Reinventing Radio – a Chat with Ramesh Sankey

There was this old classic that perfectly described the issue that radio faced with TV in the Disco ‘70s and Rocking ‘80s. It goes: Video killed the radio star! It sounds painful and provocative but the scenario never came to pass.

When digital entered the fray, radio was one of the first to take advantage of it to extend its brand footprint. Unlike the song, radio has evolved with the times and continues to entertain a growing audience that has not stopped demanding for more.

Marketing Magazine caught up with Ramesh Sankey, Director of Astro Radio, to find out if radio will become a waning force. Having seen how the radio scene has changed from when he first joined the industry, he firmly believes that radio has already cemented its place in the digital era and its set to grow further.

Just like Queen’s ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’, nothing can get in the way of the radio as it pushes forward. 23 years on, our audience has grown larger and stronger, with 16.7 million Malaysians tuning into one of our brands every week, whether on-air, online, or via mobile.

Being in the radio industry for 20 years, how have you seen radio evolve?

I joined the radio industry in 2000, starting my career in the promotions team. They were exciting times , although commercial format radio was in its infancy. Even then, it was driving innovation and I was fortunate enough to be a part of that era.

AMP radio as it was known then pioneered the introduction of street teams ,campaigns like the HITZ Fugitive and annual events like the MY Birthday Bash.

From those early and exciting days to now, I’ve seen radio in Malaysia grow from being a mere platform into brands that live seamlessly in the social and mobile space, creating an experience daily and taking consumers on a journey.

At Astro Radio, our focus has always been on building relatable brands and creating content that Malaysians love. The proliferation of digital has not come at the expense of radio. In fact, we’ve seen consumption of radio in Malaysia grow in the last GfK Radio Audience Measurement study.

23 years on, our audience only grew larger and stronger, with 16.7 million Malaysians tuning into one of our brands every week, whether on-air, online, or via mobile.

What do you love most about radio?

For me, radio’s personal and conversational nature is what makes it alluring. I truly consider our ability to speak to Malaysians daily a privilege. It’s something that we take very seriously.

We know that radio is considered the most trustworthy and authentic source of information amongst Malaysians. So it’s never just been about how many people radio reaches, it’s absolutely about the quality of the reach and the connection we have with our fans via the experience we create.

What is your vision for SYOK?

SYOK is our (Astro Radio) new ‘content superapp’, with a little something for all Malaysians.

A key reason for radio’s ability to stay relevant and ingrained in people’s lives today, is because it can now be consumed on-the-go via mobile devices.

In fact, we launched our first mobile app 10 years ago in 2010. Since then, we’ve rolled out individual apps for all our 11 brands; all of them are now generating about 14 million digital streams every month.

SYOK is a way for us to consolidate our strengths and showcase our multi-platform content. Users get to stream our 25 radio channels, watch original videos, listen to our Original SYOKcast podcast network, and win exclusive prizes and experiences.

In short, the goal for SYOK is to be present in every Malaysian’s mobile – not for the sake of it but because of the quality experience and high-standard of content we create. It’s a big one but it keeps us honest in our endeavour to continuously amp up the experience.

Looking towards the future – Where do you see Astro Radio in the years to come?

Malaysians today are tech savvy. They are also socially and mobile connected, and we know we have to be too if we want to continue to engage with our audience.

Our numbers today are encouraging and growing, but we will continue to innovate and adapt along with our fans. Relevance, Topicality, and Accessibility will be key to achieving this and we’re confident we can!

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The APPIES is an annual event that presents a rare opportunity for creative, media, digital and marketing agencies or brands to present their best campaigns to the industry.

This is the only event where Live Presentations meets Live Judging.

Similar to TED Talks, The APPIES is the chance for great presenters with outstanding work to show it off to some of the industry’s most important industry leaders.

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APPIES Festival – Judging & Presentations
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