By Anushri Saxena:
Apart from being half as entertaining as the television, radio is one of the cheapest and most widely available sources of information. One only needs a transistor or a radio set while the radio waves can freely be picked up from the air by the special device. It can be acquired in as less as forty bucks from the traffic lights to as snazzy as Rs. 890 from Sony (ICF-F12S). Let alone the built-in radio gear in mobile phones.
The first ever radio-broadcasting came to the face of Earth in 1906, it was made possible by Mr. Reginald Aubrey Fessenden. So it was a pretty good start for India as here as well the radio marked its presence within two decades of its invention, unlike television which took almost half a century to land here. All of this began on Amplitude Modulation (AM) broadcasting’s note.
Eleven years before the independence, the All India Radio (AIR) was formally launched in 1936. Till 1947 the main objective of sound broadcasting through the then six channels was only transmission of news. The citizenry which had just emerged out of a revolutionary state-of-mind was naturally interested in receiving crucial updates of incidents taking place all over.
It was in 1952 that the First National Programme of Music broadcast was telecasted from AIR. The sweet melodies of Bollywood movies had begun to reach ears on a larger scale. Love stories were about to take off with the voice coming out of the speakers, reciting unspeakable words felt by thousand hearts.
The launch of Vividh Bharti in 1957 promised to bring more diversity. One of the most popular shows aired at night was the Hawa Mahal. It aired stories by renowned Hindi Sahitya writers in a skit-format. Such plays also focussed on social-issues. Air-Dramas were not just amusing but due to their large number of listeners, advertising at this time proved to be much beneficial. In the morning, there used to be bhajans and short recitations from Ramayana.
However, in the wake of entertainment, Indian radio’s prime purpose of providing information was never compromised with. It continued to keep the listeners clued in about the numerous political upheavals which were taking place, descriptive news (in form of commentaries) related to the partition era, the gulf war of 1991, the death of Princess Diana etc.
Then came the less simple Frequency Modulation (FM) broadcasting which, unlike Amplitude Modulation (AM), could easily pass through various weather and geographical obstacles like mountains. In short, FM enables uninterrupted songs while AM would not give you a very high quality of sound. Despite all good features about FM, the highest extent of range is still in AM’s kitty.
Hence, for long distance broadcasting, AM remains the number one choice.
Now that all is said and done, we can still not take it for granted that the awareness programmes initiated by government reach every pair of ears. Television has always been a great competitor. And there must be a percentage of people who are out of reach of this electronic phenomenon. How about the people from tribal areas, do they access to a radio? In all probability, the answer would be no.
Over the years, Indian radio has gone through umpteen modulations itself in terms of content and transmission-method. It can be concluded as an evergreen source of respite for common men — the thrill a rikshaw waala gets from a dhin-chak Bollywood number and the engaging company a student gets on his way to college are inexpressible. Radio is surely here to stay, in vogue.