listeners loyal to channels?

Radio channels in India have been on the rise and they are bound to only increase in numbers. If media reports are to be believed it will be as good an explosion as seen in the TV space. Numerous channels, lots of programming, lots of songs playing. But unlike TV, radio I believe does not have a strong brand loyalty.

What attracts a listener to the radio channel – Is it the songs they play, is it the RJ which they love to hear or better still is it the very frequency and number of ads they play? As I notice a common practice among listeners is to flip through the multiple radio channels to see who is playing the best song. You could hang around for a couple of songs, but the moment there is a boring song played you are tempted to move on to the next one to check if something better is playing around there. Something like this happens on TV also but there is a logo to always tell you what channel you were seeing. That’s lost in the case of the radio medium. So is there an effective brand re-call for the channel?

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Another aspect is the addiction to a particular channel because of it’s programming content. Do you switch on the radio every night at 10PM to listen to your RJ, or is radio a pass-time for moments when you are driving or don’t have anything better to do. There maybe a good number who follow a radio channel as religiously a teen would follow programs on his favourite music channels like MTV, Channel V. But are the numbers enough to drive so many channels offering another 100 programs hosted by different RJ’s? Remember you rarely hear repeats telecast on radio.

TV channels have a certain taste in their programming – Matured Audience, Kids programming and so on. I fear radio will not be able to differentiate much. Does the channel bring in a style? Radio Mirchi is hot because it plays the hottest numbers. RED FM is good because they say “Bajate Raho” which which you will keep playing. So what is the differentiator? How does a brand decide which channel should relay my ad? Can time-slot be the only profiling factor?

I believe radio is a strong communication medium, however with the explosion I am not sure how the message can be sent across most effectively. And for that the advertiser has to shell out big bucks to ensure that he is visible across the channels.

What do you think of the future of radio and advertising on radio in India? Your thoughts welcomed in comments.

(Photo courtesy: Al Q)

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