[Exclusive Interview Of Ashit Kukian, CEO, Radio City] This Is How Radio City Aims To Disrupt Entertainment Industry
Radio City is one of the most renowned FM brands in India, having a glorious 21 years of existence. Recently we caught up with Mr. Ashit Kukian, CEO, Radio City and asked him about the future of FM in India, Radio City’s plans and their disruption strategy.
Here are the highlights from this exclusive interview:
After spending more than a decade in the entertainment and media industry, what’s your take on the future of the radio industry?
The future of the radio industry will be more than just bright as radio continues to be one of the most relevant mediums. As radio has essentially been an audio platform, the way forward for the industry is to integrate digital formats while maintaining its core essence. Digitization in the radio industry has created synergizes between audio and digital to become accessible to a larger set of audience. From collaborations with brand, to digital and programmatic audio spots, the immersive nature of the listenership practice will attract more advertisers to invest in the future of radio.
Soon, RJ influencers will also become primary touch points for brand collaborations not only in metro cities but also Tier 2 and Tier 3 markets. Radio City understands the dynamics of today’s time and has made a seamless jump by entering the digital and social media space at the most apt time. This industry is projecting future growth revenue to come from podcasts, concerts, online events, campaigns, advertiser-funded programs, on-ground activation, influencer marketing, etc.
How do you see FM as an industry evolving in India, amidst stiff competition from podcasts, streaming videos and audio channels and OTTs? Is FM still relevant?
While there are many new content consumption formats available, FM radio is one such medium that offers hyperlocal content to the audience. Radio empowers its listeners by sharing with them daily dose of local and socially relevant information like traffic updates, weather forecast, happenings in your city and much more. It also continues to remain one of the most cost effective platform for advertisers as it allows them to effectively target their messages to the audience and build reach.
As there is an increased inclination towards the adoption of digital across industries, Radio City has been swift to adopt to the changing times by integrating radio with digital. For us, integration is not just limited to mapping our presence across various mediums, but also ensuring that our content remains unique and localized. We have been at the forefront of offering a wholesome package that includes viable content, wholesome music and entertainment on radio as well as on our digital platforms.
Radio City has been the pioneers in this industry, with our properties being the premier entertainment destination across the country. Radio City was the first radio station to embrace digital media eleven years ago with the launch of our online radio station. Our core objective is to continue evolving and staying relevant to our audience by delivering innovative and hyperlocal content on both radio and digital.
What are the new shows and programs that Radio City has planned?
Radio City has developed a strategic roadmap with radio plus digital becoming the way forward. We have been consistently developing various programs and shows that are topical, engaging as well as first-of-their-kind. Our future plan will see a consolidation of Radio City generating content and promoting it on our digital streaming platforms as well as monetizing them across other mediums. These new shows and programs will be a pure combination of high-quality content and captivating interactions with the audience. We have been creating relevant content across all our stations and stepped up to the plate to work vigorously to provide an ideal combination of socially relevant information, entertainment and music.
How has radio advertising evolved over the years? What do the advertisers demand today as ROI from their radio spends?
Radio has always been a powerful channel for advertisers to grab the attention of their audience. Advertisers today seek innovation-based strategy that will allow them to effectively deliver their message to the audience. From branded collaborations to digital and programmatic audio spots, the increasingly immersive nature of the listenership experience is set to attract more advertisers to invest in radio. We at Radio City have been able to understand the advertising requirements of brands and are working incessantly towards offering innovative solutions to our clients across markets. We have always strived to increase our clients’ earning percentage through our offerings. Our objective is to become the finest advertising and creative solutions provider in the industry.
Please tell us more about Radio City Super Singer and what was different in the 13th season owing to the pandemic?
Radio City Super Singer is one of India’s biggest singing talent hunts. Season 13 of Super Singer was grander than ever, as the focus was largely on bringing the best of talent while also proving a high degree of entertainment. The theme of season 13 “Ab lagega singing ka naya dose, Radio City Super Singer 13 par” stayed consistent in providing a unique platform for the country’s most enchanting voices to express their creativity on one of the country’s largest media platforms. Padma Shri Kailash Kher was the judge of the historic property for the second consecutive season. Keeping the pandemic in mind, the last season was remoulded on digital to become a first of its kind virtual finale aired on 26th September, where all the RJs hosted the finale in their digital avatars.
Are you planning any special shows/series on the line of Shark Tanks for promoting and encouraging startups in India?
We have always strived to support Indian entrepreneurs in augmenting their business growth. In fact, in 2020, we launched ‘Radio City Bazaar’, an initiative to promote as well as support existing and emerging homegrown companies in sustaining their business during the pandemic. The campaign was developed and promoted across social media to invite entries from homegrown businesses. The entries were submitted via a registration form on our website or WhatsApp. Radio City Bazaar has been able to successfully on-board over 900 clients in the first year of launch in FY 20-21. In FY 21-22, we have been able to support over 700 businesses so far and will continue to promote homegrown businesses through our initiative.
How do promote and encourage Indie music composers, singers and artists? We are witnessing a massive dip in their exposure on radio and FM these days..
We were the first radio channel to support, encourage, and endorse independent music and artists. Radio City has been providing multiple opportunities to Indie artists to take the center stage and showcase their innate talent to the world.
Our marquee property ‘Radio City Freedom Awards’ promotes new sounds of the new generation with a perfect amalgamation of modern music with a traditional touch through their songs. It is a platform to recognize independent music and provide a launch pad to budding singers.
With the objective of supporting Indie culture, we have 4 Indie web radio (Freedom, Metal, Hip-hop & Electronica) which play 24*7 Indie music. Additionally, we regularly host Indie Jam sessions with the independent artists. Radio City also chooses ‘Artist of the month’ where we put spotlight on one Indie artist month on month. Prior to the pandemic, we used to host an on-ground event ‘Free Verse Sessions’ – open mic event for Poets and Spoken word artist and we aim to restart this activity soon.
How has the audience for FM channels evolved? What are their demands and expectations from you?
In today’s time, the audience has become more hybrid than linear as they have multiple content consumption options. A consumer spends approximately six hours everyday consuming content which was earlier limited to 2-3 hours. Thus, this is an opportunity for us to engage with them not only via the audio medium but also through our digital platform. We have developed diverse new-age digital content such as video reels with RJ’s, podcasts, interview, etc. that are relevant and relatable to evolving audiences.
Radio City has embarked on its digital transformation journey to further refine convergence between digital and audio by extending its marquee radio content on audio streaming platforms. This move has witnessed wide acceptance from the audience as well as advertisers who are now emphasizing branded content features on digital radio and incorporating digital audio into their media plans. We have been working consistently towards establishing a strong digital presence, and our ever-increasing emphasis on the same is expected to bring in more advertising revenue in the future.
How do you plan to integrate Radio & FM with Internet? There are still no dedicated mobile apps for any FM channel, and it seems Youtube is the only way forward?
In recent times, brands are beginning to rebound as the country and people across the world continue to heal from the pandemic. There has been a reasonably strong advertising inclination for the industry, which was clearly reflected in volume consumption and inventory utility. Radio City has continued to flourish as a pioneering force in the Indian radio market, while also expanding our digital capabilities. At Radio City, we are constantly remodeling our processes to stay ahead of the curve and anticipate positive volume consumption in the coming months. We have been actively focusing on both radio and digital as together, they are poised for significant growth.
Radio City offers a vibrant mix of value-added solutions that make considerable economic sense to our advertisers allowing them to deliver apt messages to the audiences through our platform. We have also redefined listeners experience by elevating RJs to become household names and social media influencers, thereby strengthening our digital offerings to tap into a rising online audience. We have been engaging brands through our RJ influencers and have made significant impact in the community and among the followers of these RJs. Our RJ influencers have been playing a significant role in building brand advocacy for multiple brands. Radio City has positively covered broader avenues by harnessing the captive digital space and will continue to leverage new age offerings while upholding the core essence of the business.
What message will you give to radio & FM loyalists in India?
Radio is known to entertain, inspire, and unite people by providing trustworthy information to the listeners. Its history has been reinforced throughout the years by the distinctive content it produces on a consistent basis. Radio as a platform provides a direct emotional connect with the audience allowing them truly associate with their city’s unique propositions. We at Radio City pledge to continue providing socially relevant content along with a daily dose of entertainment to our audience on-air as well as on our digital platforms. Amalgamation of radio with digital is now presenting the greatest possibilities within the world of digital. In today’s time, radio is not confined to just on-air audio content, but has also expanded to online platform and this phenomenon will continue to take center stage in the future.