Ujala Ali Khan attends the opening of Radio Mirchi's new studio in Dubai and speaks to the head of the station in the UAE
It's been a good year for Radio Mirchi in the UAE. The station launched here in February last year, as part of the Abu Dhabi Media group (which also owns The National), and soon made its mark. Already the top radio station in India, at the 2012 Ahlan Masala Awards it won the title of UAE's Best Radio Station.
Now, in celebration of its first anniversary, Radio Mirchi has expanded its operations to a second Emirate with the launch of a brand new studio in Dubai.
Located in the Dubai offices of the Abu Dhabi Media group, the studio was officially inaugurated this past weekend by the musical composer trio Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, who were in town for Mirchi Bollywood Rocks - a concert where they will be performing alongside Sunidhi Chauhan in celebration of Radio Mirchi's first anniversary in the UAE.
While the trio enthusiastically discussed their forthcoming concert, Sandeep Sud, the head of Radio Mirchi in the UAE, expresses his confidence in the role the new studio will play in building on the Radio Mirchi brand and taking the station to new heights of success.
"There is huge pressure on you when you are the No 1 brand back home and then come into a new market where you have to prove yourself among some very good and established competition," says Sud. "There are seven players in this market and we love the competition, India is a very competitive market and so is the UAE. Within just one year, Radio Mirchi has been embraced by the South Asian expatriate community in the UAE, and the Masala Award also went in our favour."
Sud has been with Radio Mirchi since the brand was launched in India about 11 years ago. He moved to Abu Dhabi last year to start up operations in the UAE.
"The main reason we were in Abu Dhabi is because of our partnership with Abu Dhabi Media, one of the biggest benefits of which was that we had access to multiple frequencies. We are the only channel in the South Asian space to have three dedicated frequencies, unlike the others who have just one frequency.
"This allows us to reach out to the entire country, which is very important as there are South Asians present across the length and breadth of the country. Why limit yourself to a single Emirate when you can reach the entire country? Abu Dhabi Media has been a fantastic company to work with in terms of the kind of facilities and support they have given us. Now we are the only radio station in the country to have not just multiple frequencies, but also multiple studios."
Sud says that this is the perfect time to launch a new studio. "It takes some time to come in and understand a market. We were a fresh brand in the country. It took us a while to understand the preferences and listening habits of the local South Asian community. You can't just copy paste what you do in India. So we took those baby steps in trying to understand things and Dubai is as important to us as Abu Dhabi though, so now we are here."
The opening of this new studio will not alter the content between frequencies, explains Sud. Content will remain the same across all frequencies, but some new programmes will be added that would have been difficult - if not impossible - to execute from the Abu Dhabi studio.
"The presence of a studio in Dubai gives Dubai-based listeners access to come and see what a radio station is, meet the RJs, meet the celebrities, etc. From a station point of view, it helps you get closer to the listeners in terms of RJ interactions. We love having people at the station."
Two RJs from Radio Mirchi in India have flown in to join the UAE team: RJ Mohit and RJ Vikranth. "This is my first time in Dubai," says RJ Mohit, who arrived the night before the launch. He says that he is looking forward to working with the team - several of whom he has already worked with - in this new city.
"We are going to do pilots to see where the new RJs fit in," says Sud. "The studio will operate two to three days a week, depending on the shows we decide to do here, on the celebrities that are in town and on whether there are listeners coming in.
"Radio is a very personal medium. It's your friend. We want to emotionally connect to people, and in a manner that they have fun and enjoy, because at the end of the day, we are a sunshine brand. Feeling down? Come to Mirchi!"
Tune in to Radio Mirchi on these frequencies: 97.3FM Abu Dhabi, 88.8FM Dubai and the northern Emirates, and 95.6FM Al Ain
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