[MxM Radio] I don’t see news as a game changer: Naval Toshniwal, Tomato FM

24 Feb,2012

By Robin Thomas


He completed his MBA from Symbiosis Institute of Business Management, Pune in 2003. He joined the radio business of Pudhari Publications and is said to have played a key role in winning the bids for Kolhapur and Sangli FM radio. Naval Toshniwal is the CEO of Tomato FM and Vice President, Pudhari Publications. In conversation with MxMIndia, Mr Toshniwal spoke at length about the success mantra of his talk-based radio station in Sangli. He also shed some light on radio consumption behaviour among the people of Kolhapur and Sangli markets, besides talking about the overall growth and challenges facing the radio industry.


Q: How would you rate the year 2011 for Tomato FM and the radio industry?

As every year, 2011 too was good in terms of acceptance of radio as a medium by advertisers. We saw more and more advertisers coming on board and using radio more effectively as a result the maturity and the acceptance of the medium have gone up. In addition to this development the year 2011 also saw bleak in advertising revenues were bleak, although the revenue levels have grown at the corporate level. The same year also saw a lot of content and marketing innovations in radio, a lot of and on ground activities and other activations that have helped the advertisers achieve their final objectives.


Q: What is the Kolhapur and Sangli market like from a radio consumption perspective?

Unlike other markets what is more significant about Kolhapur and Sangli is the fact that the overall penetration of radio in these markets is very high. Radio as a medium is very successful here, and it has been so for many years. However, the popularity and penetration of the medium further increased only after the entry of private radio stations. The kind of involvement the people in these two markets have with the medium is very high. The overall acceptance of medium too is very high. The listeners look up to the medium not only for music, but also for regular updates about their cities, their State and the Country.


Q: Initially Tomato FM was present in both Kolhapur and Sangli, it has now been renamed to Aaple FM in the Sangli district. What was the entire concept behind this move?

When we conducted a survey in the Sangli district we found out that there was a huge demand for a talk-based radio station which not only allowed the people to listen to experts discuss and debate on various topics but, also allowed them to participate in the discussions. Today, I can say that we have been successful to a very large extend in this format. Earlier there have been various attempts to start a talk-based radio station which more or less did not work. If you are starting a talk-based radio station there must be a very strong local connect to make the channel a success.


Q: Do you also play music on the talk-based radio station? What is the talk and music content ratio in Aaple FM and what is the station language?

Aaple FM is a completely local Marathi talk format radio station that plays only Marathi songs. However the majority content in Aaple FM is talk whereas the music content is very low. The songs are played for only 16 minutes an hour.


Q: The government has approved the MIB’s phase III proposals, e-auctions, news through AIR etc. How do you view these developments in terms of growth in radio?

Honestly, despite all these developments I don’t see any buoyancy or excitement in the industry. I believe this is because with every development proposed by the government there is also a handicap to it. For instance despite the government allowing news, the source of news is restricted to Prasar Bharati. So what is the differentiating factor here, news will sound same in every station perhaps without any local connect.


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