The Anchor: 6 lessons radio can learn from abroad

10 Jan,2012

By Vehrnon Ibrahim


#1 Throw a rock rather than chucking small stones:

Heart FM London went after 25-44 women. About 20 percent of overall available listenership, but in a market where there are 20-odd stations 20 percent is actually a huge opportunity. I like to say it’s like throwing small stones at a target; you will hit it, always no matter how bad your aim is, but never leave an impact. Chuck a well aimed rock at the target and you will destroy it. If the proposal to allow more frequencies in major metros goes through we will hear many different formats of radio as all the new players will want to go up against players who target such wide demos.


#2 Don’t just Post-it, stick to it:

People listen to radio for entertainment and that mostly means music – so why loyalty in a market when everyone is pretty much playing the same music? Promise becomes important. Call it a brand, call it a position, and call it a culture, it’s all about telling the listener what you have to offer and making sure you offer that. K-Earth 101 in LA says “Classic Hits” and that’s all they ever play. So when you tune in you know what you will get.


#3 Don’t be anti-social:

Hitz.FM in Malaysia has a quarter of a million Likes on Facebook. They have cut down dramatically on marketing and messaging spends. Jake Abdulla demonstrated to me by posting a message which generated over 200 likes within 30 seconds! That’s huge, and it went on. It’s a bigger deal in India than we are giving it credit for, and in months to come we will all be using social media for our messaging to our core listeners, our existing CUME.


#4 One promotion every sweep:

Virgin radio stations around the world do this very effectively. This is an old chestnut in markets where ratings happen once every quarter or half etc… Anytime the diaries go out or the PPM come to town the radio stations send out the artillery and blast away for share. We are the only country in the world to have a 52-week diary. So that implies we should be doing a promotion all the time, and that’s exactly what we should do. Short bursts of firepower don’t win wars, it’s the long-term campaign that works.


#5 Heavy ball, long chain:

Lay down the boundaries of what the content will cover and make sure the programming team stay within it. London’s Capitol FM is a local station in a capital city. They cover entertainment and London, that’s it. If it’s happening in London or if it’s entertaining then it is happening on Capitol FM.


#6 Character over content any day (my personal mantra):

Terry Wogan of BBC Radio 2 has been on air for nearly 55 years but once upon a time he was a fledgling talent looking for a break. Though he is not even from the UK, he is a national treasure there. We need to approach recruitments at a different angle and hire for the future, rather than steal from competition and inherit a jock who will continue to give ratings to his old station for years to come.


Vehrnon Ibrahim is the National Programming Head, Oye! 104.8 FM


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