Wednesday 30 May 2012

Crude Shock!

The crude shock of hike in petrol prices by approximately INR 8.00/- hit at 00:00 Hrs on 24th May 2012, when it came into effect. Radio, a hyper local medium with its eardrums close to the ground, picked upon this theme and made me appreciate this medium…all over again. Radio has an uncanny ability to drape and color itself with local themes and engage its listeners. So, this is how the contests looked like on 24th May 2012.

94.3FM Radio One, Bangalore (Karnataka, India)
Who Said to Whom?
If you are wondering what this contest is all about, check out my earlier post, Pappu Pass Ho Gaya.
MJ Shilpa played a clip from the film Kal Ho Na Ho in which Aman Mathur (played by Shah Rukh Khan) tells his mother (played by Reema Lagoo) that he does not want to die.
The best part comes here…the RJ says that the petrol hike has even killed our bolly stars…that’s hilarious…J, I liked how a routine contest plug in the segment was mould into the theme of petrol price hike. It was not only this contest, the overall theme of the RJ talk revolved around petrol price hike.
Maximum Lies!
MJ Shilpa told three points related to petrol prices and Bangalore (I appreciate how Bangalore as a city was woven into this contest…that’s what I call local). The first point was, the prices have been hiked by approximately INR 8.00/-; second point was, Bangalore has the highest prices for petrol in India and the third point was, before the price hike per liter cost of petrol in Bangalore was INR 82.00/-.
No prizes for getting the right answer…I did not get one L…OK hold on…the third point was a lie.
However the gratification for the two contests was not aligned to the theme of the contest. Gratification for Who Said to Whom was a couple dinner voucher (OK, I admit…its closer to fuel…after all food is fuel for homo sapiensJ) and for Maximum Lies it was beauty treatment vouchers valued at INR 7,500/- (hmm…the same value in cash would have bought at least 90 liters of petrol! and cushioned the effect of price hike…but think about it…if you look beautiful chances are you’ll be offered a ride…thus you save fuel!)
104FM Radio One, Bangalore (Karnataka, India)
Later in the day when I tuned to Fever Flashback @ 9:00 PM hosted by RJ Rubina…I could smell the petrol! One had to guess the name of the music director whose birthday was being celebrated by the station. The clue was the songs played by the station composed by this music director. Well, it was Rajesh Roshan’s Birthday on 24th May 2012. And you know what was the gratification…petrol vouchers worth…INR 1,000/-  !!!
I was late to answer, my answer text missed the target, but opportunity came again…the listeners were given a second chance, but this time it was tough…they had to call 44104104/text 9986104104 citing reason why they deserve to win the petrol voucher.
Here’s the sad part and I lived the idiom slip between the lip and the cup. I texted Rubina with the message…I own a two wheeler, therefore,  I’ll be able to squeeze the maximum value out of the voucher compared to car owners and the voucher will take care of my whole month’s fuel expenses.
Guess what…my text was selected by Rubina and I had to say the same thing on-air…but that’s when the Vodafone doggy ditched me…I was on the Bangalore Elevated Tollway Ltd (BETL) road going towards Silk Board…when the signal got lost…shock after shock! Crude shock followed by signal shock!
What happened…she picked up another winner!
But what I liked was, she called me back after sometime to console and wished better luck next time, this upped my Happiness Index (which otherwise was dipped by the hike in fuel prices)!
Given my terrestrial and language limitations (I cannot appreciate the radio content played in non-Hindi or English language and since am based in Bangalore, I do not know what radio folks are doing in say Chennai or Mumbai!), I was curious to know what other FM stations are playing on the petrol hike theme. Long live google! Here’s a brief glimpse.
92.7FM BIG FM, Mumbai (Maharashtra, India)
Listeners answer questions related to petrol, inflation and other such topics to win petrol vouchers worth Rs 927/-. Click here for a lowdown on this story.
98.3FM Radio Mirchi, Mumbai (Maharashtra, India)
Radio Mirchi gave away bicycles to lucky listeners for an easier, better and eco-friendly commute. Click here for a lowdown on this story.
So, what do I think?
On the dimensions of relevance of the theme to the contest format, gratification and user engagement/interactivity, I’ll order it as Radio Mirchi, Fever, Big and Radio One. To preempt criticism of my opinion, please understand this is what I feel and is my opinion, you are free to express yours…nothing more nothing less…have fun.
Before I conclude, lady luck has shown her benevolence once again and I’ll let you know how and where I got to watch the DLF IPL Finals on 27th May 2012.
Keep tuned!

Wednesday 23 May 2012

Pappu Pass Ho Gaya!

Over time I have realized that listening to radio is nothing short of a stroll in a busy marketplace. Akin to how merchants change the wares displayed in shop windows in line with the season, festival or other topical themes, same happens in radio or for that matter on any other media. The programming wears the skin of the season and the same merchants descend on mass media singing virtues about how their wares are flavor of the season.
Listening to a segment on radio station 94.3FM Radio One, I realized that it’s been over a decade since I passed my 12th Standard Examinations. MJ Shilpa hosts the segment from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM and prompts her listeners to participate in two exciting contests during this period. Well what are these two contests…?
Maximum Lyrics: Listeners are played a short clip of a popular Bollywood song with part of it muted. The listeners have to text the muted lyrics to win goodies.
Maximum Lies: Listeners are told three points about a Bollywood flick, viz actor, actress…or anything that is Bolly! One of the three statements told by MJ Shilpa is false. The listeners have to text which statement was false, 1st, 2nd or 3rd to win goodies.
Today when I tuned to this segment, both the contests were woven around the theme of exams. Why? Well, today Karnataka Pre-University board announced the 12th Standard Examination Results! So instead of Maximum Lyrics, todays first contest was about Who said to whom, wherein a short dialogue was played from a film and the listener had to text who said this dialogue to whom and the name of the movie. The dialogue was from the movie Munnabhai MBBS in which Munna (played by Sanjay Dutt) tells Dr Suman (played by Gracy Singh) that he has topped the exam!
The second contest Maximum Lies was about three points from the story of the movie 3 Idiots. 3 Idiots was based on the concept of unforgiving nature of the education system and society towards failures and non-conformists.
With almost a third of FM listenership contributed by 12 – 19 and 20 – 24 years old, and education being among the top advertisers on radio, no doubt, it’s an important segment to cater to. Last night on another radio station 104FM Fever, I liked Darius saying, “no matter what’s the result, you still have another 60 years of life ahead of you, so don’t do anything drastic…exam results are not the end of the world”.
So, I brace myself for an advertising spree, offers from youth fashion retailers giving discounts equivalent to the marks one has scored, chocolatiers urging to have some meetha (sweet)…uff!

Wednesday 16 May 2012

Bollywood Bingo!

Contesting is in the air, especially after my earlier posts Piggy Bank of Ideas and 15 Minutes of Fame…Reloaded! I have been observing…oops listening to contests (and participating too…) on this radio station, 94.3FM Radio One (Bangalore) which won me a handful of goodies. On 14th May 2012, on the birthday of yesteryears Bollywood actress Waheeda Rehman, 94.3FM Radio One kicked off a new game show BOLLYWOOD BINGO anchored by MJ Pavithra.

What’s the Concept?
Sometime in late March/early April 2012, 94.3FM Radio One called out its listeners to be a part of Listener Audience Bureau (LAB). As mentioned by MJ Pavithra, the idea of Bollywood Bingo, a music based game show came from LAB.
What’s the Name?
Haven’t I revealed it already? To recap, it’s BOLLYWOOD BINGO. One may also choose to call it MUSICAL TAMBOLA, BOLLYWOOD TAMBOLA or BOLLYWOOD HOUSIE.
How to Play?
Similar to a game of Bingo or Housie in which players mark off numbers on cards/printed tickets, as the numbers are drawn randomly by a caller and won by marking off all the numbers on the printed ticket,  Bollywood Bingo is played in the same manner. The Bollywood Bingo ticket can be obtained by sending a SMS to 53650. The call flow is:
Listener sends an SMS to 53650 with the message BINGO<space><Name>
Listener receives the BINGO ticket which reads as (example): BINGO 14-5-2012 18:33 1)London Paris New Y 2)Mitti Bol 3)Chammak Challo 4)Anarkali Disco Ch 5)Ajooba 6)Mudhi Mudhi Ittefa
14-5-2012, indicates that the ticket is valid for the show on 14th May 2012 and 18:33 is the time of issue of the ticket. Serial numbers 1, 2, 3…6 are the songs from Bollywood movies.
Game Play!
Once you have the ticket, you are set for the game. You have to listen to 94.3FM Radio One and as soon as the song that’s mentioned in your ticket is played by MJ Pavithra, you mark off that song on your ticket. Once all the songs on the ticket have been played on-air, you win, or else you don’t. The show airs from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM, Monday to Friday. The show started on 14th May 2012 and will be on up to 1st June 2012. Only those songs that are played between 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM are to be marked off on the ticket. If 5 songs mentioned on the ticket are aired between 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM and the sixth song is played at 8:05 PM, you won’t win.
One can claim the tickets up to 7:30 PM. Tickets that are claimed post 07:30 PM are eligible for next day’s game. Now you know why the tickets are stamped with date and time! One can claim multiple tickets to increase the chance of winning, but remember, SMSes to 53650 are charged at INR 3.00/-
One concern that I had when I bought the ticket was, “gosh…I now have to be glued to the radio else I won’t know what songs have been played when I was not listening to it between 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM”. The good thing about the show is that in each commercial break MJ Pavithra gives a recap of all the songs that have been played before that break. To break the monotony, aided by her BINGO software that tells her how many songs have been played out from each ticket, she puts the listeners, who await just 3 or 2 more songs to completely mark off all the songs on the ticket, on air.
What’s the Prize?
One winner each day gets Gold Vouchers worth INR 2000/- redeemable at Abaran.
So, what do I think?
I think it’s a good contest which increases time spent listening 94.3FM Radio One. For the sponsor, Abaran, it ensures that the store gets sampled by the listeners of Radio One when they go to redeem their vouchers. Abaran has been an advertiser on Radio One and vide this contest; the station generates tangible real time data (by way of number of SMSes received) to share with the sponsor. 
I would have appreciated if the station had put info on this segment on their website or social media, listing daily winners and songs played between 6:00 PM – 8:00 each day Monday to Friday from 14th May 2012 to 1st June 2012. This would relieve the listener to be stuck to a single station, but isn’t that the idea of the contest, increase time spent listening?
So what do you think? What’s your idea of a Bollywood Music Based show that engages the listener? Share your thoughts and wisdom, the comments box is just below this line J

Thursday 10 May 2012

First Birthday…

Time surely flies by! Just last week I realized that this blog’s anniversary is due on 10th May 2012. The very reason this 1st Anniversary post is going up is YOU, had it not been your kind comments, emails and points of view, I would not have been motivated to even notice that it’s been a year of this blog.
I Thank You for the time you took to read my posts and share your comments even when you yourselves are masters of your respective domains.
The occasion necessitates a first on this blog, so rather than my, I present you thoughts from across the border from one of the readers of this blog.
***cuing music and drumrolls***
Presenting, Paul Chantler, who tells us today how to grow the pizzazz. The post Growing the Pizzazz is written by Paul, and is the 1st guest post on the 1st anniversary of this blog. So, whatever you read below are Paul’s words and if you disagree with him even one bit…shoot him on (or if you cannot wait to write an email…quickly type your comments in the comments box)
Happy reading J!
Click here to read the post.

Growing the Pizzazz

by Paul Chantler

The privately-owned radio industry in India has grown enormously in a very short time. In the UK, commercial radio started nearly 40 years ago. In India, the same kind of growth has been compressed into a quarter of that time.
I congratulate the Indian government on its efficiency and enterprise in licensing so many new radio stations so quickly. I know there are hundreds more to come. And of course there is much more to do, both creatively and commercially, in order to exploit radio to its fullest potential.
Traditional radio remains relevant, even in a high-tech digital world full of increasing media choice. As UK newspaper The Guardian wrote recently, “The technology that is fragmenting other audiences and leaving some sectors in the doldrums is also making it easier and more pleasurable to listen to the radio.”
There are many issues that need to be addressed in the shaping of Indian radio in the future – music royalties, cost management, advertiser confidence, multiple formats and the prospect of digital radio. However there is one major issue that sometimes tends to get forgotten in the complexity and confusion of growth: the importance of CONTENT.
It seems to me Indian radio has done a fantastic job over the last few years raising standards and becoming highly professional. The biggest danger is when radio simply becomes a commodity; listeners just push a button and tune to another station when a song they dislike comes on. If radio is to reach a level where listeners are actually loyal to one station instead of flicking between three or four, RJs have to become larger-than-life personalities. In short, they have to become radio stars.
For this, they need tools, techniques and tips which by themselves mean little and seem like small details but when added together take a radio station from one level to the next and a run-of-the-mill RJ from being good to being a star.
Being entertaining and producing great personality content doesn’t just happen by magic. You can’t just let someone get on with it. Sure, you need to identify talent – but you have to put hard work, energy and inspiration into growing that talent.
I always say it takes three years to become an overnight success!
The problem of growing talent is one faced by radio stations all over the world including in developed markets like the UK, US and Australia. Programmers quickly discovered that what goes on between the music is just as important – if not more so – than the music itself. As a consultant, my job is to teach and coach talent. And it’s a vital job that is often overlooked in the rush to grow.
Apart  from star RJs, there’s also another aspect of content that is important to cement listener loyalty to your station: creative and imaginative ideas.
Advertisers just love new ideas. If sales professionals can bring their client fun, fresh and exciting ideas for promotions, they’re more likely to win the business. In the UK and US, the selling of sponsorship and promotions linked to contests and features are one of the biggest growing parts of radio sales. Increasingly, advertisers are looking for more than just a 30-second commercial.
My company Radio Ideas Bank specialises in helping radio stations find tried-and-tested contest and promotion ideas for use on and off air which can generate revenue by being sold to advertisers. We have a searchable database of hundreds of ideas for competitions and stunts that can be used not only on air but also online to enhance radio station websites.
So, content is the lifeblood of radio and the secret to its longevity. Listening to stations in many parts of the world, it seems to me that some have lost their creative spark. Don’t let that happen in India. Radio should never become a commodity. Listener loyalty needs to be earned for true long-term growth. Build stations that ‘sparkle’ and that create talkability from star RJs and drive revenue from fun, imaginative promotions.
In short, grow the pizzazz!
Paul Chantler is a radio programming consultant working in the UK, Europe and India with 30 years experience. He is also the founder of Radio Ideas Bank which has registered users and subscribers in more than 30 countries.

Friday 4 May 2012

Piggy Bank of Ideas

When I blogged my earlier post Radio Jockey Talk and Listener Engagement Formats, I did not know that someone in UK is diligently collating tried-and-tested ideas for radio contests, promotions and stunts from around the world to help radio sales and promotions professionals generate more revenue, until I chanced upon Radio Ideas Bank. is the brainchild of three highly experienced radio professionals Paul Chantler, Eddie Startup and Debbie Tighe who among them have over 85 years of Radio Industry experience spanning programming, promotions and sales.
Being intrigued by this business of selling contest/promotion ideas for radio stations and clients of these radio stations, I caught up with Paul Chantler (PC) to find out if it really works, what’s the moolah involved and whether they intend to be a format factory for radio akin to Endemol, Freemantle, Celador etc.
Here is a glimpse of my Q&A with PC.
In a nutshell, can you tell us what Radio Ideas Bank does?
[PC] We help radio sales professionals generate more revenue by helping them find contests and promotions they can sell to their clients. We currently have users in more than 30 countries including the UK, US, Canada, Europe, South Africa, South America and Australia.
The proof of the pudding is in the eating…, how a buyer will ensure that the pudding was not baked by someone else but only by Radio Ideas Bank (RIB). There may be a situation where an idea bought from RIB would have been used earlier by a local station in a market, thus exposing the station to the risk of IP violation.
[PC] The concept of the RIB site is that the tried-and-tested ideas from around the world are collected at one place on one database, searchable by occasion or client category. This makes it easy for the sales people to tap into a wealth of creative ideas and match them to their advertisers. Unfortunately, we have no way of knowing whether an idea from RIB has been used by another station in a particular market; the people who use the site are experts in their own markets and audiences and we'd expect them to research their own rivals. Interestingly, many stations have no problem running the same or similar promotions to their rivals! For example, the two biggest commercial stations in London (Heart and Magic) both run an almost identical Mystery Voice contest (it's the one used as an example on our site) without any legal problems. The reality is that it is very difficult to protect an idea legally and even more difficult to take an action if someone copies an idea.
How is it ensured that the ideas are mutually exclusive i.e. if someone buys 15 ideas, is he/she assured that all the 15 ideas are unique and not variations of one another. Objectives of a station or a client will always be the same… say AQH, TSL, Cume for a radio station and increased sales, trials, footfalls and enquiries for a client?
[PC] The best way for people to use RIB is to sign up for a discounted quarterly or annual subscription. This means they're supplied with enough credits to browse the site properly and choose ideas 'on spec', paid for as part of their package, with the risk some may be unsuitable for whatever reason. If a client chooses to buy ideas singularly, they have to pay £15 for each idea (when they choose it and download it). Our business model is based around a paywall. If we were to allow free access to the site and ask people to pay only when they find the exact idea they like by viewing the details in their entirety, it's unlikely that they would pay and we wouldn't have a business! We try and avoid 'duplicate' ideas on the site wherever we can, although there are some variants of popular classic ideas such as the aforementioned Mystery Voices. By the way, in addition to the majority of the ideas on the site - which are collected and showcased as those which have been used successfully by stations around the world - from 3rd May 2012, we have introduced a monthly selection of new and original ideas which we have created from scratch. We want to invest in fresh content and add more of these ideas over the coming months to run alongside the tried-and-tested ideas.
Are you moving towards a crowd sourcing model, wherein the idea submitted by a user if sold by RIB, earns the contributor a certain percentage of the sale amount?
[PC] At this stage, we have no plans to introduce a crowd-sourcing model. Though we had considered it and may look at it again later.
Is RIB the Freemantle, Endemol, Celador…of radio? Do you guys also own proprietary formats akin to television say American Idol, or Got Talent or Who Wants to be a Millionaire…why aren’t there any such formats ‘players’ on radio? Is it on the radar of RIB for future consideration or is such a format not possible at all?
[PC] We don't own - or plan to own - any proprietary contest formats. There have been several attempts over the years to replicate contest or promotion format selling to radio stations as happens in television. However, I believe that in the current economic climate, radio stations have limited budgets to spend on 'buying in' showcase promotions and contests. These things can cost thousands of dollars. This is why I set up Radio Ideas Bank: to enable sales people (and programmers) to select, choose and implement their own (smaller) contest ideas and then go and sell them to an advertiser. For information, one of our subscribers in the UK has been using us for more than a year now, and, for the price of their annual subscription package of £1,200, they have brought in business worth many thousands of pounds by selling ideas they have found on the site to their advertisers. You can see their testimonial on the ‘What's New’ section of our website.
What are the future plans of RIB, how do you plan to scale? Are there any plans for the Indian market?
[PC] There is demand for contest and promotion ideas from radio markets all over the world. I have some experience of the Indian market having worked as a programming consultant and trainer for a number of groups over the last six years. I think RIB would work very well in India. All advertisers like new ideas and we’re a way of allowing Indian radio sales professionals to bring their clients ideas which have worked well elsewhere and can be adapted for the Indian market. As a startup company, we’re also seeking investment to take us to the next level of development and we’d love to welcome an Indian partner on board.
The skyline of the Indian radio market is undergoing lot of changes. The third phase of FM license auctions is almost knocking at the doors, the regulatory body TRAI has recommended a minimum channel spacing from 800 Khz to 400 Khz, there are issues of music royalties, cost management, advertiser confidence in radio and subsequent spends, cost management, etc. Also, with upcoming Phase III FM license auctions, having ownership of multiple frequencies in a city will be possible, thus providing the network to have different formats of radio which currently are primarily CHR with some exceptions of Talk or International music. As I blogged earlier, will we see Digital Radio happening in India anytime soon or how far away it is from India. These are some of the thoughts that occupy the mind space of a CEO running a radio station/network. Given your experience and expertise in Radio, what advice will you give to the leaders of these stations? I am sure, these are a lot and it may not be possible for you to do justice to these questions in favor of brevity, can I expect a guest post on this blog covering these aspects and your suggestions for the CEO of a radio station/network?
[PC] Yes, why not, I’ll be happy to write a guest post covering the aspects touched upon by you.
Thanks Paul, it was a pleasure having you on and I am sure, the readers of this post will look forward to some great insights from you in your guest post.
If you have questions for Paul, you can put them as comments on this post and rest assured he’ll respond soon or you can reach out directly to him on