Saurabh P Shukla
Sr Manager, Programming,
Radio City, Ahmedabad

Reliable will remain

Technology played such an important role in 2020 that it has become one of the essential things in our lives. I wonder what would have happened if we did not have the internet during the lockdown period. Without authentic city – updates on radio and pandemic reports on TV we would have lived in a prehistoric period.

Boredom would have converted to frustration and uninformed society would have been under serious psychological disorders.

Starting from connecting to family, friends, and relatives through video calls for fun and bonding, to getting used to the work-from-home culture and webinars, technology played a pivotal role.

Social media was flooded with entertaining videos, motivational speeches, informative snippets, Instagram and FB lives et al., which kept people engaged, entertained, and informed.

For the first time in history, radio, which is one of the most interactive local mediums, was working from home! A one of a kind challenge to the entire industry. Interactivity with listeners halted. Radio City was one of the first radio channels to develop a mechanism to interact with its listeners. RJs started receiving and making calls from home as they usually did from the studio. All of a sudden, the home of the RJ became a studio without acoustics. Radio being an honest medium moved a step closer to its listener’s heart as everyone was working from home and so were the RJs. Radio once again proved itself a friend indeed.

Radio consumption increased during lockdown not because people were relatively free but because radio emerged as one of the most reliable and credible sources of information.

A study conducted by AROI observed that radio and TV had the highest engagement during the lockdown period. TV reaches 56 million viewers, whereas radio reaches out to a 51 million higher listeners than pre-lockdown. Radio reached 82 percent of the population in the markets (4 metros), where the study was conducted.

Radio listening is more of an emotional affair than just a source of entertainment and information. It is like a live-in relationship.

TV has ruled Indian households for more than two decades. From adjusting the TV antenna direction every 30 minutes to cable TV to DTH, technology changed but TV maintained its importance in the drawing room. Digital era has changed the scenario. Now we have our TV with us. The internet changed viewing trends but TV as a device is still there at our homes.

During lockdown the re-telecast of Ramayan and Mahabharat set a new record of TV viewership. It resulted in approximately 40,000 percent jump in viewership in the evening and morning bands as per BARC. Doordarshan encashed the strategy and re-telecast several old TV serials like Buniyaad, Shaktiman, and Vyomkesh Bakshi. What worked for this strategy? Nostalgia.

During lockdown the ad volumes on radio saw a drop in all the markets. But 8 percent lesser in non-metro markets, as per the research done by AdEx India. The same research says the ad volume in the month of June 2020 showed a speedy recovery compared to April 2020.

Why am I putting these data? Because the data quoted here are giving positive vibes for the future. I see a very competitive and very bright future for media professionals, consumers and advertisers.

Al Ries and Jack Trout in their book Positioning, published in 1981, said that we are living in an over communicated society. Almost 39 years back, if that was an over communicated society, what should we call the era we are currently living in? In the current era the biggest threat is communication of misinformation as this is hyper communicated society and people have less time to verify everything. Medium that will earn the tag of reliable medium, will win the race. Radio and TV through home viewing and listening with family and personal viewing through internet-based platforms have successfully achieved in building a perception of reliable source of information.

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