Indian favourite Radio Mirchi launches in UAE
The UAE's airwaves will receive a spicy makeover with the arrival of the country's newest radio station, Radio Mirchi.
Launched today by Abu Dhabi Media (which also owns The National) with its first broadcast at 6am, and a formal ceremony at Emirates Palace later in the day where the Bollywood star Rani Mukherjee made an appearance, Radio Mirchi's reach extends across the UAE.
While it may be a new player in the UAE, the Radio Mirchi brand (Mirchi means "chilli" in Hindi) is a heavyweight in India, with more than 40 million listeners tuning in daily for its energetic mix of Bollywood music and news .
The UAE station manager Sandeep Sud says the station, broadcasting in the Hinglish dialect favoured by south-east Asian youth and expatriates, will bring its trademark energy to the UAE in what is the brand's first foray overseas.
"Mirchi is all about injecting sunshine into our listeners' days," he says. "Our programmes are designed to be full of fun and energy, our attitude is progressive and we endeavour to offer the hottest mix of entertainment and information."
However, Sud says the UAE station will have its own flavour, with local programming hosted by a mix of home-grown and overseas talent.
"We have invested heavily in research, in order for us to fully understand the radio landscape here, and the demand for music, entertainment and news," he says.
"The brand will bring the authentic taste of Desi radio to the UAE."
The local programmes reflect the station's vibrant outlook: Mirchi Morning will feature the best in Indian music spanning a decade, in addition to Bollywood updates.
The Mid-day Mohabbat programme is geared towards homemakers as the announcer and "super-girl" Yachna dispenses quick-fix housing solutions for the home in addition to playing Bollywood hits from the 1990s and spouting trivia.
The Bumper to Bumper programme is in the afternoon drive time slot and will be packed with Bollywood tunes and world news, while Purani Jeans is a late evening broadcast celebrating Bollywood's golden era.
The Purani Jeans host Farhad Hussein says the station's announcers were excited at the prospect of interacting with new listeners.
"We are aiming to be their favourite radio station," he says.
While his show contains Hindlish interviews and trivia, he is confident classic Bollywood tunes could lure Emiratis, citing the growing popularity of Bollywood films.
"Bollywood has no borders. It's as popular in the rest of the subcontinent as it is in India. And my show is about that part of Indian cinema that is best loved - the classics and the evergreen hits," he says.
"I am hoping that my show will have a huge following across many different communities in the UAE."
Radio Mirchi can be heard on 97.3FM for Abu Dhabi, 88.8FM for Dubai and the northern emirates, and 95.6FM for Al Ain listeners. The National