A bit too hot for you, magaa?

I did this quick piece on the launch of Radio Mirchi in Bangalore on May 9. The FM station went on air a week or so earlier.

You can also catch this on The New Indian Express website, albeit in a slightly jumbled form

(You need to register, but  it's free) 

BANGALORE: If you were running Radio Mirchi, you would say your
programming is sakkath hot, but if your tastes extend beyond current
Hindi hits, you could be ruing that FM just got dumber.

The latest station trying to rule the Bangalore airwaves is narrower
in its tastes than its nearest competitor, Radio City. It plays Hindi
songs 24/7, and they are invariably ''the latest and hottest hits'',
which means you are unlikely to hear a song that you heard and loved
some years ago.

When Radio City (91 FM) came to Bangalore, it thought it had its
finger on the pulse of this cosmopolitan city and played imported hits
in English. Then their marketing wizards told them they had to do more
Hindi. They brought in lots of masala from Mumbai. Their matinee show,
with its vintage Hindi music, is of more recent origin. They now play
some Kannada songs as well, and at least a couple of shows are hosted
by Kannada-speaking RJs.

A major difference in Radio Mirchi (93.3 FM) is that all the RJing is
in Kannada, a departure from the Hindi-English mix that Radio City has
been employing. Radio Mirchi's target listeners are those in the Rs
10,000-Rs 20,000 monthly salary bracket, and the station's research
team says Kannada is the best way to this segment's heart. From being
a people living on the fringes and speaking English in a funny accent,
Kannadigas have suddenly become the toast of FM radio!

But puzzlingly enough, Radio Mirchi plays no Kannada music. That is
again because their research tells them Bangaloreans love nothing
better than the most recent Hindi music. In Chennai, by contrast,
Radio Mirchi talks Tamil and also plays Tamil music.

FM by definition is narrow in its focus. It typically covers a radius
of about 40 km, and is seen as a good medium to play some music and
talk about traffic jams, the weather, and city listings. FM stations
do interview people but they do not produce their own music, like good
old AIR or the BBC.

They take popular music others have produced, spice it up with some
youthful talk, and then market airtime to the advertisers. Thus
commercial FM stations have no interest in something like classical
music: imagine the difficulty of cutting up a Bhimsen Joshi khayal or
a Beethoven symphony into three-minute chunks and then inserting ads
in the gaps! (But Hindustani and Carnatic classical buffs in Bangalore
are lucky. They can tune into Amritavarshini FM 101.1, India's only
classical music channel, after 6.30 p.m. every day).

As of now, many young people say they prefer Radio Mirchi because it
plays ''nice music'' and has fewer ads than Radio City. But that
advantage could vanish as business picks up.

First impressions of the new channel then. The dhak dhak is all Hindi,
and the bak bak all Kannada, but stay tuned. There could soon be a
time when Radio Mirchi researchers discover that people also like
Hindi music that's old, and that an audience that wants its talk in
Kannada might also want to listen to songs in that language