In the last couple of years, freelance designer Rachna Sehgal's life has settled into a comfortable routine. Wake up around 7 am, turn on the radio, get the house organised, settle down at her computer at around 9 am to work, work steadily through the day, turn off the radio only in the evening, when she goes out to meet her clients and/or her friends.
"I never saw myself as a music freak, but since I discovered FM, I've discovered that I need music all the time," says Sehgal. "I work alone at home and it can get too quiet. With the radio on however, I hear music, the RJs' chatter, get traffic updates in the evening — and catch up with the latest songs and bands so I can make an informed choice whenever I update my CD collection. Radio has become a big part of my life."
If the heads of any of the FM channels on air were to hear Sehgal talk, they would smile the smile of the vindicated. Because who would have thought, when the government first opened up the FM airwaves so many years ago, that the entertainment medium most urban dwellers dismissed as 'antiquated' would be so very hot now. So hot that, when the information and broadcasting ministry announced a further round of deregulation in 2006, opening up the airwaves to yet more private players in yet more towns across the country, so many companies rushed in to bid that the government collected Rs 1,100 crore in license fees. So hot that, according to a report prepared by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) together with Price Waterhouse Coopers, the Indian radio industry stands to make about Rs 1,200 crores in revenues by 2010.
Obviously, FM is where entertainment is at.