x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Hindi station aims to shake up local radio market

The new Josh 97.8 veers away from oldies and talk in an effort to please a younger audience.

A new Hindi radio station has entered the UAE airwaves.

Launched two months ago, Josh 97.8 - complete with a signature tune composed by the Grammy award winner AR Rahman - is the seventh FM Hindi radio station operating in the UAE and the second to begin transmission this year.

In February, the Indian giant Radio Mirchi (launched by Abu Dhabi Media, which also owns The National) began broadcasting to immediate success.

Josh's manager, Madhura Rajendra, expects a similar response to the fledgling station, which is aimed at the 18- to 35-year-old market, as it attempts to shake up tried and tested formats.

"Josh means energy, passion and drive," she says. "The music will be cutting edge. There will be no 'I listen to this music because my dog died' kind of songs."

Rajendra says that although the local Hindi-radio market is saturated, research into the development of Josh found large levels of dissatisfaction among listeners.

"They are not happy with what they are getting," she says.

"This is because there are a lot of stations wanting to be everything to everybody. This is why we have gone the other way. We are more specific. We don't play any oldies. We have lots of music and very little talk. This is what our potential listeners told us [they wanted]."

One such listener has now become the Late Night Josh presenter Preetam, a 20-year-old Dubai student who sent in his demo tape to an impressed Rajendra.

"He said 'I wanted to be on the radio' and we invited him for an audition," she says. "He came in and proved he had what it takes."

Preetam and the Express host Zainab are making their radio debuts alongside the well established morning announcer Anjan, who has more than a decade's experience in India.

Rajendra hopes the dynamic team members will make their mark on the radio landscape, and judging by the early feedback, they are well on their way.

"The reaction has been great," she says. "We are getting a lot of feedback as well as international listeners like Ethiopians and Emiratis. Things are going well."

You can tune in to Josh on 97.8 FM. For more information, visit www.joshfm.ae

sasaeed@thenational.ae