Dubai-based Arabian Radio Network has launched two new digital-only radio stations, while an independent dance station has launched in Dubai.
ARN’s Al Khaleejiya Classic will play tracks from GCC musicians of the 1980s and 1990s. And Al Arabiya Cassette will also have a retro feel, broadcasting Arabic hits from the 1960s to the 1990s.
The two new stations are brand extensions of existing ARN properties Al Khaleejiya 100.9 and Al Arabiya 99. They will be available through those stations’ smartphone apps.
ARN has nine terrestrial stations, and last May launched another seven digital-only stations to complement its English, Hindi and Malayalam channels. Steve Smith, chief operating officer at ARN, says these served to drive up time spent listening (TSL) to the ARN network. Not only were audiences listening through their apps, often with their phones linked to car stereos, but following the launch listenership on terrestrial stations has risen too.
Smith told journalists he was expecting uptake across the new Arabic channels to be higher than the network had seen from its previous digital-only launches. The channels will appeal to an older, more nostalgic audience, and with songs that often last 10-12 minutes, the tracks the digital channels play won’t have to be cut down to accommodate commercial breaks.
The digital stations will carry advertising but, said Smith, their main role is to drive up TSL and keep listeners within ARN’s network. “We want to stretch [listeners],” he said. “To keep them within our ecosystem.”
Meanwhile, a new, independent radio station has launched in Dubai. Dance 97.8FM purports to be the UAE’s first dance station, launched by Theo Makris and Raed Zidan. Makris founded Shock Middle East, the company behind the station – with DANCE FM 97.8 being headed up by Makris and Digby Taylor. Taylor has previously worked for the past 10 years with Gulf News Broadcasting LLC developing new stations across the Middle East.
Gulf News Broadcasting closed its radio operations last year.