From original shows to curating music, radio broadcasters are looking to create a distinct identity for themselves as they expand into smaller cities.

With most FM frequencies being embedded in mobile handsets, companies in the business are keeping themselves abreast with changing consumer preferences while making concerted efforts to take the mobile-first approach.

Mass medium

According to a study by AZ Research, 76 per cent of Indians now listen to FM radio via their mobile phones, while an average of 22.5 per cent tune in while driving. With mobile phone penetration growing in rural India, radio as a medium of mass communication is now reaching the remotest corners of the country via handsets.

Radio City 91.1 FM recently collaborated with Apple Music to create an exclusive playlist catering across various geographies.

Rachna Kanwar, COO - Digital, Jagran New Media, said: “Radio City’s tie-up with Apple Music will tremendously add to our mobile-first approach. Our highly curated playlists will be the first of its kind by any Indian radio network on Apple Music. Digital audiences will be able to discover first hand and on a highly engaging platform like Apple Music.”

As of March 31, Radio City had a weekly reach of over 52.5 million listeners in 23 cities.

Music Broadcast Ltd, which owns Radio City, currently has 39 stations, including 11 newly acquired stations in Phase III auctions. The network provides terrestrial programming along with 43 other web-stations, through its digital interface,

Similarly, Zee-owned Big FM, which runs 92.7 FM channel, is also looking at a slew of original shows and even digital content. Besides entrenching itself in smaller towns and cities, Big FM is also evaluating the possibility of digital radio broadcasting.

The FM channel, which reaches 50 million people per week, said some curated content is being aired through digital media to make discovery easier and also extendadvertisers’ reach across a different set of audience.

Praveen Malhotra, Chief Business Officer, BIG FM, said: “We constantly evaluate our content based on feedback from our listeners. In some new stations, we are continuing with the retro-programming content.” Big FM too is establishing itself heavily into tier I and II cities.

Kalanithi Maran-owned Red FM, which recently won a total of 22 stations in Phase III auctions, has also entered into markets such as Chandigarh and Amritsar where the channel didn’t have any previous presence, but are crucial both in terms of music and business. Red FM too is looking to further increase the penetration by launching in Surat and Patna.

AZ in its research had pointed that in terms of listenership, Radio City topped the list with a listenership of 5.2 crore, followed by Radio Mirchi and Big FM with 4 crore and 2.6 crore, respectively.