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Bit chatty, Indian women's radio meows

India's first women-only radio hits the airwaves, promising to play the perfect agony aunt to the modern Indian woman and offer a spot where she can talk.

business Updated: Jun 03, 2007 22:50 IST
Onkar Pandey

India's first women-only radio has hit the airwaves, promising to play the perfect agony aunt to the modern Indian woman and offer a spot where she can talk, share and gossip in between some film music.

Called "Meow", the new FM station airs programmes that concern only women's issues be it about work, home or marriage or a harmless dose of lighter talk on fashion and movies.

Instead of a regular hi or hello, the station that opened last week greets callers with a catty "meow" as an instant ice-breaker.

"Meow can translate to any emotion, it makes you uninhibited and breaks the ice faster," said Anil Srivatsa, chief operating officer of Meow radio.

"In real life we all have secrets. We talk about it and bring it into the open. The anonymity of radio allows that."

Now available only in New Delhi, Meow radio hopes to eventually target the urban Indian woman from the traditional housewife and career woman to the single mother and the youngster in all the big Indian cities.

An auction of around three dozen FM licences in 2000 started what is now being called India's "radio boom", with the number of stations set to swell by about 245 as the country implements the second phase of its FM expansion plan.

The deregulation of airwaves has led to intense competition among radio stations, each vying to attract listeners with various programming packages and marketing gimmicks.

"Meow" radio, whose catch line reads Thodi Meethi, Thodi Catty or a little sweet, a little catty, hopes to attract listeners with programmes on family, marriage, kids and adult issues like affairs and sexual taboos and problems.

Its late-night show "Meow between the Sheets" is already quite popular.

"We are for the women who think and everyone else who think about women," said Srivatsa.

"Every woman wants to let loose and unwind, we provide that platform."

But some media analyst doubt if the approach will work for the new station.

"It sounds like a gimmicky channel mainly for the young and trendy," said media columnist Sevanti Ninan.

The radio station's other uniqueness is its policy of airing every caller interaction live and unedited.

"We don't fake, we have real views on real issues," said Srivatsa.

"It's a real-life drama and everyone wants to be part of it."