Can a Satyamev-like show be created for radio? Yes, say broadcasters

14 May,2012

By Robin Thomas


Aamir Khan’s ‘Satyamev Jayate’ is the hope to recreate the Sunday morning appointment viewership that was probably lost with the entry of multiple cable television channels in the late 90s. The Sunday morning programme, which premiered on May 6 with much fanfare, has already received rave reviews from viewers and marketers alike.


Appointment viewing in television has become a common practice, with examples galore like season one of Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC) or soap operas suchas ‘Kyun Ki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi’ or even earlier epic programmes like the Ramayana and Mahabharata, wherein viewers would often set the time aside for their favourite shows.


But can the same be said about radio? Does a radio programme have appointment listenership? Can they create shows of the calibre of ‘Satyamev Jayate’?


One of the reasons why television programming has evolved is said to be only because of multiple channel offerings, similarly radio programming is also said to evolve with more channel offering, different genres and thus big property shows which could draw more loyal listeners.


According to GG Jayanta, National Marketing Head, Radio Mirchi, a similar kind of experience exists on radio, albeit on a smaller scale, despite the fact that music is the largest chunk of programming on most radio stations. “The breakfast show, from 7am to 11am, usually tackles issues that resonate with local sentiments – be it the case of the battered girl child or petty corruption or question paper leaks or pot-holed roads. There are expert opinions, listener call-ins, diverging points of view et al – but the tone and manner is always upbeat and offers a ray of hope to the listener – entertaining, but not frivolous. It makes for engaging content leaving the listener with a feeling that there is someone listening to their plea. This interactivity is what makes radio powerful.”


One of the challenges for radio today is the lack of differentiation in content as most radio stations arguably sound the same, especially in the kind of music they play. Gone are the days when radio programmes like ‘Binaca Geet Mala’ and ‘Sangeet Ke Sitaron Ki Mehfil’ were highly popular with listeners who set aside time to listen to these programmes.


Anil Machado, National Programming Head, Radio One, felt: “Radio has a lot of appointment listeners, mostly during the weekends. Programming in every medium is a challenge today, but it depends on how you create a differentiation in your content. The moment a radio station begins to move away from the herd and create a differentiated content, it will attract more listeners and thus bring appointment listenership.”


Nonetheless, those were the days when there were not as many FM stations and the television onslaught was yet to take place. Whether or not multiple frequencies in FM Phase III would create differentiated and innovative shows and shows that of a ‘Satyamev Jayate’s’ calibre, only time will tell. But radio broadcasters would like to disagree. “In fact, Aamir Khan was on air with RJ Jeeturaj on Radio Mirchi Mumbai, wanting to interact with the audience and gauge their reaction to the show. Therefore, a similar sort of programming can happen on radio or for that matter any medium but, what is important is the audience should feel enriched,” said Mr Jayanta.


Radio broadcasters are of the view that such programmes have always been part of radio and that the next step forward for the industry should be attempts to create differentiation in content in order to create more appointment listeners. But there are some who feel that more than shows like Satyamev Jayate, what would work on radio are shows with localised content.


Sarthak Kaushik, Director, Programming, Hit FM felt: “A radio version of Satyamev Jayate’s calibre will not work because radio is an intensely personal and a local medium, so essentially it is the local issues that work on radio. As far as appointment listenership is concerned, it is mainly depends on the maturity of the audience. Radio is one medium which allows a lot of experimentation, all one needs is courage to experiment with a programme and how confident one is to promote that programme.”


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