Business and Life : Radio Stations and Waning Attention Spans

This week, we are running a new series where we look at seemingly small adjustments that businesses are making to their offering, and try to reverse-engineer their insights and examine what they mean for us as consumers. Our observations will be followed by questions as we want you guys to pitch in and tell us what you feel about the issue. So go ahead and raid the comments section.


Some of the radio stations in Mumbai have lately started doing this new thing before they play any song. They pick the main lines of the song and play them before playing the song from the start.

One possible explanation for this is that listeners probably switch channels in the time that a song warms up. If the listener is not able to recognize the song, the trigger-happy fellow simply goes elsewhere. So the stations have resorted to this strategy in order to increase the stickiness of its listener, in a market characterized by homogenous offerings and very little in terms of customer loyalty.

What does this sort of behavior say about the listener? Is he so averse to discovering new music that he switches stations the moment he cannot identify what song it is? No wonder then that all our channels play popular Hindi film music, without exception – not because it is a genre in itself – Honey Singh and Ghulam Ali are both consumed as long as they are singing for a film.

Why is it though that the listener is so averse to new music? Is it because on the way to a dreary office or on the way back from an exhausting day, stuck in painful traffic, all the energy to sample something new has been drained out? Is it because there is no drive left to embark on a new experience?

Why don’t you tell us?

Is there a better explanation why radio stations have started this? And if it is what we think it is, what does it say about the listener? And hence, about his work and his life?

Or are we completely wrong?