Is it Sleaze? Is it Shock? No, it’s Srivatsa!
Internet Radio bypasses much of the red tape that regular terrestrial radio stations have to deal with. With no censorship and no restriction, it makes for pretty interesting listening. Bangalore’s online stations are having a ball. Longtime Bangalorean, Anil Srivatsa, founder of Radiowalla speaks to us about the station and his racy show 'Between The Sheets.'
When do you air 'Between The Sheets'?
It’s a late night show. When a person’s completely alone and has the mental space for introspection. When one can feel positive and face the larger issues of life. The show makes people think.
Who is the humour targeted at?’
An average age group of 18-24, but we have audiences studying in the tenth grade and younger. And callers pushing thirty as well. It’s interaction that brings the emotional, sexual and psychological needs of an individual into focus. The humour is intended to make the caller or audience smile, because that’s when someone feels lighter and opens up to the discussion.
I will tell you something... parents try to teach the best they know, but I’d say there is an understanding gap, not a generation gap between them and their children. If the girl or boy goes to their friends they will only receive half-baked information about issues they are facing in matters of sex and relationships and so on. This is an Internet radio station and youngsters are into Internet a lot. When I make them smile they are actually letting their defences down and absorbing information. It is helping them think.
How would your typical listener relate to the show?
It’s a late night show when a person is completely alone from the hustle of everyday life and can introspect.
Would you call yourself a Shock Jock?
That is what people used to call me in America. My topics may be shocking to some. If my use of humour or the content itself shocks people I don’t think I can help it.
You also use euphemisms like "doing it", the 'O' word, 'helmet' and so on. Are you being censored?
These words are innuendos and the censorship is self-imposed. I was trained in America and I know that I could use normal terms like penis, condom, vagina but I cannot say dick, pussy and so on. Here I use these innuendos because it’s humourous and because there’s the matter of decency. I do not see any need to offend people.
What are the three most talked about shows that you have aired so far in Between The Sheets?
They would be on orgasms, child sexual abuse (we have had survivors calling too) and suicide.
What about gay issues?
We are introducing special show for LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) and looking for suitable RJs as well.
I heard you make fun of someone once, saying they should have sex at least once a week. Are you judging those who don’t?
I am not judging anyone or arriving at any conclusion. It’s a discussion to make people think. If I am making fun of a caller who is not having sex once a week it’s only to make the person feel light about it. What the person does in his or her life is completely personal and I have no interest in that. I am initiating discussions.
Your inspirations come from?
Much of from my own life and personal experiences. The show seems light and fun but they are actually dealing with serious topics. On my father’s death anniversary, I would do a show on managing grief. I myself can relate to it more. My life has been a lab full of experiments. I have tried almost everything except drugs. So I interact with full conviction. I am not judging anyone. I often decide on the content an hour before the show, there is no telling. It’s spontaneous.
Are people offended by your questions?
Yes. Replies like, 'You lucky bastard.' (He says smiling.)
I find that many of your topics are actually inspired from Cosmo magazine?
Yes you're right and even newspaper articles or surveys. I make sure it is contextual to the times we live in.
Do the cultural background, age, neighbourhood of these callers matter?
Problems are problems and they are real. I don’t know where they’re from and I don’t ask.
Do you leave many callers craving for more? How do they get back to you if they are not satisfied with your answers?
I stick to the discussion point of the show and ask them to write to me. I do not give them my mobile number.
What's your business model?
The first is Spot Radio. The music played in a Café Coffee Day or a Puma store is actually sourced from us. The second is Radiowalla, an internet-radio consumer brand where we have shows like ‘Art Of Living’ and ‘Between The Sheets.’ We focus on a niche audience.
When will Internet radio overtake terrestrial radio?
Internet radio will have more market share. That will happen by people tuning in to content that FM can’t deliver.
How many listeners do you have currently?
More than 25,000.
Your studio looks expensive. How much to set up?
About Rs. 20- 25 lakh.
Did you have an investors? Who?
Ojas Ventures and the station’s co-founder Harvinder Bhatia.
Do you make money? How?
We have subscriptions. Radiowalla Networks has Spot Radio that makes money through retail store radio like PUMA. Radiowalla on the other hand gets ads by integrating marketers. By that I mean creating content relevant to the products like Maruti Swift or Axe. They have their own stations with Radiowalla’s help.
What's the split in revenues between Spot Radio and Radiowalla?
I am not comfortable in discussing it.