THE DECLINE OF ROCK
Longtime FM radio icon NU 107 was just the latest in the growing list of radio stations that succumbed to a declining listeners’ base and falling revenues amid the continued onslaught of the Internet.
Last November, NU 107 -- popular among hordes of teenagers and yuppies since 1987 for its rock-oriented programming -- finally closed down.
Banker Atom Henares does not hide the fact that NU 107 suffered financial difficulties, admitting that he was forced to close down the station to cut back on his losses.
During its peak, , NU 107 emerged as the top station in the AB market among commercial radio stations in Metro Manila with a 32% audience share according to the Radio Research Council, Inc.
But as more listeners tuned in to mass-based radio stations, major advertisers soon jumped ship. Shortly before NU 107 closed, the station was languishing at the bottom of the ratings with a 0.30% audience share, ranking 16th out of 21 radio stations in Mega Manila (Metro Manila and suburbs), as surveyed by AC Nielsen.
NU 107 signed off on Nov. 8, 12:05 a.m, with the usual sign-off notice and the playing of the Philippine national anthem.
LOOKING FOR MORE LISTENERS
Listed GMA Network Inc. decided to reformat its flagship FM radio station, dwLS-FM, in February 2007. Originally known as "Campus Radio" with English-speaking disc jockeys, LS-FM renamed itself "Barangay LS," with Filipino-speaking on-air talents dominating the airwaves.
According to a Nielsen Media Research study in 2006, 45% of LS-FM’s radio listeners were 20-29 in age, the highest percentage for that age group among all FM stations.
GMA Network’s Metro Manila radio operations manager Fred Cortez told BusinessWorld that LS hoped to appeal to a wider audience with the change. "GMA’s Radio Group has re-branded its flagship FM station which is now known as Barangay LS.
Just last Sunday, Barangay LS launched on-air programming with a new catch phrase -- "TugStugan Na!"
"At present, we have a decent share of AB and C1 listeners, but the success story lies in the tremendous growth of C2 and DE listeners coming to our fold and staying. Our all-people (across eco-class, gender and age) performance is very good. We are well within the ‘top three’ among FM stations in Mega Manila," Mr. Allona said in a statement. (but on AC Nielsen's survey it ranks 4th)
FILIPINO MEANS MONEY
Based on various radio listener surveys, Elizalde-led 90.7 Love Radio continues to be the leading FM radio station in Metro Manila. Closely following are ABS-CBN Corp.’s FM station Tambayan 101.9, 101.1 Yes FM (another Elizalde-owned station), and Barangay LS.
MBC Radio stations (including its flagship AM station, dzRH, FM 90.7 Love radio and 101.1 Yes FM) achieved aggregate revenues of P585 million, driven mostly by advertising sales.
This is a great feat, considering there are more than 1,000 AM and FM radio broadcasting companies nationwide competing for radio advertising revenues which estimated to be about P10 billion, based on a Nielsen Media Research study.
"Day or night, 90.7 Love Radio has consistently beaten all other AM and FM stations on the Monday-Sunday, 12 midnight-12 midnight daily run. Surveys show that the station has, in effect, created three prime time slots for radio broadcasting, with listeners peaking at the 6-11 a.m. programs... rising again in the 3-6 p.m. slot..., and once more... during the 9 p.m. to 12 midnight slot," MBC said in its sales website.
ABS-CBN’s Tambayan 101.9 has been enjoying popularity by catering to the mass market, following its re-launch in November 2009.
Eli Capuyan, Tambayan 101.9 station manager said the reformat was part of their efforts to remain relevant to the market.
CHASING THE MASA
While the change to more mass-based programming could be seen as a good business strategy for 107.5 Win Radio and Barangay LS, it is not without its critics. An on-line petition against the format of Barangay LS read:
"I truly believe that FM stations, aside from late night news, should be at the forefront of inculcating English proficiency in young adults... now, LS-FM joins GMA-TV News as a media for shallow Tagalog, Taglish (a mix of Tagalog and English) and Pinoy street colloquialism in mainstream broadcasting. .. really sad, that’s how I feel..."
Barangay LS takes the criticism with a grain of salt. "Mainstream or masa FM stations are performing very well in terms of ratings and audience share compared to niche stations. The comedy-talk format is alive and people these days congregate to this kind of programming," the radio station said.
The effort to appeal to a more mainstream market for FM radio took a different spin when Pangilinan-led TV5 late last year launched an FM radio station with news and commentary programming similar to what is heard on AM radio.
92.3 News FM, more popularly known as "Radyo 5" took over a frequency known for niche programming -- it was from Joey @ Rhythms 92.3 in 1998 to 2005, XFM on 2007-2008, and U92 in 2009 to 2010.
Luchi Cruz-Valdes, head of News 5, said the decision to come up with AM radio programming for their FM station is part of TV5’s efforts to provide an alternative to what is already available in the market.
While the long-standing dichotomy of AM radio stations using Filipino and FM radio stations exclusively using English is being challenged, popular FM radio DJ Mo Twister said there is no need to be alarmed.
Courtesy: JEFFREY O. VALISNO, Business World