Ever since FM was privatised a decade ago, there have been noticeable changes in how a station or its presenter speaks to you—and all for the better, I can assure you. I still remember those early days when everyone followed a strict regime, especially when it came to speaking on air in the regional language.
It was blasphemy if the presenter, by accident, spoke a word in English. The whole station would look at him as if he were one of those green creatures that are rumoured to hang around Area 51. Unfortunately, this made things complicated not just for the presenter but also for the listener. When all you needed as a listener was some music to de-stress, you would be subjected to a language class.
This trend was prevalent both at home and up north. A while back, I remember travelling by road somewhere in central India. I happened to catch a Hindi FM station and though I was familiar with Hindi (it was my second language in school, after all) what I heard on the radio was something totally different. It was like the Martians were trying to communicate with me in a mixture of sound and Morse code.
There was a time in the past, and thankfully that’s faded away, when stations flaunted how much they knew about their region’s culture. I think listeners should be given an award for their patience in putting up with all the trial and errors from stations so far. Today the scenario is less stringent. It’s good to hear presenters mix the regional language with bits of English, which actually makes the whole frequency sound more realistic. You’re not given 50 lashes for using the word ‘hi’ or ‘goodnight’, and you are not looked down upon, either.
In the next 10 years, radio in India will merge with the web in some way to give itself a global reach. This will mean a more relaxed, realistic and air-worthy sound. Many stations have already started this process. It remains to be seen who will get there first. See you next week with more radio talk!
— Niladri (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The writer’s views expressed here are entirely in his personal capacity.