Tuning in to local listeners

Stanislaus says local history and culture must be taken into consideration when programming for local listeners.

LIKE other media platforms that are customising content to address specific audience segments, radio, too, is expanding its reach by setting up regional stations to better serve local communities.

While radio conglomerates such as Astro Radio, Media Prima, and the Star Radio Group continue to extend their footprint across Malaysia, regional radio stations such as Best 104, Ultra FM, Pi Mai FM, BFM, IKIM FM, and Cats FM are investing in strengthening their operations.

“It’s all about localisation,” said Laureate general manager Hawa Abdul Hamid. The company operates Pi Mai FM and Ultra FM.

“We address a specific market, celebrate local events and target advertising to reach specific consumer segments,” she said.

Best 104 chief executive officer Yusry Abu Samah agrees that regional radio stations have the ability to target listeners within a precise area of coverage while creating a unique brand identity.

“We can afford to break away from traditional programming formats with niche and dedicated programming that caters to our audience exclusively.”

Astro Radio chief executive officer Jake Abdullah thinks regional radio stations provide a chance to develop fresh talents, create employment opportunities, while serving the local community and advertisers.

“Unless it is a stand-alone radio station – like BFM, Cats FM, and Best 104 – regional radio stations function as uniquely local but aligned to the national station’s brand values.

“Regional radio stations serve as the eyes and ears of the national radio stations based largely on the business model.”

In a nutshell, as Jake puts it, “It’s local programming by local talent for the local audience.”

Regional radio stations also benefit through its membership in Commercial Radio Malaysia (CRM), an association representing 22 commercial radio stations in Malaysia, by working jointly in maintaining a harmonious relationship with the Government and regulatory authorities.

“Apart from supporting CRM-initiated events such as Planet Radio, Radio Day and Boot Camp, we also work together to uphold the standards, ethics, and practices of radio broadcasting for the nation’s good,” said Yusry.

Hawa said regional radio stations adhere to the local dialects and cultural nuances and as such, create content that is region-centric.

“I believe regional stations can compete against national radio stations by offering affordable advertising packages, promote local events and provide the region’s news much faster and more thoroughly,” Hawa said.

Star Radio Groups’ Suria FM in Sabah operation manager Ivy Stanislaus agrees that the local history and culture must be taken into serious consideration in creating a unique programming proposition.

“Regional radio stations have been a frequent medium to complement local businesses’ print advertisement as they are able to narrow down their segmented market,”she said.

Yusry added that regional radio stations generally operate with lower costs as they tend to maintain a tight rein on staffing, operational overheads and promotions, and they make a comfortable profit by adhering to a lean but effective business model.

The operational parameters of a regional radio station in terms of staffing, operations, and costs are contingent on the respective station’s budget and management direction.

Jake considers return-on-investment and demand as the two key factors.

In terms of advertising, regional radio stations customise packages to support local businesses.

“There is definitely a need for price sensitivity in regions,” affirms Jake.

Likewise, Hawa also subscribes to customising advertising packages for the regional radio stations.

“Our primary goal is to grow local businesses, and where it’s required, we provide support in various forms at no additional cost.”

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