Radio is strange, it is very difficult for Program Directors to determine what kicks in for their audiences and then sell that to the advertisers. After all Radio is commercial entity no matter however we choose to defy it and say it loud that anything 'that' close to ME cant be something where number and figures and money matters, but buddy face it! the world has gone commercial aeons ago.
So there have been many different methods in the world of radio by which one gets independent figures however the one that has caught the fancy of commercial radio in India is RAM Ratings (Radio Audience Measurement) who release data every week for the week went by a fortnight ago.
There are few stations who argue against it and few who favour it depending on which side of their bread gets buttered. So there have been many stories of how stupid this whole method is but then isn't the same about the programming that each of these stations churn out in the name of being 'different'. Well if you are reading this with genuine interest than I believe you agree that the ratings are there to stay and one has to follow them to survive in the market. So niche stations don't follow it as sanctum-sanctorium and the CHR stations have no choice but to follow it for it offers a distinct differentiation in otherwise their 'run-of-the-mill' programming.
Alright I am going to present my own perspective on it starting from the first week of this year and see where we and these stations head.
Lets look first at Delhi where we have 8 private commercial stations which has 6 CHR and 2 Niche and then 2 Public FM stations one is CHR and the other has heady mix of Gold numbers and News and Sports.
For the year 2008 Mirchi remained as undisputed Number 1 followed by Gold FM. The other positions were all too volatile with the bottom 3 being almost fixed with Meow FM at Number 10, Hits FM at number 9 and Rainbow FM at Number 8.
In the year 2009 for the first week, Mirchi has remained as Number 1 followed by Gold FM. The third position is held by Radio City which has displaced Fever FM on the Number 3 position. We have a new number 4 as well in Red FM which was earlier the number 6. Fever FM has slipped 2 placed post their major campaign calling listeners to suggest changes, a clear indication that their Programming team has no clue what to do to gain market share. Remember Virgin radio which provides all programming and technical support to Fever,had in the past made their stations as Number 1s all over the world however India hasn't given them the similar treatment. Virgin in UK which is now under Times of India Management and changed their name too have lost a significant number of their listeners post the revamp there. Looks like revamp isn't the taste of the season, so advise to PDs stick to your guns and don't try to bring in change for change per se is welcome however I have rarely seen the execution of that change conducive of acceptance. And it is true for every field, all organisations bring in consultants to advise them of the changes but alas not as many to execute them. (By the way we are trying to develop that expertise at least in the radio sphere in India where we would execute changes for them).
Anyway Number 7 in Delhi is Radio One who for substantial part of 2008 had been number 3 with their Fatafat campaign, Big is Number 8 who also in the past had been number 3 now having badly lost out thanks to their aristocratic functioning where changes are pushed from the top without any thought to the local market and with their Prime time jocks having all departed. Rainbow is number 8, Hits Number 9 and Meow Number 10.
Meow is in for some change, they are trying to go niche with bilingual, having replaced their Noon Jock who use to bring out their 5th most heard hour at their station. Pity that they had to make that change, their noon listenership is bound to go down now. Hits and Rainbow are where they are, no changes in their approach or programming and are happy to be where they are.
If you have been a radio listener in Delhi or still listen to radio feel free to post in your comments on how close it matches with your perception of their ratings in terms of popularity. Remember the above ratings are overall that is all secs and all age.