There is a reason why leaders of various nations address their public on radio. They want their message to be accessed by all—whether on a plane, a train or an automobile. That’s the beauty of the medium, which hasn’t been recognised much here. Radio in India is a commercial pothole as deep as the Mariana Trench. The money spent to build a radio unit in India, and the expenses that follow, are unfortunately humongous and that’s one of the reasons why stations are married or rather are a slave to the commercial market.
It’s been over 10 years since private radio stations kicked in and the road that most are on or are travelling to is called Highway Monotony. There is so much that the medium misses out on with respect to creating awareness. For example, the recent floods in Kashmir or Cyclone Hudhud. When these disasters took place, one would have expected the medium to step up and do something. Yet very few reacted and life went on.
I’ve noticed this in many stations and I’m sure most tick the same way: it’s their belief in formats. Would you like to wear the same clothes every day, eat the same food and meet the same people? Well, formatting a radio station makes the listeners feel that way. Radio isn’t a circus with rehearsed acts and acrobatic displays; it’s about airing relevancy. If that is missed out because of a format then the problem lies right there, your honour.
On radio, there is so much of rubbish that becomes a rage. There was a time when characters would pop up like gremlins and talk utter nonsense and that would be regarded as the funniest radio moment for that station. Terrestrial units should take a few lessons from web radio stations on how one should sound and, most importantly, about listener experience. The easy listening era has disappeared and when it was present, it was simply because of the absence of formats.
See you next week with more radio talk.
The writer’s views expressed here are entirely in his personal capacity.