Nisha Narayanan, COO, Red FM, is a prominent figure in the radio industry, caught up with the warm and quintessentially ‘Radio Woman’.
She started her journey with All India Radio, where she joined as an RJ. Prior to this, she was heading the FM projects at South Asia FM for five years.
During this time of her career she has worked with both radio and television. Her realm of knowledge encompasses areas such as programme planning, presenting, production and management, and leading from the front.
Nisha’s broadcast career coincided with the growth of cable and satellite television. She has produced various documentaries and had been a newscaster primarily on Doordarshan. In the early part of her career, she had not only covered live events and national issues, but also hosted chat shows and debates.
Q. In your long & successful career in radio industry, what has been your focus in designing or planning radio programs? What is the source of your knowledge input?
A. I started my journey with All India Radio, where I joined as an RJ. My broadcast career coincided with the growth of cable and satellite television. I had also produced various documentaries and had been a newscaster primarily on Doordarshan. Prior to my current profile, I was heading the FM projects at South Asia FM for five years. Being part of the core team of one of India’s biggest brand re-launch exercise i.e. S FM into Red FM I worked on this transition across the country to build the brand Red FM while keeping the core elements of the brand intact.
In the early part of my career, I had not only covered live events and national issues, but also hosted chat shows and debates. This gave me a good knowledge of programming and therefore helped me plan and design radio shows better.
Q. What is the quality and quantity of socially relevant programs of your FM channel?
A. CSR initiatives are an essential part of our DNA and programs related to social issues have always remained the focus for RED FM. Some of our properties are active for years now. We have ‘Bajao for a Cause’, which is RED FM’s annual campaign where an initiative of social significance is taken and in turn awareness and funds are raised to help the cause. RED FM has always been a socially aware and responsible radio station.
In different markets, we adopted a different cause that is relevant and pertinent to the city. One of our biggest and award-winning campaign in 2017 was ‘Mumbai Khadde Mein’. We released a parody song called, “Mumbai, Tula BMC var Bharosa Nay Ka? (Mumbai, don’t you have faith in the BMC?) highlighting the Mumbai pothole situations. This was sung by Red FM’s Morning No. 1 show RJ Malishka aka Mumbai Ki Rani and won immense support from our listeners. Under ‘Bajao for a Cause’ there have been several initiatives like installation of sanitary vending machines in Kolkata, the cause of educating children of commercial sex workers in Mumbai and adopting abandoned children under the Palna initiative in Delhi.
Our new show with Priyanka Raina (wife of Suresh Raina) ‘The Priyanka Raina Show’ is all about women empowerment. The show is aimed at creating an amicable atmosphere for women and educates everyone about how important it is to create a safe environment for women in the country.
Q. As a seasoned media personality, presently heading a prominent radio channel, how do you react to the mandatory CSR provisions under the new Companies Act, 2013?
A. Being a leader in the radio industry, we have been in the sector for a long time now and have done work not only from an entertainment perspective but also from a social cause perspective. As a responsible corporate group it’s our duty to give back to the society. It works two ways, on one hand it helps in creating appositive imagery of the brand and on the other hand it helps us to fulfill the corporate obligation towards the society at large!
Q. What possible roles FM channels can play to promote CSR Movement in India?
A. As entertainment medium we try to pick topics that are interesting, topical, have some social relevance aiming to create a bridge between the relevant authorities and the listeners
Q. Do you believe, Media Houses has a social responsibility, if so, how should they perform their Social Responsibility?
A. In 2017,’Mumbai, Tula BMC var Bharosa Nay Ka? (Mumbai, don’t you have faith in the BMC?)’- The Pothole Rap was created for the Mumbai pothole situations. The song took a dig at the BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation) in the context of the abysmal condition of Mumbai’s roads during the monsoon. We got a lot of support from the Mumbaikars on the social media and the media. The impact of the video was immense in terms of its reach.
Another eg. Is when RED FM took up the civic issue of open urination on walls with ‘Ek Number Wall’ campaign in Delhi. These walls were spread across different locations across the city. RED FM transformed these walls into walls of revenge termed as ‘Ek Number Wall’- the wall that throws back water on the person who pees on the wall. Every time someone came to pee on the wall the wall sprayed back water on them.
Q. Are you doing any programs or planning to do any programs targeting the corporate sector?
A. RED FM targets all age groups. We reach out to everyone who has an access to radio. Our RJs are extremely popular across masses including the corporate sector.
Q. As per your assessment, what are the key development challenges, Corporate India should address through CSR.
A. Women are strong species and we need to stand for each other. We as women need to make each other stronger and help uplift one another.
We have always heard theories and speculations about a difference between leadership abilities of men and women. With different personality traits, men and women act differently in diverse circumstances. Holding a senior leadership role in an industry majorly dominated by men, I can say that we need to be able to treat everyone equally.
Q. Do you plan to do any programs on CSR to build a bridge between corporate and social sector?
A.Currently we have started a new show on RED FM ‘The Priyanka Raina Show’ with Priyanka Raina (Suresh Raina’s wife) who is an entrepreneur running a foundation dedicated to providing aid to the underprivileged mothers across the country. This show is all about women, for women.
Q. How is your FM channel different from other channels in terms of socially relevant programs?
A. Radio stations today have become so much more than just an entertainment platform for the listeners. Most radio stations now pick up all sorts of issues like talking about how to save money, how to eat healthy, tips on relationships. Red FM through the ‘Priyanka Raina Show’ is picking up issues such as domestic violence, acid attack, girl child education, sexual harassment, gender biased and equality, menstrual hygiene, women of courage, taboos related to women etc. For topics that aren’t spoken often on radio channels, we have become a go to platform. It has become just a call away for our female listeners to reach out to us and openly talk about these challenges.
Q. What is the idea behind the ‘The Priyanka Raina Show’?
A. This is not our first association with Priyanka Raina. We started working with Priyanka in the beginning of 2017 with the ‘Palna Project’ initiative.
‘The Priyanka Raina Show’ is RED FM’s initiative on women empowerment. Priyanka speaks to victims/ survivors on their journey at the same time discussing the problem faced by women, children, men, young girls in the society.
Q. Anything you would love to share with the readers of CSR VISION.
A. India has witnessed a surge in co.’s focusing on CSR. Today, CSR has become a key benchmark of corporate performance and emerged as one of the most dynamic fields in India and across the world. Meeting some standards in CSR is a mandatory requirement for certain sizes of companies in India with special reference to amended Companies CSR Law.
There is a growing demand among corporates to humanize. However, getting involved in CSR at an individual level, leads to the larger betterment at a micro level. As a radio channel, we try to reach out to the last mile and make a difference!
The Government of India’s focus on the campaign ‘BetiBachaoBetiPadhao’ an initiative to create awareness regarding the waning Child Sex Ratio. Under its aegis, the government is working with corporates like us and other NGOs in generating awareness and improve the efficiency of welfare services intended for girls.