Even with all these run arounds you probably wouldn't listen to more than 4 different stations in a week.
Last time I checked there were approximately 40 radio stations operating within the Accra area - I didn't say Greater Accra region. Just the Accra area. Yes, I will expect some of you to be surprised at that statistic. In fact, according to the National Communication Authority (NCA), the state body that gives out licenses, there are 45 of them to be exact. The reason why you do not know majority of these is that you have your favorite stations you listen to. You may go to this station for the news and there for the music and that one for the morning show and this one for the drive home and that other one for the political talk. Or just like I sometimes do, I simply scan my dial and if I hear what I want, I stay there. Sometimes I have no idea which station I am even listening to.
Even with all these run arounds you probably wouldn't listen to more than 4 different stations in a week. So imagine who listens to the others that you don't listen to. The greater chunk of these stations are barely breaking even financially. Advertisers won't go to them because the research figures show that they don't have enough ears. They are compelled to slug it out with the big boys - winning that fight makes the odds of a snowfall in Nsawkaw my hometown in the Brong-Ahafo region a lot more possible.
It becomes understandable that stations will seek for ways to reach out to listeners and potential ones and thereby boost their ratings. In doing this, it is interesting to note that stations that are doing fairly well in the top of mind department are also those using outside broadcasts as a tool in getting noticed and getting closer to the public. I am not drawing a correlation between ratings and outside broadcasts. Having said that though, is it just me or there seem to have been some upsurge in outside broadcasts in Accra.
Outside Broadcast, most commonly referred to in the industry as OB is simply when a radio station decides to move its studios away 'from the studio'. Often the exact set up in the studio is replicated, of course with much less aesthetics. In the past it involved the movement of heavy equipment and a 'mast' but these days I am told the technology has improved immensely and this is obviously good news for technicians and all.
So I have noticed that over the past few weeks Starr FM, Live FM, Joy FM and Y FM have been busiest with OBs. Just in case you didn't know, Live FM and YFM are competitors with YFM being ahead due largely to the fact that they have been here longest and over the period delivered consistent and innovate programming with a very exciting team of DJs and presenters. Live FM has no doubt entered the market strongly, building its core team around folks that cut their teeth and grew with the YFM brand. Starr FM on the other hand is in a similar dog fight with Joy FM and CITI FM. With the kind of market we have, it makes sense to see stations scramble for listeners and playing in the innovative space.
Not too long ago the OBs were predominantly of the talk show/lecture type. These were either stations-initiated shows or airtime bought by civil society and other groups to carry one lecture or the other live. Lately however, the opening up of various malls has also served as avenues to bring presenters and stations on one side to fraternize with listeners and shoppers on the other side. The Accra Mal, A&C Shopping Mall, West Hills Mall, Junction Mall, Achimota Mall have been busy lately. The university campuses
But do these really have any effect on the competition? I think they do. For instance Live FM has been having regular OB sessions from various institutions in the past few months. They are in the midst of their target audiences whiles they celebrate their hall weeks. They are involved in the organization of artiste nights with one telco or beverage company or another. What these do is that it increases the bonding with these students and that association will certainly be seen as appealing to advertisers. Added to that is the very clear desire of listeners to ‘strike a relationship’ with the presenters. It may not be a big deal to those of us who know these presenters and hang out with them daily but to a number of listeners it is a very big deal.
If you are a radio consumer and not an owner like me, you will certainly be excited with the competition in the market. Yes we may not have seen too many innovation in the industry but that has seen some improvements lately and hopefully it will serve the interest of consumers and advertisers more.
By Kwame Gyan