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Leading beyond Covid-19 – by Channel 4’s Mohammed Jundi

The radio network’s management describe how they have built back after the pandemic

Mohammed Jundi, Network Sales Director at Channel 4 Radio Network

Mohammed Jundi

With Covid-19 restrictions being lifted, the FM radio business, as well as its solutions and digital components, is poised for rapid expansion beyond pre-pandemic levels. We at Channel 4 Radio Network designed a pandemic strategy that included a range of specialised programmes and podcasts. Our motive was to entertain and uplift our listeners, which aided our network’s dynamic programming and boosted our network time spent listening (TSL).

Our intellectual properties (IPs) are the finest entertainment attractions, and Channel 4 Radio Network has been a pioneer in this business. For us, the greatest radio promotions are more than promotions – they create topics of discussion, hence we develop network IPs and individual station-wide recall-builder campaigns that will help us boost our brand awareness. Our goal is to improve and remain relevant to our audience by providing unique and hyperlocal programming on both radio and internet platforms.

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According to a March 2022 survey by Ipsos, we are the UAE’s leading radio network, with 3.9 million daily listeners across four radio stations. We have a large on-air audience, a high level of credibility and a compelling value proposition for advertisers. Another area of concentration is talent development, which allows us to leverage radio jockeys (RJs) as a crucial marketing tool while remaining competitive in the ever-changing UAE market. Our RJs have become important to the listeners, brands and marketers.

Advertisers today are looking for innovative strategies to successfully deliver their message to their target audiences. The increasingly immersive nature of the listenership experience is anticipated to draw more advertisers to invest in radio, from branded collaborations to digital and programmatic audio advertising. We have a deep understanding of brand advertising needs and are constantly striving to provide our clients with new solutions.

Ad spending in most industries revived as business sentiments improved as a result of various international sporting events, product launches and in-person entertainment experiences, which gave the industry a much-needed boost. Channel 4 Radio Network had more than 25 per cent market share in 2021. While established lines of business such as promo selling continued strong and regained lost ground, a slew of digital initiatives complemented them and saw significant growth. The winter season in the UAE, Expo 2022 and the month of Ramadan provided joy and optimism, which was reflected in the company’s success, with the ad volume growing 15 per cent year over year in 2021 and maintaining a lion’s share of the volume. The UAE’s media and entertainment industry has demonstrated amazing resilience, and radio advertising’s opportunities will continue to strengthen for the next few quarters.

Naheed Jumani

Naheed Jumani, Programming Head of 89.1 Radio 4

Our marquee properties have grown significantly over the years. We have always set new records with Win A Life, Wheel of Fortune, Home For Eid, and 50K Celebrity Voices, and have witnessed increase in participation year-on-year that highlights the impact and the power of this medium.

Philippe Riachy, Programming Head of 107.8 Al Rabia FM

Philippe Riachy

Rather than merely being a radio station, we regard ourselves as audio entertainment. We develop audio content that broadcasts on FM digitally, and through social media. Users have flocked to Al Rabia’s short and snackable content, making us the UAE’s first and quickest radio station to reach 1 million followers across all platforms. Arabic podcasts too have a lot of potential for growth in the region, and we’ve already witnessed 460,000 downloads since inception.

Vysakh Somarajan

Vysakh Somarajan, Programming Head of 101.3 Gold FM

The demand for music has been surpassed by the need for radio content. There is a lot of change going on, and brands are looking for radio station like ours to lead the way. Their preference is apparent for Gold FM, which serves a broader purpose.

Chris Bovaird, Programming Head of 104.8 Channel 4 FM

Chris Bovaird

RJs are credible influencers; people believe in them and have a lot of faith in them. We focus on engaging with brands through our RJ influencers, and we create RJ identities that go beyond radio for a wider reach. We have a series of activities focused on the RJs’ characters and important market and consumer insights to help them expand their reach across media channels.

Ritesh Bhadresha

Ritesh Bhadresha, Research Head at Channel 4 Radio Network

A global study conducted in 2022, ‘Exploring The Brand Benefits of Trust and Companionship in Audio’ found that consumers perceive radio and podcast personalities as highly relatable, trustworthy and authentic.

55 per cent of participants said they listen to commercials more often on radio and in podcasts than through any other medium. 53 per cent found radio and podcast advertisements to be more relevant than on any other medium.

Radio listeners are 129 per cent more likely than listeners of other audio platforms to say they listen ‘to be entertained’.

Radio hosts are seen as some of the most relatable and trusted influencers, when compared with other vertical such as TV
and social.

71 per cent of podcast listeners and 79 per cent of heavy podcast listeners say that podcasts ‘educate/teach me something new’.

These research pointers will benefit marketers since they extend to advertising, product suggestions and the larger radio and podcast communities. Radio stations have a high perception of authenticity and connectedness to the communities they serve. Advertisers must use these insights to increase brand affiliation and favourability, as well as drive purchase in audio contexts.