Indian radio is a hot bed for the content crazy. I’ll tell you why in the course of this column. When I get asked why radio in the US, UK or Australia sounds so different, a huge debate often ensues. We always refer to these countries like they are benchmarks when it comes to comparing clothes, music, lifestyle, civic amenities and the like. But the fact is that the medium of radio, especially the one beaming to the numerous towns and cities in this country, cannot be compared with any other nation.
In the countries mentioned above, the advantage for radio is that its people speak one language, English. Every 300 kilometres, the accent probably changes but the language remains the same. In India, every 300 kilometres, not only does the climate change (the biryani also varies in taste), but the language and, let’s not forget, the culture of that town or state. This topographical tango means a lot of work for every radio station in India when it comes to choosing the right content.
The challenge is not in the change of languages, but understanding the heartbeat of the place and its culture. Being ‘public sensitive’ is another imperative quality all stations in this country possess because you never know what could spark controversies and unrest.
In India, in spite of everyone embracing the social media and whatever is next gen, society still remains very traditional. Any out-of-the-box venture, especially sensitive content on religion and politics, is not entertained by any radio unit. These are a few safety precautions that are still tethered to the medium of radio in India.
The fact remains that radio in India is like a kaleidoscope of music, content, languages and entertainment, and is like no other country in the world. Therefore, it would be unfair to make comparisons.
So the next time you catch an international station, remember they might have Tommy, Mickey and Yarn, but humara Bharat mahan!
– Niladri (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The writer’s views expressed here are entirely in his personal capacity.