Radio City has created a strategic roadmap with radio & digital: Ashit Kukian

The world of radio has progressed to become an important platform to disseminate socially relevant and informative content to the listeners while also providing a daily dose of entertainment and music. Since its inception in 2001, Radio City has been creating unique, reformative and edutainment content to appeal to the pan India listeners.

Over the last two decades, Radio City has been reinventing and transforming itself to stay relevant and resourceful by integrating radio with digital. As today’s audience is more digitally inclined, the radio channel has expanded its digital capabilities by launching multiple radio + digital IPs. Radio City continues to be at the forefront of offering relatable content that adds value to the lives of its listeners on both radio and digital platforms.

In conversation with Adgully, Ashit Kukian, CEO, Radio City, speaks about the third edition of its Hitlist OTT Awards, how Radio City is exploring new genres, increase in podcasts, th resurgence of th radio industry in the post pandemic times and much more.

Could you tell us more about Radio City’s IP – the Hitlist OTT Awards?

Our IPs have always featured ingenuity at its core and we envision to keep building properties that excite, engage and energise our audiences on an ongoing basis. Through our ingenious offerings, we aim to fuel intelligent content across our stations with our RJs entertaining and enlightening listeners over the airwaves.

Speaking about one of our marquee properties, ‘Hitlist OTT Awards’ launched by Radio City and Mid-day, is one of the most sought-after events which celebrates innovative content creators and talented artists from the OTT space in the country. We recently culminated the nomination process for the third edition of Hitlist OTT Awards, which saw an overwhelming response from the audience with over 2.97 million votes. We will be announcing the winners of the most awaited awards soon. The first and the second editions were highly appreciated and received a thumping response from critics, content creators, industry veterans, and our audience. These awards for the OTT industry have furthered the cause of producing quality content creation and given rise to healthy competition while also securing to raise the bar for OTT players to feature enriching and engaging performances.

How does Radio City keep up with the technology and be relevant to GenZ? What are the innovations seen in the radio industry to stay ahead in recent times? How are you expanding into digital?

The transformative power of radio has multiple facets that bring relevance in entertaining, inspiring, and uniting the people across regions and societies. This is the reason we invest in extensive research to build powerful and impactful hyperlocal content for our audience. By leveraging technology and tapping into digital initiatives as key enablers, we have been consistently offering unique shows and properties to stay relevant. We have built indigenous properties, both for on-air and digital platform, to showcase emerging talents through our top artists, podcasts, web radio shows and much more.

Eleven years ago, Radio City was the first FM radio channel in the country to adapt to the digital medium, with the launch of first Internet radio station. Our strategy to combine radio plus digital is based on how technology has revolutionised the existing broadcast paradigm and offers a plethora of opportunities for Radio City to expand its horizon. Our radio plus digital strategy has also given birth to RJs becoming social media influencers. This has enabled our advertisers to utilise RJ influencers as a powerful marketing tool to deliver their messages to the audience. We have a clear objective where digital compliments radio allowing us to leverage our IPs on both platforms. This convergence between digital and radio for producing marquee content continues to witness wide acceptance and adoption from audience as well as advertisers.

How is Radio City diversifying into genres, languages, and cities with podcasts?

In today’s time, audiences prefer consuming content in a language that is most native to them. Radio City understands this phenomenon well and has been consistently diversifying itself by offering content in varied languages and genres. Right from offering podcasts, to video interactions with celebrities & popular artists, etc., we instil a hyperlocal touch to our content. In diversifying our offerings, all our radio stations address local tastes by developing regional content specifically tailored for the audience of that particular region. We have several IPs in regional languages such as Joke Studio with Kishore Kaka, which is in Gujarati, ‘Taste Series’ is in various South Indian languages, etc.

We have also expanded our footprint to target global audience through our digital offerings, and we utilise our digital play to expand reach to match varying degrees of consumption preferences. Radio City produces a wide range of original podcasts, web radios, polls, quizzes, digital solutions, and creative content to address the growing demands of advertisers and audiences. Our continuous expansion in establishing a strong digital presence across the platform has gained us more listeners and has also magnified our advertising revenue. This integration with digital has sparked the fuel for Radio City to keep exploring newer possibilities and build our own distinct and newer regional programming content.

How has OTT revolutionised the way content is consumed on media platforms? Is OTT's growing consumption posing a disruption challenge to traditional distribution channels?

The OTT industry has completely transformed the way content is created and consumed in today’s digital disruption era. From content inception to generating engaging performances, OTT has emerged to bring new formats for advertisers and consumers. This has also provided Radio City with an opportunity to increase its reach and add more revenue streams to its pipeline. With the OTT industry pegged to grow at 22-25% CAGR, our popular Hitlist OTTT Awards is perfectly pitched to establishing a legacy of its own in crowning ‘out of the box’ narratives and performances from the OTT space. With our marquee properties such as Radio City’s Hitlist OTT Awards, we aim to become a part of the larger narrative and expand our audience base, thereby supporting the OTT industry.

Could you share the ad spends in the pre- and post-pandemic period? What were the advertising sentiments and responses that you received for the festive period of Holi and what are your expectations for the next quarter?

Ad spends are steadily gaining momentum and we are very likely to see a positive sentiment gaining prominence across the radio industry. Festivals such as Holi, Easter Sunday, Eid-al-Fitr and others help to strengthen the positive curve towards achieving figures higher than even the pre-Covid numbers. Given how the resurgence is being played out, we are hopeful that the next quarter will be even stronger as people resume office with lowering of travel restrictions and opening up of offices and workplaces. This recovery is a positive sign and stakeholders across the board are adapting themselves in line with the revival of the radio sector. According to a report by FICCI & EY, the Indian advertising sector is expected to grow with a CAGR of 12 per cent and is anticipated to reach Rs 1 trillion revenue by 2024.

We at Radio City are actively remodelling our growth strategy to stay ahead in bringing a higher utilisation of our capabilities. This post-pandemic upswing has positively impacted the business and contributed to the sector's recovery with increased media consumption and drove consumer engagement within the radio community. The resurgence has generated opportunities for industry leaders to continue developing creative content and further boost the audio consumption patterns. Advertisers in the sector are also campaigning for dynamic, far-reaching content to reinvigorate customers with engaging and interactive products. Given such a positive pace, radio is bound to return to pre-Covid engagement levels in a few months. As we look at the rising trends for consuming radio, this robust progression will help achieve higher ad costs as compared to those during the pandemic.

Audiences love to listen to songs on radio, whereas we often witness that it’s mostly the RJ talking, which leads to the listener switching the frequency to another channel. How are you addressing this issue?

On the contrary to the popular belief, it has been strongly observed that listeners sought a perfect blend of good music and relatable content led by RJs. We at Radio City are committed to creating socially relevant, engaging, and hyperlocal content along with a daily dose of music entertainment for our listeners. The combination of good music with intriguing, well-researched content and podcasts has shown to achieve a higher retention rate among our pan India listeners. Some of our popular and light-hearted Ips, such as ‘Babber Sher’, ‘Love Guru’, ‘Aji Sunte Ho’, ‘Little Shots’, ‘Khayalon Wali Khidki’, and ‘Joke studio’ have become immensely popular among our listeners as they resonate with their mood and entertain them incessantly.

Furthermore, our RJs utilise both radio and digital platforms to interact and make genuine connections with the listeners using localised content that is constantly innovating, evolving, and adapting to changing preferences of our audiences. Over the past few years, we have seen that if the content and creative process is unique and serves a purpose, audiences will choose your content over others in the crowded broadcast media space.

Tracking listenership behaviour with our indigenous system has helped us identify multiple content consumption options as today’s audience is more hybrid in their preference. A consumer spends about six hours per day consuming content, which was previously limited to 2-3 hours.

What does your content line-up for the coming months look like?

Radio City has created a strategic roadmap, with radio and digital as the way forward. We have consistently developed a variety of programs and shows that are timely, engaging, and one-of-a-kind. In the month of April, we will be covering themes around the most popular sport ‘cricket’ as the season is about to begin. Along with that, our content will also revolve around promoting blockbuster movies that will release soon. We also plan to consolidate Radio City’s content creation and promotion on our digital streaming platforms, as well as monetize it across other mediums. Our original episodes and initiatives across varied themes will be a perfect blend of high-quality content and intriguing audience interactions. We have been producing relevant content across all our stations and have stepped up to the plate to work tirelessly to provide an ideal blend of socially relevant information, entertainment, and music.


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