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    Illustrations: Tapas Ranjan

    Illustrations: Tapas Ranjan

    In DECEMBER 2010, the decade- long existence of WorldSpace satellite radio ended in India on a sad and abrupt note. The team running it has since then moved on to create a vibrant multi-platform and multi-genre content space called Timbre Media but the listeners still miss the days when the likes of Manek Premchand would hold fort on Hindi film music.
    Premchand is a film historian, author and radio personality and one of his most cherished memories at WorldSpace was the interview with Lata Mangeshkar, that could not be aired, who had expressed her impatience with today’s songs and said, “Achhe geetkar kahaan hain, hum kya gaayen is vaatavaran mein? (Where are the good poets? What can we sing in this environment?). A similar conundrum befalls RJs today, who are forced to make the best out of a highly limited environment — they must get creative with introducing almost the same line-up of popular tracks everyday with no leeway for music off the beaten track.
    Premchand’s eventful radio career however gave him access to interactions with musical greats including Shiv Kumar Sharma that brought a charm of its own to his show. He still recalls the compliments listeners sent him via email and snail mail.
    Today he misses, “the mystery of speaking to people and not knowing just who they are and how many!” The author of multiple books on cinema now organises musical events, comperes them, writes columns for newspapers but does not tune into FM. He says, “Even when I am driving, I prefer to stay away from drivel, which it is 90 per cent of the time…no, I don’t listen to even Annu Kapoor, who has an imagination more fertile than JK Rowling’s! I think we can play the new music and old, but let’s have originality…the RJs all sound the same.”
    Though he understands that now radio will no longer be just a trivia and music-driven vehicle, he still replays the good old days in his mind and says, “Ameen Sayani is still good.”

    —Reema Moudgil

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