The Heart Of The Indian FM Radio Business

Published Thursday, January 31, 2013

At the heart of radio is a sensitive media that reflects the mood of its listeners. Unlike any other form of mass communication, radio makes it it’s business to mirror the people’s feelings. When its a good day and low news then its games and fun but when the chips fall and backs are against the wall then radio comes in to its own as the cliché goes.

There was a time about 10 yrs in Mumbai when tragedy happened. Bombs were exploded by terrorists and people feared for their lives, it was a genuine catastrophe. It was not a time for idle slapstick banter on air it, was a time to join hands with listeners and make them feel better, make them feel that in Mumbai of all places, people matter. The need was to give people back the power they feared they may have lost.

A day after the bombs exploded all the radio stations were still scurrying around trying to do the right thing. What was needed was a gesture of unity in a frightened city. So, I called up the National Programming Heads who managed programming of every station in Mumbai and jointly we decided to put individual business aside for a day (you must understand the fierce competition that was raging amongst us). In a show of unity and strength at exactly 24 hours after bombs went off in an amazingly coordinated effort, every single radio station in Mumbai played AR Rehman’s patriotic Vande Mataram at the same time with announcements saying that we, the radio business, were hand in hand with the people on the streets. It was quite a moment in Indian FM Radio History.

I remember I and my radio station got calls from all walks of life, business people, media people, the common man saying what a proud moment it was to be a Mumbaiker. It just goes to show that when it counts radio as a medium can be caring and selfless unlike any other. I felt proud to be a radio guy working in a medium that has heart.