Big FM is looking at expansion in a media agnostic way: Abraham Thomas

Big FM recently underwent a major revamp across 59 stations with its tagline transitioning to ‘Dhun Badal Ke Toh Dekho’. Taking the thought forward, the radio channel has announced a completely new show based on its new positioning, titled ‘Dhun Badal Ke Toh Dekho with Vidya Balan’. The show is presented by Muthoot Fincorp and co-powered by VWash by Glenmark.  

Slated to release in the third week of March, ‘Dhun Badal Ke Toh Dekho with Vidya Balan’ will air every weekday evening from 7 pm to 9 pm, with repeats on Saturdays and Sundays. 

The programme aims to give impetus to positive conversations on relevant social topics and features Vidya Balan as the radio show host for the very first time. It’s a case of real imitating reel, as one would recall that Vidya had essayed the role of an RJ in the hit Bollywood film ‘Lage Raho Munnabhai’ as well as in ‘Tumhari Sulu’. Each episode will take up a new topic, ranging from mental health, new age parenting, adoption, body shaming, child abuse and more, which will revolve around breaking the glass ceiling. The show will begin with a thought-provoking monologue by Vidya, followed by the views of experts, thought-leaders and celebrities that will add to the whole experience. 

Talking about the upcoming show, Abraham Thomas, CEO, Big FM, said, “In these demanding times, people are expecting more and more from media brands such as ours. There is an expectation to bring purpose in to brands. In keeping with this expectation, we are moving from ‘mere entertainment to entertainment with a purpose’. Our purpose is to influence people’s thinking. ‘Dhun Badal Ke Toh Dekho’ is Big FM’s endeavour to inspire people’s thoughts for a better tomorrow.” 

Sunil Kumaran, Country Head, Thwink Big, Big FM, added here, “Big FM believes that as a brand, it can ‘Inspire Thinking’ and through its line of ‘Dhun Badalke Toh Dekho’, we want to urge people to look at life from various perspectives and not be rigid in their approach. The show with Vidya Balan will bring out this philosophy in a never seen before format, going across the country on the Big FM radio network and on digital. The show picks up wide ranging topics right from serious to light-hearted ones with a promise that it will stimulate conversations.” 

The new show will witness heavy promotions with a robust 360-degree campaign, and innovative promotional practices and strategies across digital platforms. 

On the choice of Vidya Balan as the show’s host Kumaran said, “The show is in keeping with our philosophy of providing entertainment with purpose, hence we wanted someone who could add a lot of credibility because it is meaningful content. Vidya Balan epitomises great stature with great credibility.” 

He further said that the show is planned initially for around three-month duration. While he was not sure at this point on whether the show would be continued beyond three months, Kumaran said that, “We can look at another version of the show; but we live this philosophy as a brand, so that will be seen in all of our shows.” 

Meanwhile, speaking on Big FM’s growth, Thomas said that the network has over 25 crore listeners across 59 markets. As far as growth in terms of listenership and reach is concerned in 2019, Thomas added, “We are transitioning Big FM to a brand with a larger purpose, because we have the power, the reach, the credibility and the trust to influence people’s thinking. We have taken the route to creating a purpose for the brand as listeners today are very socially conscious and they clearly prefer brands with a strong social message.” 

Thomas also acknowledged the growing impact of technology on the radio business. He noted, “What people do not realise is that with the growth of the network, there is growth of the entire ecosystem. Audio entertainment has been on the rise, which offers a huge opportunity for us to take audio and broadcast it in different languages.” 

While speaking on the evolved role of radio in a digital era, Thomas said, “At a brand level, it is about responsibilities and also about wherever the audio content fits as a part of one’s daily entertainment fix. We have to make our content available right now, so that consumers can reach out to it.” 

He also noted that today, people consume content on multiple platforms and hence, there is need to be available on all platforms. 

“Because we own audio as a space, audio can traverse across the different platforms where consumers are,” said Thomas, adding, “If it is digital, we can be present there with a podcast video, we can actually have a content player, we can have music players across platforms. Content can go into digital in any form. Storytelling is another great space for digital content to be built. So, we are going to look at expansion in a media agnostic way and move where the consumer is moving.” 

While sharing his views on AIR news being allowed to be aired on private FM channels, Thomas opined, “I think it’s a good beginning; we had been talking about it for quite some time. Right now, they have given us 5 minutes each of their news that we can use. We are looking at integrating that in our market. Radio is about not just local, but hyper-local, so we have to eventually get down to local news.”


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