Agni Puthra Varma chucked his job with a prestigious company to start his own online radio station. Within seven months of its launch, the station has over 50,000 listeners
“Don’t aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally,” David Frost had once famously said. And that is exactly what Agni Puthra Varma did when he created Radio Josh, an online radio station. Launched seven months back, the radio station today has 50,000 listeners from 150 countries.The seeds for his passion for radio were sown in childhood itself, admits Varma. “I have grown up listening to the radio.
My mimicry of what I’d heard on the radio would often earn me compliments from family and friends. This love for the radio drove me to become a radio jockey and eventually launch Radio Josh,” he says.After completing his Bachelors in computer science and an MBA course, Varma went to Dubai to work as an office and IT admin professional with an engineering company. He also worked with MeeRanjani, a Telugu AM radio station that broadcasts in Arab countries, part time.
Over time he had a huge listener following.“It was around this time that I decided to launch an online radio station, after observing the internet trends. I chose the internet as the medium because it has a wide reach and low investment. The reach is not limited to certain locations like any FM and AM radio and the investments are ignorable, compared to starting a FM station,” he says.Talking about funds, he says, “It took me two years to plan and implement this business. I had a dream but did not have the funds to effectively implement it. Luckily, I shared this idea with Saritha (IBM, Singapore), who was a regular caller on my radio show.
She came forward and supported me without even knowing me. I started the station in late 2011 with an investment of `2 lakhs. However, over time, we have invested around `10 lakh to build the company.”“We play quality music by streaming at 128 Kbps with 5.1 surround sound. However, many online radio stations only play at 32 or 64 Kbps with a mono output. Also we limit our advertising to four to five times in a three hour-slot to make listeners stick to the radio,” he says.Fortunately, the revenues have been picking up for the radio station. “Initially, we thought that we would only earn revenues after a year but growth in listeners had brought advertisements from various textile retail stores, jewellery outlets and telecom companies from various countries like USA, Dubai, Australia. There are also advertisements from local businesses in Hyderabad, Vizag and Anantapur.
The company now has a tie-up with Andhra Mirchi, a radio station in USA for content syndication. They telecast our two hour live content for a fixed monthly payment,” he says. The company now plans to launch RJ data cards in collaboration with mobile internet providers to increase their base in Dubai. “This will enable a person to listen to our station even while he is travelling. We also had a tie-up with Voice Service to bring radio to mobile phones.
The listeners can soon listen to our station on their phones by dialling a number.” Currently, Radio Josh has 15 employees and plans to add another 10 employees for starting online Malayalam, Kannada and Tamil radio stations. The company is also starting an exclusive Telugu station for Dubai and Australia. It is expecting a break even by the end of the year by aiming to reach 1 lakh listeners per day.On the personal front,Varma enjoys listening to music by Ilayaraja, SPB, AR Rahman and writes poetry.