A chance mention of World Radio Day on radio made me take those two battered and bruised portable radio sets down to town for repair. To begin with, no one repairs radios anymore and secondly new radios are hard to find. Undeterred by the pathetic comment ’Radioche dis gele’ and determined not to be denied the just pleasures of static, I set off in search of my holy grail. I walked into an electronics shop and there on the counter -- somewhat sheepishly – were 3 radios by the Dutch giant. Overshadowed by the hulks on the wall -- the HD LED LCD TV screens -- these handheld radios looked demure as brides, but packed a punch!
I finally settled on the steel grey which boasted of Medium Wave (MW); Short Wave (SW), Frequency Modulation radio (FM) and even a TV band. The metre band stretched from 19m to 60m corresponding to 520 kilohertz (khz) to 1600khz. The shiny aerial telescoping into itself promised the required boost for a low signal. I was ready to take on the world!
And the world it is. Wherever you may be, radio provides a source of knowledge, news, entertainment and perspective. Early this morning I listened to a programme on Kabir on Akashwani on MW. Nevertheless I have usually been a short wave buff. British Broadcasting Coporation (BBC) from London offers the news at 7 a.m. followed by ‘Outlook: Stories from around the World.’ Voice of America (VOA) broadcasting from Washington brings in stories about the USA and its activities worldwide. China Radio International (CRI) broadcasts from Beijing – you can even learn Chinese. All of these radio stations are on SW and have their own websites. All state owned radio stations project a usually positive image of their country, its achievements, culture, personalities and global impact. My favourite programme on BBC used to be ‘Letter from America’ by Alistair Cooke. These ‘letters’ have now been archived by the BBC.
Come rain or shine, radio announcers have to be at their stations at the appointed hour for their live broadcasts. They have a huge fan following and can quite swing the popularity of a station. I cut my teeth as a radio announcer for English programmes at the Panaji station of All India Radio (AIR) in the eighties. At AIR, New Delhi we had a 5-day week. To beguile the time I used to do one of the AIR shifts over the long weekends. I learnt precision, commitment and endurance. The night shift was from 6 p.m.--11 p.m. If I was doing the morning shift (5.55 a.m. to 9 a.m.) the AIR car used to pick us up at 4.30 a.m. from home in the biting winter cold.
World Radio Day on February 13 was proclaimed by UNESCO as recently as 2011. Radio, according to www.unesco.org remains the medium that reaches the widest audience worldwide. This year there is a push to use this medium to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment.
Published in Weekender Gomantak Times, St. Inez , Goa on 23 February 2014. Pix courtesy www.thecommentator(dot)com