There was a time, not so long ago, when nobody listened to the radio. Television had made its addictive presence felt, and the old "Radio set" was relegated to the background. It sat there, unheard, unseen, gathering dust - until FM invaded our airspace.
Radio for me, as a kid, meant listening to the Bournvita Quiz Contest every Sunday afternoon, while having hot phulkas and dal. Apart from that, my parents listened to classical music on Akashvani regularly. Sometimes my father tuned in to Vividh Bharati. That was what radio meant to me. That is, until the resurrection.
Radio City had probably just taken root in Bangalore, When I had to go out of Bangalore for further studies. I lived in a hostel. There weren't many stations available, and the best was Vividh Bharati, which by now was available on FM. I was hooked on to it. No matter how tired I was, I would fall asleep only with the fading of the last melody on Chhayageet*.
Then I moved to Mumbai and was hit by a deluge of Radio Stations. 6, or 7 stations to choose from! [Important learning - When you are not too particular about what you want, too many options will kill you.] My FM receiver, that I bargained for and bought outside Andheri Station, went kaput in no time, and the reason, I suspect, is that I changed stations too frequently. By the time I had zeroed in upon the stations and programs I liked best, it was time to leave Mumbai.
By the time I got back to Bangalore, Radio City was omnipresent. In the cab, in the parlour, in the restaurant, in the gym, in the shopping mall, in the.. well, you get the drift. Since commuting in Bangalore usually takes very long, music is the best way to distract you from traffic. Though I would have preferred to carry my own player and listen to the music of my choice, people in the company cabs want to listen to the radio.
So, all the company cabs play the radio, and previously they were all tuned into Radio City. Only occasionally, when an annoying driver changed stations, we would be forced to listen to AIR FM Rainbow, which, while it played not-too-bad music, had boring anchoring, with sudden long silences, which made us wonder if we lost the transmission. So Radio City it was. Though there were too many ads and too much of talking, there were some likeable RJs - like Vasanti on Good Morning India, and Darius on Route 91 in the evenings. So we listened anyway, especially since the alternative wasn't too inviting. Then Darius left, and I couldn't bear the hyperactive anchoring of Sunaina who was his replacement. Just as I was reaching my wits' end, in stepped Radio Mirchi.
Mirchi's USP seems to be Kanglish. A mixture of Kannada and English, that (they probably feel) most people will identify with. To top it, it plays lots and lots of music, and there are very few ads (As of now. And I know it will change). Anyway, it lives up to its claim of "More dhak-dhak, less bak-bak". The anchoring is measured and relaxed, but enthusiastic. Just the right mix. Sometimes the Kanglish gets too contrived, the songs are repeated too often, and there are a couple of irritating fillers. But on the whole, it seems to have won over Radio City, because all the radios in the company cabs, are now by default tuned to Radio Mirchi.
A couple of days ago, I was dozing off on the cab on the way home, gliding along in that phase between wakefulness and sleep, when from far away, I heard the RJ speak of "a contest". "Who am I??" Asked the RJ, "My first name is a store that sells home appliances, and my second name is a hotel on MG Road**". From somewhere in the recesses of my misty consciousness, the name "Vivek Oberoi" floated up, dancing in my mind's eye. In an instant I was wide awake. Usually, I never participate in these contests, but this time, though the word "PJ" was ringing in my ears, I felt compelled to take out my cellphone, punch in the answer, and send it along.
After a couple of songs, the RJ came back, and she put someone on air who got the answer right, and he got two tickets to watch a movie in PVR Cinemas. Fret, fume, I thought, and promptly went back to sleep. I woke up again to the strains of "Ya Ali" from Gangster, which is my current favourite, and Radio Mirchi is considerate enough to play it for me 3 times a day. Just as it got over, I was preparing to go back to dreamland, when the RJ came back again, and said, "Congratulations Shruthi, number ending in xyz, you have won yourself body care vouchers." Whatever it means. Anyway, yay! They even called me to get my home address, so that they could send the voucher home.
Now naturally, depending on the usefulness of the voucher, I will decide whether to continue to extend my patronage to Radio Mirchi.
Naaaah. :) As long as it remains better than Radio City, Radio Mirchi it is. Until, of course, it goes to the dogs. And then? Well, time will tell!
[*Chhayageet - A half-hour program playing golden oldies, every night at 10 pm on Vividh Bharati
**Vivek's is a popular chain of home-appliances stores, and The Oberoi is on M.G.Road in Bangalore.]