The UAE's cutthroat radio market just got even more competitive as the latest player to emerge onto the airwaves is one of India's leading stations, Radio Mirchi.
The Hindi-language station will stream from the capital, in a "six-figure" tie-up with Abu Dhabi Media, according to Sandeep Sud, Head of Radio Mirchi UAE.
Flying down especially for the launch was Bollywood star Rani Mukherjee, fresh from her current win as Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her film, "No One Killed Jessica".
The Hindi-language station is being touted as the only radio channel that will be heard with complete clarity across all of UAE, streaming across three frequencies: 97.3FM in Abu Dhabi, 88.8FM in Dubai and the Northern Emirates and 95.6FM in Al Ain.
Speaking at the launch, Prashant Panday, CEO of Entertainment Network (India) Limited, which owns Radio Mirchi, said: "Our association with ADM started one year ago, and won't just end with the long-term goal in making our brand the number one Hindi radio station in the market.
"We want to bring the entire gamut of ENL's and Radio Mirchi's services here, including the Mirchi Music Awards or something similar, internet radio programming, mobile applications and other services that appeal to the demographic of South Asians residing in this market."
Speaking to Emirates 24/7, programming head, Sud said: "Radio Mirchi is a brand that is here to make a difference, which was a decision not taken lightly by the parent company in India, considering this is our first international expansion.
Talking about the investment, Sud was noncommital on the figure, simply saying in dirham terms that it was an initial investment of "six figures,", adding: "On paper, our plan to break even is three years, but we are aggressively aiming to do so in two years. That is our personal goal."
Sud also added that all the content will be produced locally, with a lot of research going into designing the shows.
"We have broken it into a five-part day, which will commence at 6am with the breakfast show," he said. "This will be followed by a midday show between 11am and 2pm, which will target the housewives.
"Following this, between 2pm and 5pm will be our Bollywood driven content, titled Totally Filmy. Post which, we will go up to 9pm with our drivetime show until 9pm and then we switch to retro classics up to midnight."
The late hours will play back-to-back music nonstop.
He revealed that all the RJs have been recruited from various Radio Mirchi stations in India, with a total seven who will take to the air.
Also present at the launch were Abdul Rahman Awadh Al Harthi, Director of the Abu Dhabi Radio Network and Malcolm Wall, CEO Abu Dhabi Media.
Speaking about ADM's long-term plan, Wall said: "We are ultimately positioning ourselves as a multimedia company, which aims at performing public service and commercial focus. We plan to continue with that ideology.
Al Harthi added: "Where radio programming is concerned, we are looking at building a future by going 'glocal' - a marriage of global and local content. That is the future."
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