Radio is rated the 2nd most credible medium by listeners: Asheesh Chatterjee

While TV and Digital have been grabbing the attention of consumers and media analysts, given the surge in viewership and engagement as the nation remains under lockdown, Radio has also been an important mode of entertainment during this period.

Big FM has been leveraging their self-service platform, ‘’, which facilitates brands and advertisers to book online ads and continue with their messaging in these times. The portal has been helping advertisers by creating jingles for their ads, strategising media plans, placing orders and transacting online without any distress. A 24x7 call center and chat bot service have been set up to answer advertisers’ queries. The platform will also feature direct sales agents to enhance the user experience. has been facilitating brands and platforms embrace technology and innovations in times of the COVID-19 crisis.

Amid the COVID-19 crisis and the nationwide lockdown, the greater worry now is economic revival and survival. The radio industry, as in the case of almost all industries, has seen a drastic impact. However, Asheesh Chatterjee, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Business Officer, Big FM, remains optimistic and sees an opportunity amid the downturn. In conversation with Adgully, Chatterjee talks about the platform for advertisers, as well as the roadmap for the long recovery period ahead.

What was the idea behind a platform like How is it helping in advertisers during the COVID-19 crisis?
The core idea behind is to provide advertisers a platform which will enable them to book ads with us at the mere click of a button. As major industries and sectors are currently reeling in the effect of the global pandemic, it has become imperative for businesses to adopt the latest of digital solutions to operate in a seamless and hassle-free manner. This platform will help our advertisers to conveniently book ads online and we look to foster long-lasting alliances with them. Radio is well-known as a hyperlocal medium because of its reach, and this platform will enable even the brick-and-mortar shops in small towns to easily and seamlessly play their ads on air while targeting a hyperlocal audience.

Once the lockdown ends, it is only right for people to be wary of stepping out and instead continue to practice social distancing. With a platform like helping advertisers run their operations smoothly, we are proud to provide value not just in a time of crisis but for the long term as well.

What advantages does the platform offer advertisers?
The portal enables advertisers to make requests for jingles, strategise media plans, place orders and transact online through its easy-to-use interface. Taking into account the different requirements and target markets for the advertisers, we have customised packages and bookings accordingly. With the platform being a crucial part of our digital transformation journey, advertisers shall face absolutely no hindrances in making payments as the entire process is digitized. Additionally, we will also be offering advertisers a host of schemes and discounts depending on the scale of business they do with us.

Apart from the platform, in what other ways is Big FM embracing technology?
Embracing technology is not only the need of the hour, but also the way forward for most brands. We, at Big FM, were the first radio station in India to practice social distancing by adopting Work From Home across all 58 stations that we operate in. Our digital team and in-built contingency plans made sure that the transition was seamless and one that allowed us to efficiently work from our respective homes. In such times, it is important for us to be in constant touch with our employees, know the course of action along with keeping their spirits high. Through video calls, we are able to conduct meetings across different verticals that help us achieve our targets in the midst of a lockdown. Our RJs, who are our biggest local influencers, too are working from home using their sound equipment systems connected via VPN.

Also, we recently introduced the ‘Onward & Upward – BIG Morning Session’ for our employees at Big FM. It’s a morning session conducted by our leadership team and leaders from the industry, where they put light on different aspects of the business, giving us guidance on the way forward in the current times. Known as a brand that adopts innovative solutions backed by technology, is yet another endeavour towards ensuring a smooth transaction between us and our advertisers.

Given the tough and uncertain economic situation, how has the advertiser response been during the lockdown period?
The impact of the COVID-19 crisis has severely affected the radio industry. Before the pandemic, the radio industry was reeling under the effects of the cuts in ad spends by advertisers, including the government, with players degrowing by -20 per cent this fiscal. The current lockdown has further affected the industry. However, we are taking steps to ensure business is on track. Our pioneering self-service platform,, which facilitates online booking of ads and payments, is an example of becoming a digital-first organisation and a small but vital step towards an upward transition between advertisers and the firm.

AROI recently sought a bailout package from the Government in view of the severe impact of the Coronavirus outbreak on the industry. What is your prognosis of the current situation, specifically from a radio industry perspective?
The impact of this global pandemic has seen industries and livelihoods being affected drastically. The radio industry is no different. The Association of Radio Operators for India (AROI) has been seeking relief from the government through restoration of Government spending, payment of overdue outstandings, waiver of license fees by the government and Prasar Bharati. The recovery is expected to be staggered, with the essential industries being the first to recover, followed by the more non-essential goods and durables. In such times, it is important to help businesses run and keep the economy going for everyone’s welfare.

With a long-term impact seen on the economy due to the COVID-19 crisis, what does the road ahead look like for the radio industry once the dust settles? What kind of a ‘new normal’ are we looking at?
These indeed are testing times, but if we look at it from an optimistic perspective, it is also opening new opportunities as to how we go about with our businesses keeping these challenges in mind. The ‘new normal’ post the COVID-19 crisis will definitely lead corporates to look at their businesses and operations with a new objective. It is important to understand consumer preferences, which are bound to change during the course of this crisis. Brands will have to remodel their offerings as per the renewed consumer demand and only those who are able to adapt themselves successfully will survive. It is important to innovate and be ahead of the game.

Also, according to a recent study conducted by AROI across 6 metros, 82 per cent of the population tuned into radio during the COVID-19 lockdown. The average daily time spent listening to radio increased by 23 per cent up to 2 hours, 36 minutes daily during this period. The study also reported that Radio listening at home has moved up from 64 per cent to 86 per cent, underlining the love of the medium. And overall, Radio is rated the 2nd most credible medium by listeners, bypassing TV, Newspaper & Social Media by a huge margin. This has reinforced the power of radio, which has always been regarded as a credible medium. So, our aim will be to continue educating and entertaining our listeners whilst keeping them at the core of our innovations.


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