FM – The Rebirth of Radio

Remember the radio?

The forgotten gadget that gave us news bulletins and film songs?

The centre-piece of every living room before television relegated them to attics and storerooms as long forgotten relics?

Remember that button on your 2-in-1 Radio/Cassette player, marked ‘FM’ that you never used, while you had to be content with flipping between Short Wave and Medium wave for your favourite music programmes?

Well, in what promises to be the ‘Rebirth of the Radio’, by December, Bangalore will witness the launch of its first ever FM Radio Station, Indigo Radio. Promoted by BPL Innovision, a division of BPL, the communications and consumer electronics giant which has made Bangalore its home.If all goes as planned, Indigo Radio promises to electrify the homes, cars and senses of Bangaloreans with 24-hour non-stop entertainment with crystal-clear digital quality stereo sound.

FM Radio is not new to Mumbaikars and Delhiites, as Times FM and Radio Midday were highly successful till the government ‘pulled the plug’ on them in 1998. But with the new FM Broadcast policy offering private stations to operate in all major cities, a lot of heavyweight business houses, including the Times group, Midday and Asianet have joined the FM bandwagon. But for Bangaloreans this is the first time.

The mood at Indigo Radio is upbeat."We are giving it a local colour, unlike Music Television Channels which work on the concept that what’s good for Mumbai must be good for the rest of the cities. We have zeroed-in on the specific musical taste of the Bangalore crowd, and we are going to give them what they want." says Vernon Ibrahim, Air Boss or Format Controller.

"Bangalore is a melting pot of folks from all over India with a unique flavour of its own. Therefore our programming content will reflect most languages, so our Deejays will end up announcing Kannada hits in English or International hits in hindi. We don’t want to be known as an English FM Channel,but rather an interactive station that is constantly changing in tune to listener taste and feedback." says Head of Operations, Ajith Menon, who brings with him experience with his years at Times FM Mumbai which he helped start-up and operate.

With clever programming FM radio will eventually become a part of peoples daily lives. Regular updates on the weather, the state of Bangalore traffic and local city events will be interspersed with its main content " Music.
The Indigo Radio FM broadcast will spread over a 60- Km range, 7 days a week, 24-hour long. Unlike Television, FM is ‘Passive Listening’. While Television is out to grab attention, FM can be left on, quietly filling in and therefore quite a companion for the housewife in the kitchen, the drivers on the road, the casual listener or the die-hard music fan.
The other advantage over Television is the sound quality. With stereo sound in digital quality, FM listening is a rich experience like listening to your Stereo CD’s minus the trouble of selecting and playing them.

Another plus for FM is that for the listener there is no additional investment involved."Practically every music system available on the market comes with the FM feature built-in. Most cars are fitted with a player with an FM radio attached. So you don’t have to spend anything to listen to FM. Just tune in and chill out. With the launch of FM, there will also be new car stereo systems being launched in the market," says Ajith Menon.

Simultaneously ready for launch along with the FM station or even earlier is the new music division of BPL labeled Indigo Music. Its entry into the mainstream area of music publishing promises to be ‘different’.
‘Like our logo, (which is a saffron coloured letter I surrounded by blue) it will be a blending rather than a fusion of Indian and International styles, using live performances of artists to further propagate the genre,’ is what Jagadeesh M.R., Indigo Music’s Business Controller told Online Bangalore .

This refreshingly new concept in Indian Music Publishing history is sure to have airplay time on Indigo Radio.
When asked if the international trend of continued airplay being responsible for pushing up album sales would be adopted, Vernon Ibrahim says ‘ We are not going to forcefully thrust certain kinds of music on listeners but we will definitely play what we feel is a good song with the ingredients of a surefire hit. Like for eg. the Nusrat Fatehali Khan’s single from the film Dhadkan and the only A.R.Rehman single on the Fiza sound track’.

The revenue for the station will flow in from advertising in the form of jingles and sponsored programmes. With a targeted audience of 2 million listeners, FM is a very effective vehicle for brand promotion, especially during the prime time listening hours from 7 to 11 a.m. in the morning slot. With license fees of over 9 crores and stiff costs for transmission equipment, programming and personnel, it should be some time before enough revenue is generated to break-even.

The team at Indigo Radio is young, motivated and musically inclined. In fact all the major players in the team are musicians. Vernon Ibrahim was the lead vocalist of Bangalore’s headbanging metal band ‘Millennium’, Content Head Honcho Vineet Singh was the Crooner for Bands like ‘Rockless’ and ‘Stonecold’, Ajith Menon is an accomplished a rhythm guitarist"while Jagadeesh has wielded the axe for ‘Stylus’ and ‘Earthbound’. Even BPL Innovision’s Chairman and Managing Director Rajiv Chandrashekar is known to play a mean guitar! "This gives us a definite edge, as we can relate to the artists and performers on a genuine sound and feel basis", says a confident Ajith Menon.

We agree. We hope Bangaloreans will also agree and enjoy the thrill of the re-birth of the radio!
Stay tuned while I go and wipe the dust off my FM receiver!