Jaldi 5 with Ashwin Padmanabhan: The retro way to rise in ratings in Mumbai

04 Jul,2013

Two Sundays back, Reliance Broadcasting Network Ltd’s 92.7 Big FM in Mumbai switched from being a current hits radio station to one that plays retro music. Last year, after it did the same in Delhi, the station leapfrogged the RAM ratings charts to the Top 3. With the change to retro, the RBNL thinktank hopes to achieve much success in Mumbai too.We posed a few questions to Ashwin Padmanabhan, Business Head of the 45-station 92.7 Big FM. Here goes the Q&A.


1. So why the switch to retro in Mumbai too?

We initiated an exhaustive research to evaluate the preferences of our listeners and understand our brand positioning better. The results showed that listeners favoured retro music and there emerged an opportunity to offer listeners music and content of their choice. This decision was also influenced by the success generated at the 92.7 Big FM Delhi Station, which went retro sometime ago and the market has reacted exceedingly well. The response from listeners was overwhelming, with the station reaching leadership numbers.


2. Would you go retro with your other stations too?

We have never believed in a one-shoe-fits-all format. We evaluate and treat each market independent of the other and understand the requirements of each individual market. We have gone retro in six markets – Mumbai, Delhi, Baroda, Kolkata, Bhopal and Rajkot.


3. 92.7 BIG FM was meant to be a mainstream FM radio station. By going retro, while your listenership rises, you move away from the mainstream… something that you would’ve possibly have as your second station do post Phase 3?

The team has mapped out its positioning strategy based on unique yet strong on-air and digital concepts, while taking into consideration the lifestyle of Mumbaikars, the amount of time they spend in travelling and the blend of listeners in Mumbai. Although the stationality has been changed to retro, the revamped content strategy will also bring to listeners a plethora of current happenings in the city including stock and gold updates, city affairs, traffic and weather updates, sports, music-related trivia and more. In addition to this, 92.7 Big FM Mumbai intends to keep up with the local roots of Maharashtra by airing Marathi music and will have Marathi-speaking RJs as well. So no, I would think we are still very mainstream.


3a. Tell us more about the local Marathi content? How much of it will be at peak hour?

We are still working on this and might be a little early to talk about.


4. How do you anticipate the retro positioning faring in terms of ratings?

Well, we believe this will work in the Mumbai market. Our endeavour is to break the clutter and offer listeners content that is engaging and meets their aural preferences. Right now might be a little premature, but the feedback coming in from across the city has been extremely encouraging. We are confident it will work well with listeners.


4a. Yes, your Delhi ratings have most certainly improved… In terms of ads, how has the higher ranking helped?

Advertisers pan India have supported our decision. Differentiation is the way forward, and our advertisers realize that.


5. What does your Delhi experience say… does retro music alienate the young and restless?

Certainly not. We think the music from the sixties and seventies has always been appreciated by listeners across age groups. We think 92.7 Big FM can offer a distinctive change from the monotonous pattern of music that is heard elsewhere. We have seen an increase in listenership and are very happy with the results of the new positioning.


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