Meow FM’s pussy talk station scratches new format ideas | radioinfo

Meow FM’s pussy talk station scratches new format ideas

Thursday 14 June, 2007
Meow FM on air now in India

A new talk radio format, which focuses on female listeners, is being developed in the Indian capital city of Delhi. The format is being spear headed by Chief Operating Officer Anil Srivatsa and a team of female broadcasters, with plans to expand to other Indian cities as new commercial FM licence roll out this year. Other countries are watching closely to see if the innovative station, called Meow FM, is successful.

Talk topics on Meow FM range from serious to humorous, covering subjects as diverse as the endemic level of corruption in the Indian public sector to the strangest items carried in women’s handbags.

Women play a strong role in both family and political life in India, and are willing to have their say on many topics, so opening the lines in most timeslots yields many female callers. Male callers are allowed too, but the station is aiming for a majority of female talkback voices on air.

All major shift announcers are female, and have been chosen for their profile and personality, rather than their years of experience as radio broadcasters. While talk radio stations in other countries have not generally been known for putting large numbers of females on air, TV talk shows hosted by high profile females such as Oprah have had huge success. The network is hoping to replicate that success on radio in the Indian context.

Hosts include former journalists, social workers and others not necessarily form a traditional radio announcing background. They speak both Hindi and English, to reflect the two predominant languages in India.

Instead of saying ‘hello’ when beginning their conversation, callers are expected to say ‘meow.’ And they do, willingly.

Marketing for the new station has been fairly soft, because the format was kept under wraps until launch date, just a few weeks ago. Billboards with photos of the hosts, wearing the station’s claw scratch logo, are now being seen in strategic locations across Delhi. Similarly branded female talk stations will soon go on air in Mumbai and elsewhere, as the company rolls out the format in other cities where it has secured licences.

The station has two logos that encompass both ends of the programming spectrum being embraced at the station, a claw scratch logo representing the feisty side of its content, and a cute pink pussy-ears logo to signify the softer side of the station’s content.

Meow FM is owned by Radio Today Broadcasting Ltd, part of a larger Indian media company which also owns pay TV channels and print publications. Station COO Anil Srivatsa is a former announcer and sales manager, who had a successful broadcasting career in America before returning home to India to spearhead the new network.

The Indian commercial radio market is crowded with Hindi Bollywood music stations, so the new talk format will stand out to audiences and advertisers for its significant point of difference. If the experience of other talk stations around the world is anything to go by, advertisers will be interested in the talk format for its level of engagement with an audience of active ‘foreground listeners.’

The move to begin a talk format in a country where news bulletins are currently banned, and there are tight government restrictions on what can be said on the newly licensed commercial stations, is adventurous, but station leaders believe talk radio is an important format for a nation that is growing and improving itself so rapidly. Radio industry players expect the ban on news bulletins soon to be lifted, giving one more opportunity for the talk format to grow further.

While news and talk has been a programming component on the government controlled national broadcaster, All India Radio, for many years, it is a new adventure for the emerging commercial radio industry.

Station owners will be watching the balance sheet closely for early signs of success, and radio programmers all around the world will also be watching the station for new talk radio ideas as the format develops.

Click below to visit the station's website.

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