Monday 25 November 2013

Aao Twist Karein (Come, Let’s Twist)

Well, this post is NOT about the Hindi movie ‘Bhoot Bangla’ released in 1965, which featured the popular song ‘Aao Twist Karein’ (come, let’s twist). Instead, it’s about the song’s namesake segment on Radio One 94.3 FM Bangalore (Karnataka, India).

What’s It All About?

The listeners are presented a tongue twister each day (Monday-Saturday) during the evening show between 5:00-9:00 PM, and they have to say it correctly maximum number of times in 10 seconds. As a linguistic exercise, check the number of times you can call out these example tongue twisters in 10 seconds from the evening show; ‘hottie nottie nottie hottie’, ‘a quick witted cricket critic’, or ‘she sells swiss sweets’;-)

How to Play Aao Twist Karein?

Once the Radio Jockey (RJ) introduces the tongue twister of the day, the listeners are prompted to call the station number +91 80 41156 943 to set the record or beat the record of another listener by saying the day’s tongue twister maximum number of times in 10 seconds.

Game Play

The listener who calls in first sets the record for saying the tongue twister maximum number of times. Once the record is set by the first listener, the RJ opens the floor to other listeners to break the current record. The listener, who breaks the record set by the first, second or third listener, wins.

Depending upon the station’s programme clock, it is the RJ’s discretion to set the iterations to two, three, four or more. Example, if the programme clock permits three iterations, the first listener sets the record, the second listener betters the record, and if the third caller to the show is unable to better the current record then the second caller wins. The modus is similar for four or more iterations.

In another variation of the format, a listener who says the tongue twister correctly above a certain number of times in 10 seconds is the winner, thus allowing for more than one winner on the show.

What’s the Prize?

The prize is valued at INR 1,000.00/-

What’s the Big Deal?

I like the way the RJ associates the day’s tongue twister to topical themes. The tongue twister ‘a quick witted cricket critic’, presented on October 23, 2013 coincided with India vs. Australia fourth ODI in Ranchi. Similarly, the tongue twister ‘hottie nottie nottie hottie’, presented on November 19, 2013 coincided with the birthday of former Miss Universe from India, Sushmita Sen.

Advertising Opportunities?

The prize sponsors on this segment are assortments of brands. When I last heard the show it was a mattress brand, earlier the prize sponsor was a cookie brand.

What Next?

I believe it will be more interesting if listeners are allowed to suggest tongue twisters for the show; and if the tongue twister suggested by a listener is selected by the station for the day’s show, the listener who suggests it gets recognized/gratified.

What Else?

In a multilingual and cosmopolitan city such as Bangalore, why the tongue twisters should only be in English? No, the tongue twisters are NOT always in English. The segment is sprinkled with ones in Hindi and occasional tidbits about the state’s native language Kannada. Who can forget the Hindi tongue twister ‘kacha papad, pakka papad’ made famous by Amitabh Bachchan from the bolly movie Yaraana. Incidentally, this twister too was featured on the show on a ‘Wacky Wednesday’ of November 20, 2013.

Please share your valued experience and thoughts, the comments box is just below this line!

Tuesday 15 October 2013

Radio Interactive II - WhatsApp

91.9FM Radio Indigo (Bangalore,India) is one of the stations that spans all the four communication mediums covered in Part I of this post. Though they have retired the short code, their usage of WhatsApp piqued my interest. I searched on internet to find other stations that use WhatsApp for listener engagement. The only relevant result I got was Power98FM (Singapore).

What could be station’s objective in using WhatsApp? I don’t have WhatsApp on my phone and have limited understanding about its functionalities, my initial thought was perhaps it helps the station know the number of unique listeners who have added it to their WhatsApp contacts. It might be a useful metric apart from the listenership numbers to a sponsor. But, the lack of such functionality within WhatsApp brings it at par with SMS (both short code and long code).

So, from numbers perspective, it is of little significance to a sponsor whether the station uses WhatsApp or SMS. Being similar to SMS, the station will know the number of unique listeners who have added it to their WhatsApp contacts only when they respond against an on-air call for action.

A compelling differentiator in favor of WhatsApp is the element of multimedia. One of the contests that I caught on 91.9FM Radio Indigo, required listeners to share their wildest party pictures and the best picture stood a chance to win Party-In-A-Box gift hamper sponsored by JustBake.  To me WhatsApp was the ideal communication medium for this contest. The listener did not have to dial the studio number to share their wildest party experiences with the Radio Jockey (RJ) or send a long text describing their wildest party moments, the picture said it all.

One can argue that the creative solution can always be tweaked to accommodate the station’s dominant communication medium, for example SMS (in the absence of WhatsApp) to engage with listeners. This is an absolutely valid point. But, one has to appreciate that WhatsApp as an additional medium available to the stations helps drive listener engagement in a manner not possible earlier.

More than a year ago, I caught the song Rock On! on 104FM Fever (Bangalore, India). The song bought back memories of my tenure with the music label that owned its rights. I immediately sent an SMS to the RJ. “Hey Darius, I once licensed this song to TV Channels in India.” The next day I get a call from Arjun who was Darius’s show producer and he wanted me to share my nostalgia on-air.

Perhaps there are many such listeners who will have a story to share. Likes of WhatsApp makes this engagement and interaction easy for both the station and the listener. Had it been today, instead of a text, it would be my voice message, “Hey Darius, do you know I once licensed this song to TV Channels in India” and all that Arjun had to do was to appropriately slot the voice message in the program clock.

Do you agree that likes of WhatsApp elevates the station’s engagement and interaction with its listeners? Please share your valued experience and thoughts.

Thursday 10 October 2013

Radio Interactive

It is interesting to note how radio stations employ various communication media to engage listeners in a dialog rather than a one-way broadcaster-to-listener monolog. As a listener, I have attempted to rank the current communication media employed by the stations on four parameters. There could be additional parameters (or even additional communication media), which I might have missed in this post. I’ll be glad if you can point out those.

It is important to define ‘dialog’. I’ll stick to the definition contextual to the terrestrial radio broadcast: “Call for action solicited from the listener on a linear timeline synchronous with the terrestrial broadcast of the radio station”. This essentially means listener interaction sought on-air either by the Radio Jockey (RJ) or through an interactive advertisement with a definite start and end time during the segment/program broadcast. For example, “Guess the Property Price”, a contesting segment. This does not include off-air interaction such as listener comments on the social media or web presence of the radio station.

Phone Call
Short Code
Long Code
Low (Nil)
High (Yes)
Low (Nil)
Low (Nil)

Example, the RJ requests the listeners to share their happiest memories from school days by:

Phone Call: calling (080) 4115 6943
Short Code: texting on 53650
Long Code: texting on 9986 104 104
WhatsApp: sending their school photos on WhatsApp

Cost: Amongst the four listed communication media, short code bears the maximum charge to the listener as it is usually a premium priced SMS. Cost of other three depends on the voice/data tariff plan listeners have with their communication service provider.

Immediacy: Ability provided by the communication medium to get across the listener’s response against a call for action in the least number of attempts with minimum effort. My personal experience as a listener is reaching the radio station over a phone call is the most difficult.  

Recall: Ability of the listener to remember the number to call/message the radio station.

Acknowledgement: The response text (Push SMS) received by the listener against the SMS sent to a short code. For example, ‘Thanks for texting your favorite radio station. Keep tuned in for great music’.

As I write this paragraph, the above text seems obvious and elementary, for the simple reason that terrestrial radio is the only broadcast medium that is still analog. Progressing on its target to a complete switch over to digital mode by year 2017, on September 24, 2013, the state broadcaster, All India Radio issued a tender to acquire 800 Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) (a digital radio standard) General Purpose Receivers. Will digital radio change the mode and manner of dialog between the radio station and its listeners?

So what do you think? Please share your valued experience and thoughts, the comments box is just below this line :-)

Saturday 5 October 2013

Guess the Property Price

I bumped into the radio ads of the three real estate portals in the month of September 2013. Switching stations during commercial breaks did not help escape these ads. The two of them that grabbed my attention were 99 acres and IndiaProperty. 99acres was about 99 property tips with each ad unit being a knowledge nugget for property investors, whereas IndiaProperty took an advergaming route. 

What’s it all about?

Indiaproperty’s ad urged the listeners if life is about guessing one thing or the other, than why not guess the price of a property in the advergame, ‘Guess the Property Price’, hosted exclusively on Fever 104 FM Bangalore (Karnataka, India).

How to play Guess the Property Price?

The listeners register by texting, FEVER<space><Their Name> to 9986 104 104

Game Play

Two listeners are chosen by the Radio Jockey (RJ) and are pitted against each other on-air. The RJ introduces both the participants to the listeners and starts the game by describing the property. The property elements described by the RJ are, name of the builder/developer, name of the property, location, size of the dwelling unit (for example, 2BHK having an area of 1260 square feet) and amenities.  The first participant takes a shot at guessing the price followed by the second participant. The RJ gives the option to the first participant to revise the guess followed by the second participant. The RJ then reveals the property price and the participant whose guess is closest to the actual price, wins the game.

What’s the Prize?

The prize is valued at INR 1,000.00/-

What’s the big deal?

The number of Google search results against the query ‘Guess the Property Price’ suggests that the idea is beaten to death. However, I did not come across any webpage, which suggested radio as a medium for the game. So is it a first on radio, perhaps not.

Circa 2004, my pitch to brands while suggesting them advergaming solutions from a pioneering advergaming portal of India ( was, ‘if it is just an ad in a medium, the time spent with the brand equals the duration of the spot or length of the copy, but turn the communication into a game, and you have an engaged, sticky audience. Unleash the intrinsic gamer within your target audience’. The big deal is perhaps this insight used by IndiaProperty.

I can speak for myself, though I was not at all interested in the property being described by the RJ or had any intention of buying it, but I can still recall name of the property and its price. It’s not bad given the fact that it has been over two weeks since I first heard about the property on the advergame.

Advertising opportunities?

The segment is sponsored by

What next?

I believe it will be more interesting if an additional winner is chosen from the listeners who do not make it on-air, but have texted the right answer before the price reveal by the RJ.

What else?

Mentioned above is what met the ‘ear’. What intrigues me is:

Who pays whom, – Is it co-op advertising? Can one assume that a part of the campaign budget is booted by the builders/developers whose projects feature in the daily question? This also begs a related question—who sponsors the prizes— or the builder/developer whose property is featured in the daily question.

The choice of property in the daily question, – What is the criterion of picking up a specific property to feature in the daily question? Is it the past campaign of the project on this station? Or is it the properties from builders/developers who have committed good advertising dollars to get a featured listing on

So what do you think? Please share your valued experience and thoughts, the comments box is just below this line :-)

Wednesday 2 October 2013

Don Ka Dance Bar

It was one of those days (October 8, 2012 to be precise), when I had this fleeting moment of self-actualization with a voice (the same as they use in Big Boss!) in my head questioning the merit of professional education when all I was doing was churning out files in different formats of MS Office!

It was this beautiful and chirpy voice of Sriranjani that uplifted my mood and bought me back to the realization that ‘Yes…MS Office is the way to go…it rocks!’ She sang me:

Himashuji zara dheere chalo, B.E. Kiya MBA Kiya, Padhne se kya faayda…takea listen on Sound Cloud for the full song.

What is it all about? 
In my earlier post Supari, I mentioned that the evening show on Fever 104 FM Bangalore is all about the elements of a Bollywood Don. Sriranjani’s song and dance sequence is the segment Don Ka Dance Bar on RJ Darius’s evening show D Company (Mon – Fri, 5:00 pm – 9:00 pm).

How to enter the Don Ka Dance Bar?

Listener sends an SMS to 9986104104 with a witty message that gets the attention of the Don…

And if the Don likes the message, the listener gets a call from Don’s show producer and in-house Dance Bar singer, Sriranjani. She asks the listener about what she should include from the listeners life in the personalized song she would sing for the listener (in my case it was PowerPoint, self-actualization…). And yes, there you are with a personalized song being sung to you in the most mellifluous of voices…it’s your moment to bath in all that glory with the realization that a city of 8.5 million is able to listen what is being sung for you…you are very much the hero (or heroine) of that moment.

What’s the big deal?

Do you remember, when it used to be your buddy’s birthday, you could SMS the radio jockey with your pal’s number and birth date and your pal gets his/her birthday surprise with someone from the radio station singing a Happy Birthday song for your pal. Well Dance Bar is not the same thing. It differs. One, it’s all about you, whether you want to be in the Dance Bar or not, is up to you. No proxies here…if you want to be in, it’s you who sends the SMS for your own self. Two, unlike Birthdays, Dance Bar is all about both happy and not so happy days; it need not be your happy day to request entry in the Dance Bar.

Advertising opportunities

I don’t recall if it was a sponsored segment.

What next?

I believe the segment is now retired. May 31, 2013 was the last working day of Sriranjani at Fever 104 FMBangalore. I was twice lucky on this segment and the second time around (May 10, 2013) she sang me a song befitting the monsoons. Take  a listen on SoundCloud for the full song. 

It was RJ Sindhu who kept the segment alive for some time post Sriranjani’s movement from Fever 104 FMBangalore. If the segment is retired, why write about it now? Well, couple of days back I caught the ad of a memory storage cards brand on television which bought back past ‘memories’. You’ll be asking, what’s the connection?

When I first entered the Dance Bar, I remember writing to RJ Darius with a suggestion to create a personalized tangible for the non-tangible on-air experience. The idea was to provide the listener with a Fever 104 FM branded USB stick of their personalized song. The sponsor I had in mind was a memory storage card brand. The suggestion did not make a dent, because I do not remember any memory storage card brand sponsoring the Dance Bar segment.

You can take a listen of Sriranjani’s Dance Bar personalized songs on her Sound Cloud Channel. 

Sunday 29 September 2013

What’s behind the weaving of a film song in the storyboard of an advertisement? – Part 5

When I wrote the four (04) part series, What’s behind the weaving of a film song in the storyboard of an advertisement? (click here to read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4 of this post), it was about how a music label should pitch its catalogue to the brands and the creative agencies. The segment I overlooked was the media owners, especially radio. The realization came after I heard two ads on radio, which have a film song weaved in their story board.

Brand: Krishna Mystiq (Real Estate)
Song Utilized: Kya Dekhte Ho (Qurbani, 1980)
Song Element: Tune (Publishing License)
Media Vehicle: Radio
Station: Fever 104 FM, Bangalore (Karanataka), India
Date/Time: September 24, 2013 / 18:50 Hrs – 18:55 Hrs

Brand: Vishal Megamart (Retail)
Song Utilized: Mar Jawan (Fashion,2008)
Song Element: Music (Sound Recording & Publishing License)
Media Vehicle: Radio
Station: Fever 104 FM, Bangalore, India
Date/Time: September 18, 2013 / 19:30 Hrs – 19: 35 Hrs

I believe that not all brands/clients are inclined to spend a part of their budget on an agency to get the ad created, one of the reason is they would rather allocate the entire budget on building reach and frequency, i.e. on buying the mass media (in this case, radio). These would be direct clients (not through an agency) and depending upon the mechanics employed to sell the media plan, it might be the creative solutions team of the radio station that creates the ad for the client. The station either does it gratis (because a bigger chunk of the media budget is spent on the station or it is the only station to get the client’s entire budget) or perhaps for a lesser fee than what an agency will charge to the client. 

As radio is a localized media, the ratio of local to national advertising on it is approximately 60:40 (this statistic pertains to India. I remember it from a newspaper report of 2011). For a music label, it makes sense to pitch its catalogue to the radio station for utilization in the ads created by the station for its direct clients. But, music labels should also realize that the budgets for a local campaign are not in the same league as a national campaign. If the radio’s creative solutions team decides to obtain the synchronization license from the music label for its client’s ad, it is an additional cost borne by radio’s client. 

The key for the music label is to strike a right balance between what it will charge for granting the synchronization license to a national versus a local campaign. One cannot score a six of each ball; it is the singles that keep the scoreboard ticking!

Tuesday 24 September 2013

An Indigo Birthday

It was either July or August of 2006. I was working with Reliance Communications (RCOM) in Mumbai. I was part of the team that took care of commercial/legal negotiations with organizations, desirous of opening their mobile short code on the RCOM network.

I don’t know if Jagadeesh M R, from Indigo Mass Communications Private Limited is reading this post and if he is, whether he will be able to recall those few mail exchanges we had to formalize the Agreement between RCOM and Indigo Mass Communications Pvt. Ltd. for its mobile short code 2919*. For me it was just another short code Agreement amongst many others. I did not know then, that seven years later, in 2013, I will recount my 2006 encounter with Jagadeesh and will be writing about Radio Indigo 91.9 FM (Indigo Mass Communications Pvt. Ltd.). Things sure pan out in unimaginable ways!

Why a walk down the memory lane? I tuned to Radio Indigo 91.9 FM during the week of September 16, 2013 to September 20, 2013, while their seventh birthday celebrations were on. I realized that the short code 2919 has been rested and is now replaced by the long code 9900 100 919.

I also came across the segment ‘Prize Vault’, which was all about sharing the birthday happiness with the listeners. The listener had to be the ninth caller to the number 255 02 919 on the morning show with RJ Michelle and RJ Nathan. The RJ gives them an option to open one of the three vaults by pressing the corresponding number on their phone, i.e. 1 for opening vault one. This is followed by cling and clang of a heavy shiny steel door opening up and the sound of a grand reveal. The RJ tells the listener what’s inside the vault and the listener has the option of claiming or passing the riches of the selected vault in favor of the next vault (greed is good sometimes!). The only condition being that the listener foregoes the goodies of the previous vault in favor of the next vault, even if the next vault turns out to be of a lesser value than the previous vault (greed is not good sometimes!).

The prizes were valued pretty decent. The prize value ranged between INR 1,000 – INR 10,000, that’s what I gathered when I was tuned to Indigo.

The modus to participate in the evening drive show with RJ Sriram was a bit different than the morning show. The listeners had to text their name on 99 00 100 919 and a lucky one got to open the Prize Vault.

For Indigo it was their seventh birthday celebration and for me it was a trip down the memory lane. Here’s wishing Radio Indigo 91.9 FM many more such Happy Birthdays.

*As per the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) order of 2007, all 4 digit short codes had to be prefixed with number 5 and consequently be five digit short codes. I believe that 2919 would have changed to 52919 in 2007. I am a Vodafone customer and did a quick test to check if the short code 52919 is still alive! I chose a random keyword INDIGO and SMSed it to 52919. The response text suggested that the short code 52919 is perhaps retired. The response text read; select longname, password from smstable where longname=’hutch’ and password=’hutch’ Thank you, your message has been registered. Stay tuned to Indigo 91.9 FM. Log on to

Sunday 8 September 2013

RJ Mentions

I know what a RJ Mention is when I hear it. But if I am asked to define it, I can’t. I have heard it on radio, and on occasions I liked how RJ Mentions added value to the spot and made it meaningful to the listener.
Googling did not help find a definition. It provided me links to debate about “should RJ Mentions be regulated”, or network executives who believe “that stations should demand a premium for RJ Mentions” or opinions that “RJ Mentions are not good for listener experience”. Given the fact that this is being debated, eulogized and rubbished, it deserves to be first defined! I will define it simply as:
Mention of a brand when RJ speaks to you. Of course on radio J
The spot I heard was about a business that delivers online trainings. They are named as Like me, if you have heard their spot, it would SOUND to you as For all you know, the ad dollars spent by SIMPLILEARN would be driving traffic to its homophonic (phonetically similar sounding) counterpart SIMPLYLEARN. Scary isn’t it? So what options do these guys have to make the ad dollars count by driving the traffic to the right URL? Not so good three options come to mind:
·         Change their name, which is not a good idea, they can’t rename their business just to do a campaign on radio.
·         Create a spot which emphasizes their name over 50% of the time, which would be an utter waste, as they would rather speak about their work than spell their name.
·         Use a URL shortening service to set up an acronym redirect to their site and spend ad dollars to advertise the short alias than building their brand.
Since this campaign also had RJ Mentions in its media plan, the RJ not only spoke about SIMPLILEARN, but also spelled out the URL for listener benefit and in the process salvaged the ad dollars spent by the brand. If the brand actually paid a premium for the RJ Mention, I’ll say it was money well spent.
Hypothetically, an online brand with homophonic words in its URL would not face such a dilemma while advertising on radio if it is a big spender on visual media (e.g. QUIKR) and uses radio as a supplementary media to increase reach and frequency. But for brands who are yet to grow big on visual spends, do you believe they present an opportunity for radio stations to sell RJ mentions at a premium to them?
I’ll be glad to have your thoughts on this. Please leave your comments.

Sunday 2 June 2013


Broker: Madam, you recently bought a shop in Koramangala.Madam: Yes, I did.
Broker: Madam, you did not pay us the brokerage for the transaction.
Madam: (With a sudden change in the tone and raising the voice) who are you and why should I pay you the brokerage? I don’t even know you and I did not engage any broker for this transaction.
Broker: (In a local accent) Madam, you do not understand the issue. If we are present in a locality, irrespective of whether you engage us or not, you have to pay us the brokerage.
Madam: Look, I don’t follow what you are saying; my husband will speak to you (about to hang up the phone…).
Broker: Madam, don’t hang up the phone on me, if you hang up I’ll do tunak tunak tun ta naa naa in front of your shop.
And…, the conversation goes on for some time before it is cut by Don Darius. Well, the above is a segment called Supari during the evening radio show, D Company (5:00–9:00 pm), which is hosted by RJ Darius on Fever 104FM, Bangalore. RJ Danish is the Broker in the above conversation and a Fever 104FM listener has placed a contract aka Supari (in Bollywood parlance), on the Madam. RJ Danish executes the contract (Supari) as a broker by placing a prank call to the Madam.
RJ Danish is the prankster on the evening show who assumes a different identity each day and executes the contract placed by a listener of Fever 104FM.
As Fever 104FM advertises itself as the Baap of Bollywood and RJ Darius as the Don of Radio, the evening show is all about the elements of a Bollywood Don. Be it Don Ki Sazaa (Fever Googly), Contract Killing (Supari) or Dance Bars (Don Ka Dance Bar).
How to place a Supari?
Listener sends an SMS to 9986104104 with the message SUPARI<space><Name>
After the listener sends an SMS with his/her name, RJ Danish gets in touch with the listener to find who the listener wants to place a Supari on. As I never placed a Supari, I assume RJ Danish would ask the listener additional details for the prank to be played. The details might include Supari’s name, age, gender, any recent event in their lives such as dine-out, a purchase (for example, the conversation between Madam and Broker), a college admission etc.
What’s the big deal?
Playing pranks is not new. It goes by different names on television channels (do you remember Bakra!) and perhaps other radio stations too. In my opinion, RJ Danish has struck a chord with the listeners. On numerous occasions, I have heard Fever 104FM listeners on air that they liked today’s prank. You can check out the pranks by clicking here.
As the call is always cut abruptly by RJ Darius, in one of the shows RJ Darius asked RJ Danish, ”we never get to hear what happens in the end”, and RJ Danish replied “I get abused a little more and then I apologize…”.
Advertising opportunities?
I cannot recall if it is a sponsored segment, so I won’t be able to comment on this topic.
What next?
It would be good to send ‘the subject’ of the Supari a card with Fever 104FM branding on it with a Supari (betelnut) stuck in the middle. The card might say, ‘Someone took out a Supari on me’ and mention the date, time and name of the person who gave the contract! It can also be a digital version of the card that ‘the subject’ can place on his/her social media profile.
Can this content be networked to other Fever 104FM stations, currently in existence or likely to come up in future (Phase III FM expansion)? It is a difficult question for me to answer, I’ll say no. Can this content be syndicated to any other radio station as an interstitial?  Another difficult question, perhaps the answer would depend upon how the station acquiring this content will be able to monetize it. Can this content be monetized in any other manner or squeezed out to gain the maximum advantage? Yes, Telecom Value Added Services is a viable option and is something which Fever did in the past for their show, Gandhi. How about a mobile application which allows the user to play back/forward the repertoire of past Suparis? Folks, I am out of answers now, why don’t you leave your thoughts in the comments box below! We’ll take it offline ;-)