Radio Wars: The empire strikes back

This is part 3, Click here to read parts 1 and 2.

Ok, so we last left off with A new hope in local radio with the rebel alliance now known as Merge 104.8 launching it's attack on the Galactic Empire known as Hi FM. Interestingly, in the background, the Ewoks (90.4 Oman FM) have discovered vocal branding and now have jingles. Still no logo that I've come across yet, but a jingle is ground breaking for the forest people, good stuff, I wonder if we'll ever see a website from them?

Last Tuesday 7th June at 7:00 AM, the Rebel commander, Chris Fisher came on air. My first impression was that he actually came on air at 7:02, and his clock was 2 minutes slow, and apparently continues to be. Perhaps they have a different time zone in Rebel HQ up in Seeb. Chris was, at least to my mind, a little slow starting but seems to have settled into things now. I also find that the DJ's Radio Presenters at Merge seem to be muffled - turn up the gain on the mic guys, or speak louder or something.

To combat the hype of Merges.... emergence (heh) the people at Hi FM have rolled out the very popular Black Eyed Peas competition, and appears to have retained a good many of their listeners in this first week of competition. I note the girls in Darcy's Kitchen the other day were still listening to Hi, as were Glacier Cafe.

And lets now have a real good look at Merge. Their branding is excellent, and their social media campaign seems to be doing well - local blogger Andy in Oman appears to be extremely excited by anything Merge and has blogged a couple of fluff pieces about the new radio station, and, like me and a few other bloggers, has opted to place a Merge banner on his blog. I do also recommend (totally unrelated) his blog on bitching and moaning. Excellent stuff. Merge are even offering people a chance to win RO 104.8 every day - and all you have to do is "like" their facebook fan page. At the time of writing their total "likes" were at 479, I suspect they shall blow past my 820 likers in no time at all. If you happen to be reading this and have "liked" me on the 'book - many thanks :) And if you have not "liked" me yet.... it'd be lovely if you did.... :)

Back to the Rebel alliance. In a rather amusing coup, Merge 104.8 have placed a billboard on the roof of a building close to Hi FM's HQ. When travelling on the Muscat Expressway from Qurum to Khuwair, it looks as if there is a Merge billboard on top of the Hi FM building :)

The music that Merge is playing is pretty much the same as Hi FM in my opinion. OK so I have heard tracks from the soundtrack of Slumdog Millionaire a few times and the odd Hindi track here and there, but essentially it's the same music that Hi FM is playing out. The evenings and weekends are good - I especially enjoyed the 80's stuff on Thursday afternoon and the Friday afternoon chill out too.

I am wondering how on earth Merge are getting away with playing uncut versions of songs on air though. I have heard a fair few swear words while listening in, and in the Hed Kandi show there were a lot of references to drugs that I would have thought should have been edited out. Does Merge have some sort of deal with the Ministry of Information, or have the Ministry just not started listening to them yet? I'd imagine some fines will be levied if Merge carry on... or maybe not? At least boundaries are being tested!

Rummy during the lunch break continues to impress me, it's good to see local talent being given a chance. I wonder if her success will pave the way for other local radio presenters? There has been a lot of hype about Merge's launch, and just like when they finally released Duke Nukem Forever the other day, its been a little disappointing. Just a side note for those who don't know their video games, Duke Nukem Forever has been in production for 14 years, and has been hyped a lot, which makes it hard to live up to.

Now I'm not saying Merge is bad, I'm just remarking that because there was just so much hype over the station, I kind of expected something unobtainable - perfection. I do feel that Sayeh needs to sit closer to the mic than Chris, and that they both have this terrible habit of totally ruining songs by talking all over them. But I acknowledge that this is a style of radio presenting and to be honest they're the professionals, not me.

I could go on and start a critical review of the new radio presenters, Chris, Rummy, Sayeh, Sami and Marcus (from Hi)... but I think it's too early to do that just yet. I do have to say that I think Sami has taken to radio presenting like a duck to water, from the part of his show I did hear last weekend, I was impressed, but was driving to a friends house and so didn't carry on listening. I will also say that I don't mind coming out and saying it: I don't like Sayeh on the radio, it has nothing to do with the music she plays (or the computer plays when she's on) and I find her a nice person to talk to face to face.... I just don't like her style - nothing more or nothing less. Personally I prefer Erins show.

The radio poll we have done here on the blog has now come to a close. I intentionally launched this poll before Merge's launch. My reasoning? There was a lot of marketing and buzz around the new station and regular readers of MM will have known about the station before I posted the poll, I also wanted to establish a benchmark to compare to later on. The results are as follows:

Hi FM took 48% of the vote (95 votes)
Merge 104.8 took 26% of the vote (53 votes)
Oman 90.4 took 9% of the vote (19 votes)
Ipods/Cd players too 15% of the vote (30 votes)

In my crude analysis, this tells me:

1. Hi FM are still dominating amongst you, the readers.
2. Merge have quickly established themselves as a strong alternative
3. More people listen to their ipods than listen to Oman FM

I'll re-run this poll again in a few weeks/month or so and see how the results compare.

Back to you lovely readers: So now we've been merging for just under a week now - what are your opinions on Merge?

le fin.
Radio Wars: The empire strikes back Radio Wars: The empire strikes back Reviewed by Sythe on Sunday, June 12, 2011 Rating: 5



    JK ;P

    Very well written and the poll result is really interesting tbh

    I'm loving the fact that many people's conversations are on Radio now a days and it seeing that they tune in to radio more than listening to their ipods/players; IS AMAZING!!

    Radio has always and will always remain the best way to create someone's experience with Music.

    I am a bit disappointed that you didn't go ahead and rate us #noobs tho!!! Was looking fwd to it ;P

    Best regards to our friends from Min of Info!!

  2. I have been trying it out, There are some good things about it. Though the remake of pitbull in arabic gave me a good laugh, one song I never thoat I would heard in arabic. He did do a song with a Morocco artist if I remember right, or was that Mohambi? I kept getting my hops up when I head Qusai being played as an intro. Who knows if it has been, I have mostly switched back to Hifm. Should be Interesting to see what happens. (side note, anyone who plays Zeppelin or Leonard Skinner has a listener for life :P)

  3. Respect, Mr S - I think it's a little harsh giving Merge the cred of being the rebels, but it all kind of works! Our friend Sami above knows that a credible-sounding review carries a lot more weight than sycophantic whooping elsewhere...and he's an amateur!

    There's hope. I'd like to see one of the existing broadcasters take a second licence and actually offer more targeted product rather than trying to appeal to all. But hey, I also want to own a castle, fit into my old jeans and marry a princess. Let's see what comes first!

  4. It all sounds so different from when there was only Oman FM, which started at 7am and went off air at 10pm every night. No iPods back then either!

  5. To be honest it is a load of fuss over nothing, both stations are at best comparable to UK market town local radio. Chris is better than Darren, and the rest are pretty meh! The music choice on Merge is better, so far we've heard no Justin Bieber which is a plus for my kids. But to be honest if I want music in the car it is CD's or iPod and round the house we use an iPhone app which lets us listen to proper radio stations from round the world.

    I think their advertising money has been well spent and they have got alot of blog coverage, but what about more important things which bother us here, like did you get any response from HSBC re. appalling customer service?

    Then again as someone who is evil, hellbound and shouldn't be a mother, should I be commenting at all????

  6. MQredneck......\m/ ;P

    Desertman.....which is really great to see!!!

    Expatmummy.....Kudos to you for being a sexymummy :D your comments are very valuable for us!! But don't u like JB?! :P

    Linoleum....which do you want 1st? Princess, Castle or Old Jeans?

  7. Sami - FYI my kids hate JB as do most of their mates, like the Jonas Bros and Miley he's had his 5 mins of fame and is in the trash folder!

  8. Thanks for all the comments so far.

    Sami - I'm sure the results when I re-run the poll will show a shift in market share. Time will tell I guess!

    MQredneck - I find I'm hopping between stations more than I used to, and I'm also finding I'm enjoying Faiq more and more... this morning I listened to a track from Top Gun on my way to work. Legendary!

    Lino - I doubt any more licenses will be taken... it takes AGES to get it all approved... but who knows? My gut feeling is that the market is not big enough for another station yet. But who knows? We do have 5 (or is it 6 now) mobile phone providers.

    Desertman - Yup, there's certainly been a lot of advancement in the last 4 years!

    Expat mum - thanks for your comments, and to answer your question about our very good friends at HSBC - no! Their latest line is that I made it all up, and never even went in and asked for a replacement credit card!

  9. Leave Miley alone...pervy dads have feelings too.

    Sami, that's the order right there, but you can put a genre/audience-specific radio choice as level third.


This is a free blog hosted in the USA, comments are not moderated and should be treated as individual observations made by the commenter, they are not the views of the author of this blog unless specifically noted as such (eg a comment posted under the account of the blog owner). Should an individual or company wish a specific comment(s) removed please contact me at mrsythe[at]gmail[dot]com and inform me and I will delete it as soon as I read the email.

Powered by Blogger.