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Stoic voices of the good old medium is just a memory now

Talking is fun, especially when you do it to a machine that does not talk back. Now just imagine if we did that and got paid for it? Aah, the joys of being a radio jockey. I remember my grandmother who was India’s first female Telugu radio jockey, or ‘announcer,’ as she was called back then. They were poised, formal and informative. Serious was the word, I think.
Cut to the FM days, what we have is an era of informal, chatty ones who revel in rambling. Talking nineteen to the dozen and keeping the airwaves busy. Radio jockeys can talk non-stop in a mix of three different languages on any topic from utilities to birthday wishes, preachy self-help quotes and hypothetical and irrelevant questions. No, I am not confessing. This is a random observation and the good side of this is that there is tremendous creativity in speaking for just a minute and a half and conveying half a dozen things with plenty of humour too.
Picking up what is trending, connecting it to the day, mapping it to a listener’s mood is all part of this highly challenging and fun job. For most who enjoy it, this is not even a job. The new word is infotainment. From a traditional government medium with a stoic expressionless voice and long gaps to the trend in FM radio now is a million expressions, plenty of giggling and a natural tease into the song.
Previously, there was a long pause between words. Today, faster the merrier. The medium itself reflects fast-moving times and a futuristic outlook from what was a deep breath into the moment, a few decades ago. A time check now reflects  the listener‘s mindset. The morning show host of the FM radios often remind you with a chirpy “Hellloow, time to decide what colour outfit to wear to work. It is 8.15 am already. Go, go, go you lazy bones.” Then of course we get to chat with superstars (thanks to movie promotions), mayor of the city, with a doctor on Doctors Day, with a rapper on World Music Day and a plumber on World Toilet Day. Every day seems interesting and purposeful now. Recently, I even heard about the day in the life of a barber on Barber’s Day. I must say it was interesting.
No wonder that radio has always been the theatre of the mind and is living its potential now. Traffic updates have become exciting. Traffic jams have become bearable for morning and evening commutes. Even commercial breaks, although irritating, have become interesting with audio drama, custom-made for the weary listener. Although I miss the good old times and the soft voice that came with Geetmala, Sangeet Sarita and Janaranjani, life is a fun ride while on the go.

Swapna Sundari
—  The writer is a popular TV show host, radio jockey, professional singer… and most importantly, a hardcore Hyderabadi)

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