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My love affair with Radio

As a kid my mom used to tell me how they tuned in to radio on specific timings to hear their favorite programs as kids, just like I used to wanted to tune in to TV programs.
Time passed. And I was in college. Leaving for college meant being home alone for a blissful couple of hours - my Mom had to leave really early. That was the time I used to get ready, continue to read the book I was into at the time, or even prepare for exams when required. TV was out of the question -it wasnt interesting enough eitherway. Radio came to the rescue. Whether I took a bath or read a book, ate my breakfast or meandered through different rooms of the house, I could hear the radio. A self operating jukebox, the radio was my ticket to uninterrupted music in the mornings. There was no need to select a cassette (those were days when CDs were almost unheard of) or music, or worry about changing its sides. The radio jockey would do all that for me, and talk about some trivia too, if I were keen on listening.
The best part was, the radio was worth listening to. Medium Wave was the rage usually, but on FM there was the All India Radio channel - AIR FM Radio - government owned which turned out a lovely collection early and late in the day. They used to play English songs in the morning followed by some old Hindi ones for the home staying crowd. And evenings were sure-shot 80s rock. This was the place where I first heard Clapton crooning Cocaine and Fools in their Gardens worrying about some Lemon tree, amongst others. Dire Straits was another common and much-loved one. Certain days of course, were dedicated to Boney M, ABBA and Carpenters. But it was rare that I could make time in the evenings. Mornings, on the other hand. Wake up, say Bye to parents and Switch on radio. Simple three-step short process. The first few songs used to dissolve my sleep along with my glass of milk, and then used to give me company wile updating me about the goings on in the music world. Right from the Billboard top 20 to random list of "new" songs, you heard it all on Radio. And begad! if anyone copied the song from somewhere, the RJ would inform you of that too. Hindi 'inspirations' included.

The RJs in Calcutta at that time had a certain respect. Our college fest was covered by AIR FM, and boy did we look forward to seeing what those amazing voices looked like in real life! (Most turned out to be 35+ long haired men, but on radio who cares).

Thus was entrenched in me the need for a musical morning with loads of news & trivia thrown in. Since then a simple music player wasnt fun enough.

MBA was fairly simple. Get up and run to class. You were lucky if you managed to brush your teeth. But when I joined work life, the first thing I bought was an FM player. Though the TV used to be on Channel V or MTV, they simply didn't cut it as far as I was concerned. For one, TV has too many visual ads. For other, there is no RJ spewing city news there. Its too generic for the country. Radio Mirchi saved my soul, and hands. (from constant song choosing on CD)

Back to radio it was, and that's how I got my dose of latest Hindi music, not just Bollywood, but definitely modern Hindi. Radio Mirchi was no AIR FM Calcutta, but it was good enough for me in Ahmedabad (The AIR FM there was pathetic). Also, I got to know where the traffic jams were, who was in town and out, and of course, the unwanted cricket score. I seriously fret over the lack of 'good music', but what was served wasn't too bad, as long as it was live. The RJ's again, thankfully, were decent and Good Morning Ahmedabad did a lot for my GK. Yes, I missed Archana when she quit and left the city - one of the few women RJs on private channels who dont have a squeeky/ shrieky/ extra husky voices (esp coming from Gujarat), and knew what she was talking about while interviewing people. For eg, I do not remember hear her ask a winner "How do you feel". Then came Harsh, and though extra-jovial I soon got used to him. I still missed some rocking music, and on some days listened to my personal music collection.

Mumbai was a different story altogether, I thought. It was a long time since 2001 (my last yr in college) and India had seen rapid penetration of the FM frequencies with a zillion channels. Some had started and have closed without people noticing I'm sure. Mumbai offered a host of radio channels for my eagerly waiting ears. So daily I tuned up and down the frequencies looking for a channel which would play music different from the others. To my tired ears however, they all sounded the same. They were manned by a "couple RJ" - one male and one female, who talk more amongst themselves in very normal octaves (nothing interesting or soothing). More often they tried to drown each others' voices, and laugh at private jokes to which the listener feels like a third person politely included. The music was never introduced - but just a by-product of the conversation or (horror) listener requests. It was the same all over - about-to-release-movie songs with an interview of the song writer/ director/ actors thrown in on Thursday/ Fridays. A number of contests to woo listeners, where they call in and answer inane questions. They all also sported almost similar bandwith - ranging from 98 to 107 and are as difficult to find as listen to. They all have either "do gaane back to back" (two songs, back to back), or "teen patti" (3 cards - a game), or "40 mins of non-stop music" - 'only on X-channel'. But few things remained same - Traffic news, cricket scores and choice of music.

I tried in vain, and found among all the channels the same songs at different timings - trash. Sometimes you liked the songs, but even then listening to the same song three times the same morning on the same channel can get to anyone. Then one Saturday I found this channel talking about 'International Saturday'. A day when they would play only All-world popular music. Boy was I excited. However, I soon found that this music usually meant a lot of hip-hop. Or unheard-of country music - probably ones whose licenses had expired!

Then I decided to try my old gem - AIR FM. Surprise! it was now AIR FM Rainbow.And the music, it was manna to me. The RJs all seem to have passed some exam for degree in music information. They have deep voices and good diction - though some are still new and stutter a bit when trying to talk fast. And, they play only english songs (at that particular time). Preferably, from 80s. Rock. Some days they play songs like Flashdance. And on some they talk about a rock artist and play two of his pathbreaking songs. Rarely do they play Bryan Adams (hallelujah!). But most importantly, they know their music and they tell you who sung it. They do not give traffic updates but they dont run contests either. They still talk about cricket scores though, and once in a while you get to hear the "BBC Minute" of news - in Hindi and English back-to-back. But its a good news capsule. Its non repetitive and rarely do I hear Akon or Shawn or whoever on this frequency.

Its a radio channel that gives me faith on FM Radio in years to come. With all the other 10+ channels spewing out the same stuff, it is nice to hear one channel that still plays music. I do listen to the other channels too - variety is the spice of life you see - but AIR FM Rainbow keeps me with Radio.

And Radio still wakes me up like a fresh strong cup of coffee every single morning.

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( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
2nd Apr, 2008 18:07 (UTC)
i love the radio as well, in fact i am tempted to write a really long comment to this lovely post of yours but have chosen to write a post instead, since i havent written for a long time. Plz look it up at my blog.
3rd Apr, 2008 05:49 (UTC)
luvly post! :)
3rd Apr, 2008 06:47 (UTC)
Re: :)
^^ thanks!

And I see you have remembered your password. Congrats.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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