The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bachchan to boom on FM game show

Mumbai, Oct. 3: Big B’s voice will now boom from the radio.

Radio City, the FM channel of STAR Network, will kick off a Kaun Banega Crorepati-type game show with Amitabh Bachchan’s voice playing the host — what if the prize money will only be up to a lakh and Bachchan’s voice will be pre-recorded.

Every morning from this Monday, Amitabh’s voice will toss “bumper” questions at the tuned-in in a programme called Radio City 91 FM Suno Aurr Lakhpati Bano. There will be 10 questions asked from 8 am to 5 pm. Answers can be sent through phone calls or SMS. There will be 10 “bumper” winners, chosen by the computer, and one will be eligible for the “super bumper”, in which he can win up to Rs 1 lakh if he can answer three questions correctly. That’s not a little amount of money, even if one doesn’t get to meet the superstar.

All this because it’s war time for the FM Channels in Mumbai. There are seven FM channels being aired in the city. Apart from the two All India Radio channels, there are five private operators, who launched their channels in April.

“We at Radio City are pulling out all the stops and attempting to offer the biggest and the most unique game on the radio,” says Sumantra Dutta, chief operating officer. He is not alone. In five months, FM channels have become the city’s favourite “timepass” — and the channels are fighting the war of the wavelenghts tooth and nail.

Four of the five private channels have giant media groups behind them: while Radio City is backed by STAR, Radio Mirchi belongs to the Times of India group, Go belongs to Mid-Day and Red belongs to the India Today group. All the media groups have set off their huge publicity machineries; which is creating quite a roar.

And if Radio City has invoked STAR’s own personal media god, Bachchan, or at least his disembodied voice, and is trying to hook listeners with the lure of the lucre, it’s because Radio Mirchi and Win have already started their interactive game shows. Go tries to take advantage of the city’s extensive Page Three set and offers a celeb a day on their breakfast show everyday.

But with seven FM channels at their service, Mumbai’s junta, though it is having a good time, is a little confused. Especially, with the English names.

They call the tiny palm-size transistors, specially designed for FM, simply “Mirchi”, after Radio Mirchi. And even if they are listening to Radio City, also quite popular, they will still claim they are tuned in to “Mirchi”.

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