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VIBE setting the trend

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Üülensolongo, the marketing manager of VIBE FM radio. Photo by author

Radio broadcasting in Ulaanbaatar began on 1 May 1931 and three years later, the country had a nation-wide radio broadcast.

The Mongolian Radio, the content of which was controlled by the state and which for more than 70 years, prior to the democratic transformation in 1990, had been almost the sole source of information and entertainment. Today radio has become a public entity and accordingly it’s content and purpose has changed becoming more commercialized with a great focus on advertisement, just like many other FM radios that have sprung up in the country.

“I feel that FM radio listeners today are being literally bombarded by a stream of ads,” said B. Üülensolongo, the marketing manager of VIBE FM radio, who hosts a psychological show over her radio.

“Prior to 1990, for more than 70 years, we had only one radio broadcast in the city, which was primarily party propaganda. And only after democratic changes were made in 1990, we were able to have a free media. The first FM radio was set up in 1995 and today there are some 30 private FM radio stations in the city and since they are primarily business entities, their focus is on generating revenue for their survival and sustainability basically through ads. A veteran Mongolian pop singer D. Bold determined to set a new trend in FM radio focusing more on music and keeping a balance in ads, set up the VIBE FM, and that’s how we have ended with this new FM radio, which is very popular with listeners of all ages,” continued Üülensolongo.

The 36-year-old singer and producer Bold set his foot in the Mongolian music industry in 1996 when he first founded the boys band Camerton. In 2006 Bold launched his “B” music production and on 24 June 2015, just one year ago, opened the VIBE FM Radio targeted at the young audience to become the “tastemaker” in music. He did not stop at this, Bold has recently launched another music TV channel called Channel 11. Both VIBE FM and Channel 11 are part of Bold’s continuous search to bring the best in music to many of his fans.

“Most importantly, VIBE does not broadcast mainstream, commonplace music,” added 21-year-old Dölgöön, who is a student in Taiwan.

Last year the Press Institute of Mongolia conducted a study which revealed that 55.8% of radio listeners are interested in listening to songs and music. The VIBE FM not only airs mix tracks by DJs but also jazz, hip hop, reggae, soul, inde, rock and even a special K-Music show which is not that popular among the radio listeners in the country.

“Not many people understand K-Music and so they are not very fond of it. And so we try to tell our listeners who is behind K-Music and how it is actually made,” continued Dölgöön who proudly claimed that “One of the most important unique features of our radio is to go into ‘behind the scene’ in K-Music.”

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DJ BD at work. Photo ©TMO

Last year on 21 June, the VIBE FM team introduced their own application for young smart phone users.

“The possibility to listen to music anywhere and everywhere using internet-based application is becoming the prevailing trend among the tech-savvy young people today, who are on constant move. This is one big advantage that we are offering to our young listeners in Mongolia. Compared to Youtube, soundcloud VIBE listeners need not search for their favorite sound tracks as we provide them ready-made solution while they are on the go,” said Dölgöön.

VIBE is unique with its rich genre including De la Soul, Stwo, Chance the Rapper, Etta James, Marvin Gaze, Outkast, The Clash, Nujabes Delegation, Bob Marley which are not available on any other FM radios in the country. “In the last 10 years since 2006 when I had been working as a DJ, I have noticed that the knowledge of and taste for music among young people in the country have changed drastically, but the general mass has yet to experience this changeover,” said G. Belegdemberel or GB, the manager of VIBE and the host of the radio’s reggae shows.

VIBE however does not only bring foreign music to its listeners. It’s policy is to maintain more than one half of its content as Mongolian music and in keeping with this policy, it regularly airs such Mongolian bands as Meedee, Taivanbat. L from the band Titem, The Compass, Gee, Desant, Sarantuya, Nisvanis and also invites them for live talk shows. A brand new introduction in their repertoire included the album by a Mongolian band Famous Men which was aired on 23 June.

VIBE has the capacity and the possibility to multiply the taste for music among the general public believe the VIBE FM team. One of its hosts, who takes the public bus for commuting between her home and office, said that popular Mongolian songs are commonly played in the buses but this trend is changing slowly but gradually.

She said, “One day when I was on the bus, our K-Music show was on the air. This was the first time, since I started taking this bus, when we were being listened to. When the bus approached a stop, the driver of the bus after announcing the bus stop would turn up the volume of the music. In this way, the general public is being gradually exposed to the trend-setting music on VIBE FM and this is what is going to bring about ‘real changes’ that we are trying to bring about among our music lovers.”

A change does not happen overnight.

BD the DJ and host of the reggae program said, “In the beginning I used to listen to reggae music all alone. One day I said to myself, why am I the only one listening to this wonderful music and joined a radio where I hosted a reggae program for one whole year, but there was not a single feedback. Suddenly one day, someone called the program saying he wanted us to air a reggae music.” BD then realized that changes do not happen overnight. He also organized a reggae party which was almost a fiasco as only 15 young people turned up for the party. This did not discourage him. He continued with the reggae party and the last one drew a crowd of 500 enthusiasts.

“Reggae lovers take time to understand this genre which conveys the message of love and friendship, and accordingly the change happens slowly too, but the change happens, which is important,” said BD who was so pepped-up with his association with VIBE and its new program which is certainly going to set the trend in new genre of music especially among the young generation, constantly in search for something new and interesting.

 

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