For the past decade or so, Manila Broadcasting Company‘s 90.7 Love Radio reigned as the No. 1 radio station in Metro Manila. More recently in their station IDs, they promoted 90.7 Love Radio and 101.1 Yes! FM, both of whom were owned by MBC, as the top two radio stations in Metro Manila. This was according to various surveys conducted in the past two years.
But why they have been able to reign atop the surveys the past few, if not many, years? Many point out to its clear and polished sound, toilet humor, high power and reach, and an automated playlist consisting of old classic rock love songs, novelty hits, and OPM favorites. While rival 102.7 Star FM started the ‘masa’ station craze in the late 90s, it was 90.7 Love Radio and 101.1 Yes! FM who took it to the next level, prompting several stations (e.g. 97.1 Barangay LS FM, 107.5 Win Radio) to embrace the ‘masa’ concept as well.
Despite the survey that stake their claim, I believe neither 90.7 Love Radio nor 101.1 Yes! FM deserved to be in the top two. Both stations typify the cheapskate radio station: playlists that have fewer songs and are played repeatedly, and DJs and on-air characters that often pull out various forms of cheap humor. In addition, they were in the top two unfairly because of their high broadcast reach, something that other stations could not afford. In short, for all their claims as the No. 1 and No. 2 stations, they are still classified only for the ‘masa’ audience, and that their unfair advantage should not be taken for granted.
The real and sophisticated radio stations in Metro Manila today play more recent hits on a daily basis, and then reserving classic songs on specific days only. On some points of the day DJs talk about topics that interest people, and oftentimes interact with them through an open forum. Sometimes promos announcing an upcoming film, event or prize are included as well. Such radio stations include Magic 89.9, 99.5 Play FM, Monster Radio RX 93.1 and Mellow 94.7, among other stations.
Unfortunately, some radio stations reformat because of loss of audience share and the need for more advertising money. This was the case when NU 107 became Win Radio when it became apparent that a rock-oriented radio station cannot compete anymore due to loss of operating funds and competition from other sources. There is a reason why several radio stations became ‘masa’: new technologies such as the internet, MP3 downloads and the iPod, threatening the radio business as a whole.
In the end, it is hard to prevent the proliferation of ‘masa’ stations in an attempt to undermine the so-called ‘success’ of Love Radio and Yes! FM. Still, as long as there are a dedicated number of radio stations playing music that caters to a higher class of society, radio’s balance of power will be tipped on an even scale.