Drive Prime and Drive Crime

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Slightly more than a fortnight back, I had written in a Facebook note (reproduced at the end of this post) that Radio ONE in Mumbai plays the best and most varied music, because their programming strategy had been evolved to include only the best and most popular songs, and to strictly exclude any repeats whatsoever in a 24-hour period. In a day and age when every FM Radio Station was sounding like the rest because all were playing with the same basket of 75 to 100 songs in a 24-hour period, Radio ONE, in a commendable bid to be different, declared it would play 13 different songs throughout a 24-hour period – that’s not 75-odd but 312 different songs a day. Since they were tweaking their entire programming approach, they even went ahead and began calling their presenters Music Jockeys instead of Radio Jockeys, and even got a baseline that plays upon music in a major way. See, I’m an average kind of music lover, and if my reaction to the varied and truly handpicked fare Radio ONE was playing was any indication, I was confident it would catch on immediately. And it seems to have done just that — at least amongst competing Programming teams — because over the past few days, Radio City and BIG 92.7 have both begun, to use a mild word,  emulating Radio One’s programming mix of alternating new and evergreen hits. Result: much better variety of hits. But ONE’s programmer still schedules the best mix, but that’s just a very subjective view — as indeed, is everything here, and it’s completely without favour or malice — and they still don’t repeat a single song throughout a 24-hour period. Don’t know if the rest will be inclined to match that, but I hope they are — am nauseated by the same set of 20 songs from five new and recent films playing as if in a loop from one to the other station in drive prime. I caught Sajda Tera Sajda on three stations last evening at around 7.45 pm in drive prime. That’s drive crime.

A major con is the 3 or 4 songs without a break. It was an innovation when Radio City – if memory serves me right, and please correct me if I’m wrong – introduced it long back, but now that’s just what it’s become – a con. Your RJ hasn’t reported in time, or s/he hasn’t got a script or pointers ready in time and is still scrambling to find and line up the songs to play out and that, if you already have a host of commitments to advertisers, means you cannot try and undo the damage of your late-coming or other indiscretions, and so you’ve got to proudly say, chaar gaane chipak ke or teen superhit gaane or whatever stylish nomenclature you wish to hide behind. Not on. I already have a thousand tracks on my car stereo USB or DVD lined up and ready to play, in handpicked folders.  Radio is about ‘presenting’ music, not looping it, wouldn’t you say? So get more efficient and unglue those chipkay huay chaar gaane.

Also, why are the  automated playout softwares of stations behaving as  if they’re the Malishkas and Raju Khers and  Archanas and Salils of the world and can replace them on air? I mean – more than once one’s heard them play out just songs interspersed with the program and RJ’s. In fact, one misses Malishka the most when she’s not there, and at such a time, you hear her show packaging announcing Morning Number One Malishka ke sang, followed by her hearty laughter, and it seems like she’s saying we’re having one at your expense, dude!

Prachi of RadioONE had been a put-off last week due to her excitable and loud announcement mode, but last evening was really cool and conversational. She was five notches down on the hyper scale and very listenable. She has a great voice and I just hope she’s decided to change vocally for the milder (read better) and wasn’t under the weather. Great work Prachi, keep it going.

Rohit on Radio City last evening was very good – has a great voice, is conversational but in the look-ma-no-hands-“I-speak-so-fast!”-mode. But as long as he can do it without skidding, and can shed just a little of the banality, who’s to complain? If he’s the same guy who used to present on BIG FM, well, it’s BIG’s loss and City’s gain. I remember that on BIG, he was sort of reined in, and sounded a little too pre-meditated.  Early years? But on Radio City, he’s shed the inhibitions and does put his good voice to good use.

Loved Fever 104’s parody of Sajda this morning.  Much better written and produced than their other parodies. They should make these parodies available for caller tune downloads.  In fact, Radio City too should make their Babbar Sher similarly available (don’t know if they’re already doing this. I believe it was out on CD, if memory serves me right). To my mind, the Babbar Sher filler’s packaging is one of the best and most memorable of its kind.

Let me find out who’s actually selecting and scheduling the music on Radio ONE; this is someone who shares my taste in music, so I want to know him or her better.

Enjoy the music. And share your views, please.

And drive safe.

(Here’s the Facebook post I referred to above:

Fatafat review: Drive-time FM in Mumbai this morning

Monday, 25 January 2010 at 16:52

  • Radio One 94.3 FM was playing the best music – no repeats all DAY is their promise, and the music was great. Now if only they would bring back Jaggu and Tarana for some good natural, chuckle-inducing, fun banter.
  • Best sound quality: BIG 92.7 FM. Second Best music: Fever 104 and BIG.
  • Best and truly seamless audio packaging – Fever 104.
  • Oh, and there was this RJ, who has a lovely voice, is extremely fluent and has an excellent vocabulary plus is fluent with at least four languages. Yes, every time I hear him, I cannot help but flip to any other station. Why? Because he seems to be so full of himself that he refers to himself in the rather grand third person (“soch rahe hain” abhi aapko bataayenge!” etc) but addresses Mumbai and his listeners as “tu”. If only he would realise that the worst thing an RJ can do is wallow in the sound of his own voice and let it show on air, he would get immeasurably better. Any guesses who this is?
  • And speaking of RJs, my favourites are Malishka of Red FM (alas, was missing this morning, but strangely, the slightly shrill Nayasha was hosting the show with the usual Malishka show packaging) and Rohini of 104. But my all-time favourites in the recent crop of voices on FM are Tarana and Jaggu (together ONLY). And my all-all-time favourite radio voices are: Amin Sayani, Pandit Vinod Sharma, and Brij Bhushan Sahani (used to present shows on AIR’s Vividh Bharti — Aakashvani ka panchrangi kaaryakram!)

24 COMMENTS

  1. This is an awesome piece…gives great insight on strategies used by various radio stations…very very useful for people like me since I keep writing on various media companies…thanks pavan for putting up such a thorough write up…

  2. Great review sir , the piece gives insight to listener’s perception of the radio stns which we PR guys can use real time to suggest correction to our clients.

  3. Good insights on Radio One and the industry. It would be very rare for anyone to think so deeply. I agree with you all the insights jotted down by you.

    As far as the Radio Jockeys or Music Jockeys are concerned, I switch to another channel the moment they start yapping. I am simply interested in good music. Some channels do play non stop hit music without any interruptions. That is something I prefer.

    Thanks for the great compilation. Keep it up

    • Thanks a lot Vikram. And Yes, ultimately it’s really about the music, but I’m sure you will agree if there is good conversation it adds to the entire experience. And on an unrelated thing, I love the name of your blog. Will check it out. Best…

  4. Hi,

    A good piece once again. But it is a very personal opinion. For instance, I like Fever 104, though we report on all the radio channels.

    I am curious to know, how does it matter if you are playing one song only once a day? I am an average listener of radio, who tune in to radio while driving in and out office (i,e, 45 min and 30 min respectively). I do not care if the FM station is using the song only ones, but what I care about is if the station is playing new and popular songs. I wont be tuned-in for all day.

    Your views sir…

    • Thanks Gaurav, and completely appreciate your opinion. I like the new songs too, but I lose it if the same set of five songs are playing ad nauseum within the same 10-minute window across five stations. And so I’d much rather have a good mix of the evergreens and the new songs. Like you said, a completely subjective and personal opinion, this. Thanks for sharing your feedback.

  5. Hi Sir….well noticed points. though i am not in Mumbai and cannot hear to fm stations of Mumbai but FM stations are same evrywhere. evn in punjab too . No one can believ that u r an vaerage music lover as u have observed the working of the stations very nicely and have put it into words more beautifully.

    Thanks

  6. It’s a very well researched and a nicely compiled piece. It’s pretty interesting to know how the radio stations pad up their programming slots, when their super star (read RJs) are late (lol).

    But the char gaane chipak ke… strategy works well for me, coz i switch on the radio to listen to songs and not for RJs. I stick to a station only when its playing a good song or its RJ talking abt something really interesting, else, I switch to some other channel.

    • Thanks Sumantha. Who are your favourite RJs in Delhi? (Since you did say you stick to a station only if either the music is good, or “the RJ is talking about something really interesting.” So which ones do you find interesting?

  7. Hi Pavan,

    I must say this has been a truly insightful reading for me. I totally agree with you regarding the quality of songs that are played on Radio One. Listenership has definitely improved and both te listeners and programmers have graduated from conventional to much more classic ears!

    Kudos to you for writing this article and giving such information. Keep it up!

    best of luck!

    • Hey thanks Farid. Am glad you liked the review. I hope to keep sharing such very subjective reviews more often… do join in with your views and suggestions. Will keep you posted! Best…

  8. Jeeturaj using ‘Tu’ really getting on to nerves, something should b done agaist dis… do take ka music jockey addressing the public of Mumbai as TU

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