It was four-and-a-half-years in the making, yet the founders of 106.3 FM Radio Olive and Suno 91.7 FM followed through on their vision to deliver the first Indianlanguage radio stations in Qatar. Providing an infotainment service in both Hindi and Malayalam, the country’s newest on-air sound has slowly but surely come to fruition. FACT caught up with Managing Directors Krish and Ameer Ali to learn more about how their passion project became a success…
You can immediately feel the creativity when you walk into the offices of Radio Olive and Suno FM. The walls are adorned in pop-art style motivational quotes, retro Bollywood memorabilia and cool, colourful art that reflects the vibrant and diverse culture of India. We take a seat in a meeting room that boasts a detailed timeline of the radio – all the way from Tesla to the era of the Great Depression and through to the Digital Age of Internet Radio. As a visitor, this already sets the scene – these guys really know what they’re doing. And, by the looks of it, they’re not afraid to have some fun along the way!
First and foremost, what is Radio Olive and Suno FM? The first is a Hindi FM station and the latter is broadcast in Malayalam. However, what makes them above average is the fact that both have created a milestone in the history of Qatar by being the first private Indian-language stations to be aired in and from the country. This milestone is thanks to three gentlemen who had a vision and followed through on the plan; Ameer, Krish and Satish. “We are very passionate about radio,” Krish says. “The people that we work with here are extremely passionate too – it makes us doubly proud and we love to be in the office. What we believe in is not ‘I’ but ‘we’ – that’s the entire concept that we’ve created here,” he adds. “So, nobody is the boss here, we’re all working hard.”
Seeing that Qatar presented a big opportunity to conquer a new, exciting and growing market, both Radio Olive and Suno FM cater to a huge vacuum of the Indian community; 1.6million listeners to be precise. This accounts for around 68 to 73 per cent of the population – a large proportion of Qatar’s residents. “We’re thankful to the government and His Highness for giving us this opportunity,” Krish tells us. “We see a lot of potential here where we can create awareness of the country, its events, the culture, and the products that are here. We see that it has a very positive market,” he continues. “Our local partners are very supportive and so are the ministries who reach out to us and want to work on different initiatives to reach our audience.” With the best of On-Air talents and production teams on board, Radio Olive aims to provide the most interesting, up-to-date and relevant information, music, and entertainment to the diaspora from the Indian Sub-Continent.
“The power of the radio amongst Asian expats is very strong,” Ameer says. “They are a community that is very close to the culture of listening to the radio.” “That’s right,” Krish adds. “People who are maybe living alone in Qatar, here for work, they listen to the radio and they pick up the phone to call the RJ, because they feel like there is somebody they can talk to, there’s an emotional connection,” he explains. The beauty of Radio Olive and Suno FM is that neither touches on any religious or political matters. Instead, what they concentrate on i the concept of infotainment. With everything from safety reminders on wearing your seatbelt when driving, not to speed or talk on the phone, to details about what’s happening in Qatar and where and when to get involved in activities and events, and even creating opportunities for listeners – Radio Olive and Suno FM’s audience is one that craves accurate information and thought-provoking entertainment.
Being just four-months-old, both stations have been very quickly accepted by Qatar listeners but also people as far as Hong Kong and the USA calling in to talk with the RJs. As a result of its fast-growing popularity, the team has invested greatly on the three “O” model – On Air, Online and On the Ground. “So most of the events that we create on air, we try to culminate them with a ground event,” Krish says. “We give it exposure on social media – for example we now have an exciting concept “Fly with the RJs to Turkey” – we’ve associated with some airlines and we’re taking around 65 to 70 people along with our RJs to spend around five days in Turkey.”
One of the team’s biggest signs of acceptance came when they signed a deal with Ooredoo to become the first radio station in the Gulf that is now available for streaming on the TV. They also have a mobile app for those who want to listen on-the-go. By tapping into all mediums, Radio Olive and Suno FM make sure that there is a continuity for listeners – from the car, to work, at home and even when they travel. One thing’s for sure, with an incredibly dedicated team that knows how to balance work and play, Radio Olive and Suno FM are fantastic ambassadors for bridging cultural gaps and representing the diverse Indian community in Qatar. Watch out for them in 2018… the only way is up!