Thursday, January 21, 2010

Radio Mania!

Recession being a good reason enough for the company I work to cancel all the office busses, I am now using the public transport to commute to office every day. In a way, it turned out good for me because I travel by Volvo and it is quite comfortable, dust free and aesthetically appealing as well. More than anything, I use my travel time to read books. So I dedicate 4 hours a day on my reading and travelling. At times, when I am not in a good mood to read book or too many calls to attend while I am in the bus, I give my ears to listen to the music on FM. Almost all the Volvo buses are equipped with music players with FM embedded. So I listen to the FM and the PJs being cracked by all the RJs quite often. Sometimes they make me laugh, sometimes they irritate me and sometimes they make no sense to me. But they entertain me for sure. Some of the drivers tend to listen to some old Kannada music always. So as soon as I see the driver, I will know how my journey for the next 2 hours will be. Anyway, I am fine with any RJ and any music to listen as long as I am being entertained.

I believe FM stations are the strong media for mass communication. So, whatever RJs utter and however they behave while running the show will have certain impact on the public who listen to them. At any point of time, they should not forget that they are being heard by the mass, even if they are not seen. Almost all the RJs will be in the edge of their tongue to attract people to turn onto their station. This makes them come up with some innovative stuff. Be it a quiz program or a reality show on FM, all they want to do is to try something new every day. Also, that is how they are supposed to work to counter the competition. But in the recent past, what I observed is that they are trying too much and ending up with some junk stuff which can create havoc in the public. I noticed two such programs during this week that made a negative impact on me. I do not know how others would’ve taken it, but, I certainly did not appreciate them. I actually got shocked and could not believe what I experienced. They just over do things at times.

The first case was when I heard this new program initiated by Radio City 91.1 with the Sandalwood hero Upendra joining the RJ Pra-Dee-Pa on air every morning. He is named as RJ Upendra and they are doing the show called Public-City every morning with him. In this show, they interact with public on variety of topics choosing one topic every day. One such topic for discussion in the public-city couple of days back was ‘Love’. Now, Upendra, being known for his own crazy definitions of love which was showcased in his initial couple of movies directed by him, loved to discuss about this topic without any problem. People started asking questions and sharing their love matters on Air. Out of nowhere, one person called and he said his girl friend denied marrying him because her father did not agree for their marriage. And she is forcefully made to accept some other proposal. The guy kept saying that the girl still loves him but scared to confront her parents. And he asked these two RJs to help him out. Now, I understand they discuss public matters on Air. But, they need to have real guts to discuss private matters publicly. All they could’ve done is to hear the guy completely and tell him some nice words to pick him up from where he is. No! They did not do that. They displayed heroic characters on air. They said they will call the girl and try convincing her and took her number from the guy. The guy was happy and disconnected the call.

Both RJ Upendra and the RJ Pra-Dee-Pa displaying their bravery, called the girl. Initially she refused to admit the fact that she loves the boy. But eventually she confronted that she loves the guy but her dad did not accept the proposal and she was forced to accept some other proposal. She actually refused to talk about the whole issue and asked these two RJs to forget the matter. She also told that she has updated the boy giving enough reasons for not accepting to marry him. But these two RJs did not keep quiet. They forcefully took her dad’s mobile number telling her that they will convince her dad. They called her dad. As soon as he got to know that these guys have called him to talk about his daughter’s love matter, he refused to talk about it. He said he did not like the fact the personal matters are being discussed on Radio and disconnected the call. These guys did not leave him at peace; they called him again and questioned him about the boy. The girl’s dad, out of irritation and anger, agreed to talk about it. He made an interesting point that made these two RJs to shut their silly heroic displays. He said “the boy is uneducated and jobless, how do you expect him to take care of my daughter?”

Consuming all his anger, these two RJs had to end the call without having any lucky break for the lovers. I understand all about love, lovers and weddings. There will be infinite number of problems associated with every story that will have no easy solutions. But, my question is why are they even doing such things publicly? What was the need for them to display heroism? Just because Upendra is a celebrity and people will listen to him if he talks to them? I thought what they did was utterly pathetic and absolutely wrong. It would’ve created more problems to the girl and the boy both. Why do they need to get into the personal matters publicly?

The second case was when I heard the Fever 104 FM today at 7.30 Am. This was the show aired by a lady RJ called Shradha. After a couple of PJs and some good songs, she asked public to call her if they have any problems in life. She offered to make them speak to the Guruji on their problems. I got excited and was curious to know who this Guruji is and what is he going to talk. There was a call immediately from a girl. Her problem was that she was doing nothing in life. When questioned by Guruji to her, she confronted that she could not get through her II PUC exams and she has a back log of 2 science subjects. So it was a real treat for Guruji to speak his words. He asked her a few questions and then I think he immediately looked at her horoscope and told her that she cannot complete any course if she chooses Science subjects. He said she can get through only in Diploma in her life. For that the girl was happy and got excited. He then said that the girl needs to visit one temple (I forgot the name) in Chennai and the other Saraswathi temple near Kumbakonam or some place in Tamil Nadu. If she does that and keep doing regular Pooja to a ‘Saraswathi Yantra’, she will have no problems in her education. The girl was feeling ecstatic after listening to Guruji and she said she will follow all his suggestions.

Well, it was a kind of adrenaline pull for me to believe people still believe in such things. If she has not passed in her exams, it is just that she is not working hard. Also, she seemed not all that excited and interested about her science subjects. So why cannot she do what she likes? What was the need to check her horoscope for things that she cannot do? I do not think she will even pass the diploma if she believes in such crap. All we need to do is to get serious in life and work hard to clear the subjects. And I was very disappointed that the FM station even promotes such things on Air for the public. One end I hear that people are coming out of their blind belief to watch the solar eclipse and the other end I see people believing in horoscope, Guruji and Yantra to clear their academic exams.

It sounds just pathetic!

So, this is the status of our radio stations these days. When all of us are working towards the betterment of the society and nation, these silly things that create more impact on public negatively will never tend to stop. I do not know what others will make out of the above two cases. But I certainly did not like them, do not believe in them and it was outrageous to hear them on air.



Raghu said...

What our FM stations are doing is to just increase their listner base and increase their revenues. That's precisely why they pick up controversial and silly topics to discuss on air.

In fact this discussion starts a Pandora's box as it is not the only media which is doing such things. But even other medias are no less than this.

Until our people realize that these radio stations and other medias are doing all this for their own commercial success, it won't stop.

Narasim said...

Raghu is acute in his observation about how radio stations are driven by ratings.

The two stories that you have narrated are sad indeed. The first one is also offensive because it is an intrusion into the privacy of individuals.

The larger issue is freedom of expression. Freedom of expression means nothing unless we have the freedom to offend.

The matter of what is appropriate has to be determined by standards acceptable to society at any one given point in time. As always, there will be a dynamic tension between what is tasteful and what is not.

My preference is to let the listeners vote with their fingers and turn off the offensive radio programs.

It is much better to have offensive
programs than to have a thought and expression police determine what is acceptable and what is not. Human history is littered with ruling elites controlling the flow of thought and expression. The recent spat between Google and The Peoples Republic of China (how can it be anyone else's republic)is just one example.

I do feel for you that you are subjected to this blather where you have no option to turn it off.

I also wonder why people call such stations and subject themselves to such conduct and advice.

The longer I live the less I understand people.

sunaath said...

The radio hosts in first case resemble village vagabonds sitting at a village katta and offending passers-by. It is too shameless.

SuZ said...

That's why I listen to only the songs on the FM, if any RJ is talking then I switch channels...
I have an IPOD for volovs :D

Sudhi said...

It is not just FM stations but many TV Channels are doing the same thing.

I was watching TV the day when solar eclipse happened, I saw many Swamijis/Gurujis talking about impact of eclipse on individuals life which many people still believe!!! One more sad thing is TV9 which is having punchline "Uttama Samajakkagi" is promoting such programs.

I think we should stop listening/watching such programs, so that FM/TV channels will stop such programs.

Vaishnavi said...

I personally love radio as a medium. It is challenging and takes a lot to actually put out information only through audio. Many years ago (I do not remember when the FM stations came in exactly), everyone welcomed radio with open arms. I think it was the much-needed break from television. Most tuned in to listen to their favourite RJs and many like, for the sake of music. And it was a different way of connecting to the city you live in. I remember the days of Radio City's beginnings. I may have been in school then, not sure. Things were done so creatively, that one wanted to tune in and listen.

Today, a number of problems have cropped up. I would like to disclaim at this point that I do not listen to the radio at all. Neither have I been an AIR listener. There are just too many stations today. They are obviously trying to compete. And the examples you stated are miserable attempts at competition. I think radio stations should buck up and better themselves instead of trying to be 'cooler' than the other on. We as listeners have the power to change channels within seconds and these radio stations need to understand that.

It looks like radio is going the TV way and is ready to do anything for listenership. This is only discouraging for some people (like myself) who once enjoyed listening to the radio (even if for just the music). I can never forget the days of Darius, Sunaina Lal, Saggy, Vasanthi and many more. They were so much more calmer and there was nothing 'wannabe' about them. They had the ability to innovate I think, which today seems lacking or just seems to be going overboard.

Thanks for bringing this issue to the fore through your blog post. Will look out for more such.