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Manjum Mahanta and Mrinmoy Buragohain
Date of Publish: 2016-07-09

Crave for quality leisure time brings new hopes to radio lovers

Eiya Akashvani (This is All India Radio) !

Who can ever forget the melody of this voice that transcends the towns and villages and travel through ether to reach listeners in different nooks and corner? We would always wonder who could be the owner of this melodious voice whom we cannot see and is far away. Yet, this voice is so close to our hearts.

Have the spread of audio-visual media that can cover both listeners and viewers, access to multimedia content through internet and busy modern life snatched away the time to enjoy popular and favourite radio programmes? Has the radio lost its popularity to multiple media of leisure that are available now?

Is radio still a popular as a source of information and a media for entertainment in Assam- the popularity it earned since the days of establishment of Shillong-Guwahati radio station in July 1948 at Shillong, then the capital of Assam.

A recent survey by the Audience Research Unit of AIR in 2016 shows that the percentage of the listenership in both rural and urban areas of the city has increased in case of All India Radio as compared to the private FM channels. 

According to the data collected in 2016, 16.30 per cent  of the population listens to AIR(A), 6 per cent listens to AIR(B) and 14.30per cent  AIR(FM) on a regular basis (6-7 days), whereas the same for data FM channels is: Gupshup – 10.70 per cent, Big FM – 21.70 per cent, Red FM – 13.3 per cent Radio Luit (Community Radio of Gauhati University) – 3 per cent.

The survey also shows that even among those who are not regular listeners of radio, the number of listeners of AIR programmes among all radios is the highest. AIR authorities say that the taste of the people is changing slowly and they listen to radio as it does not consume as much time as the television does. Also it improves the imaginative power of the listeners.

Nayanananda Bharali, proprietor of ‘Bharali Brothers’ one of the oldest radio dealers in Guwahati, says that the sale of Radio Sets has increased. They now sell on an average 40 sets every month. He says that some people in the cities choose AIR News programs over television news channels due to their busy schedule. The educational programmess in All India Radio also attracts many listeners.

“The sale of radio sets has increased since about a year or two. The language used in the private FM channels is too casual and mixed up, people want a simple language. People listen to live commentaries on radio. They also have an emotional attachment with some particular radio sets. Nowadays, there radio is built-in in our smart phones but I don’t think it has any impact on people’s interest in listening radio programs on a radio set”, he adds.

In Guwahati there are 5 FM radio stations and 2 AM radio stations. The programmes broadcast by FM stations confine mostly to music programmes while the AM stations run by AIR broadcast varied programs.  It has three transmission schedules every day: the first transmission is from 5:30 am to 9:45 am, second from 11:30 am to 5:15 pm and the third from 5:15 pm to 10:30 pm. Their programs range from educational to agricultural, from programs for women and children to youth based programs. Yuvabani is a popular program among the youth. They also broadcast programs in different regional languages like Karbi, Nepali, and Bodo etc. to reach the listeners among different communities. 

The Listeners’ take

Radio is also popular among students of leading educational institution in the city. Some students say they listen to radio programmes for relaxation for releasing the tension while preparing for their examination. I mostly listen to the FM channels like Big FM or Red FM and Vividh Bharati too. You can play a song in your phone anytime you want but when that same song comes in Radio, it is a completely different feeling,” says Manish, a regular radio listener

Kuwali Hazarika, a student of sixth semester of B.Sc (Zoology) of Cotton College, says she has an emotional attachment to her radio set as it was a gift from her grandmother. “I like the news bulletins of All India Radio as they are good a source of information and free from yellow journalism.”

Most of the barber’s shops in Guwahati have radio sets. The barbers tune in to various music and other programs broadcast by AIR and private FM radio programmes to entertain their clients.  Surinder, a barber in the city, says that he loves to listen to the programs broadcast in Vividh Bharati. The music programs, as it provides retro songs, are his favorite.

Hanif Ali, a security person at Inter State Bus Terminus, listens to the various radio programs broadcast by both private FM channels and AIR channels. He uses his smart phone for the purpose and says that the he loves to listen to the music programs on radio.

Samar Hazarika, a regular radio listener says that he likes listening to radio as it does not waste anybody’s time; one can continue working without getting bored. He has been listening to All India Radio since he was 10-years-old. He, however, feels that improvement is needed in some programmes.  “The attitudes of the people are changing with the changing times and hence programs need to change too, to cope up with the needs of the audience. The strength of transmission has gone down for many programs, improvement is certainly needed in this regard”, he adds.

Joanish Rongphar, Programme Executive at AIR Guwahati Station says, “What attracts listeners is the fact that we provide programmes in different languages to reach out different communities which is not done by the private FM channels. There might be problems in the quality of transmission in a few areas due to various factors such as mobile network towers, high tension electric towers, interference of wireless devices but our engineering department is trying their level best to solve the issue. There are also PTCs (Part Time Correspondents) in every district who collect news and report to AIR, Guwahati in the regional news center.”

Rituparna Deka, another employee of All India Radio, Guwahati says that according to the guidelines of Information and Broadcasting Ministry morning information service programs are broadcast by all media houses. “Ajir Pua” is the program broadcast by AIR, Guwahati. Likewise program on issues related to women is known as “Aideur Buloni”. Similarly youth based program named “Yuva Vani” is broadcast from 5pm to 8 pm every day and it does attract the young listeners; it was formerly known as “Naba Juban”, adds Rituparna. People from different professional backgrounds are interviewed and broadcast. It varies from choreographers, chefs, musicians, actors, makeup artists, tattoo artists etc. in order to inspire the youth to follow different professions. Also opportunities are provided to debut actors, musicians, etc. through auditions and a platform is provided for showcasing their talents. This also helps them in gaining fame along with financial support, he added. Moreover, he said they also broadcast employment news daily for the job seekers; the qualification required the number of posts and other details are announced for 5 minutes regularly.

It is too early to conclude whether radio is still the most popular medium. However, despite rapid expansion of audio-visual media, various programmes of radio have not lost their attraction among many listeners. Only time will tell as to how long this popularity of radio is sustained.

Manjum Mahanta and Mrinmoy Buragohain

( Manjum Mahanta and Mrinmoy Buragohain are pursuing M.A. in Mass Communication and Journalism at Tezpur University. This feature has been produced as part of internship at nezine.com ) 






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