Saturday, May 13, 2006

Of Radio stations, contests, and vouchers.

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.]


Anonymous said...

I also didnt like Sunaina, but that was bcoz she came just after Geeta Madgil (who was my fav) left (you must have heard her..she left to Mumbai radio city).

So sad you didnt win the tickets to a movie in PVR.
And Ya Ali is my fav too, more than "Tu hi meri shab hai".
Been hearing lot about surely must have made a mark!

Anonymous said...

congrats !
hey..u have the same post twice.

Shruthi said...

RK Yeah, I have heard Geeta Modgil a couple of times. I wasn't here in Bangalore when she was an RJ. Oh its ok that I did not get the tickets - it was for this weekend, and this weekend only, and I am very busy this weekend :D
Mirchi has made a mark yes, in the sense, "It's different!" And it's new. For all you know, the charm might even fade away.

Vidya: Thanks! No idea how that happened :) Corrected it now, thank you!

Aditya said...

FM has invaded only metros and big cities. towns like our Davangere is still away from FM :-(


Shruthi said...

Aditya: That's true. A cousin of mine, who lives in Mysore, played around with his receiver and discovered how to receive FM transmission from Bangalore on his receiver :) But of course, Davangere is too far even for that!

Ranjit Nair said...

@Shruthi: hey wtg :). Congrats !!!

Judging by your proficiency at hotels, maybe I should come to you for advice next time I am in Bglr;).

Akshay said...

as far as goa is concerned we only have AIR.

Aparna S Mallya said...

hey, shruti, U seem to have exactly the same thoughts abt radio city/mirchi as I do! And yes, tho radio mirchi has less 'bak bak', i do loathe 'sleevless sarsa'. GIMME A BREAK!!! they actually had a contest where the listeners had to sms what kinda blouse sarsa is gonna wear! (puke)

PRIDERA said...

I may not be lucky to listen to FM radio here ... but recently I have found this site desi-radio which plays non stop music. Sure enough, the music enthusiast that I am, never fail to listen to it whenever I get a chance

Supremus said...

Whoa! You won as well?! Great to hear that - nobody I know has ever won anything in these contests hehehe! And I am usually twenty minutes too late to participate in such contests hehe.

I also liked Radio Mirchi when I was there - they seemed to play some good music.

Ya Ali rocks ain't it? I have been lsitening to that song non stop for the last 3 days in my car!


Nirwa Mehta said...

Wowie!! Congratulations! I have never won! :-(

Unfortuantely (or fortunately?) the only other option other than vividh bharati we have is Radio Mirchi.. It does have some annoying RJs, and they get obsessed by some songs.. but then.. they're okay for that 30 minute drive alone! :-)

I want my share of the voucher! :D



Ya Ali is a great song ,if you have noticed very carefully it starts off with a bit of veena .it is a great song

That makes it even more special :).N if you watch the song in the real sequence it seems so real ,it is written just for the situation

Anonymous said...


Winning Moves ?

Jagan said...

really witty n thought provoking..
Radio has been a great medium.. I always reminisce those lyrics from mere mehboob..
"mera khoya hua haseen nazara de de"..
The adv with radio is tht we can go to any heights and imagine a song...
Great write-up..

Sri Harsha said...

"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."

You know wht shruthi, i thought the same uptill my first year of engineering. (I did my engineering near a now defunct port of machilipatnam, a small coastal town in A.P.)Like you, i was also thinking from the urban kid's viewpoint......and we were wrong.

Radio never lost it's base.....the villages of India. We fail to realise that villages still form the core of India and people haven't stopped listening to radio like us in the cities.

The FM revolution in India today is kinda re-capturing the lost urban base of Indian radio. Ofcourse, this kinda is aided by the increasing number of cars in India.

Shruthi said...

Ranjit: Thanks ;) Ummm.. hotels? Heh heh.... I do know quite a few, but I don't deserve that much credit for knowing where The Oberoi is :D But of course, you can always come to me for info ;)

Akshay: Yeah, correct, its usually the metros which have these FM stations. But I am sure Vividh Bharati is available on FM. Check it out. Of course, not that kids like you will enjoy it... it's oldies(?) like me who do :D

Aparna: I had exactly "Sleeveless Sarasa" in mind when I said "irritating fillers" in my post :D
It is intolerable, and tending to cheapness. Yuck! :D

Pridera: Yes, there are great sites like that, and I constantly receive some software that gives you a choice of the stations you can play!

Suyog: Heh heh, it was funny, since I sent the answer on an inexplicable impulse.
Ya Ali absolutely rocks, man oh man... I can listen to it all day.

Shruthi said...

Nirwa: You have never won!? I must be extraordinarily lucky. This is the very first time I have ever sent in an answer ;) And, ummm... your share of the voucher? And what did you do to merit a share, huh? :D
All stations have their share of irritants, but on the whole, as long as they keep you occupied enough not to notice the traffic, its fine :D

Stalag Sukhoi:Absolutely. I did notice that there was a string instrument in the beginning, but hadn't paid enough attention - a Veena?? Will listen carefully the next time :)
Actually I hadn't watched the song on TV, but once, but when I did watch it, I realized it was filmed on Emraan Hashmi, so I quickly turned the TV off, before I lost my love for the song ;D

?! Rather, Winning doz(s)es ;)

Garcia Kafka: Thank you! :) You are right, radio lets your imagination free :)
Ohho, you know what you did? You just put that beautiful song "Mere mehboob" in my head. Now if I sing it all day, you are responsible :O

Harsha: Ohho, I know perfectly well what kind of a hold the radio has on the rural populace. Just listen to programs like "Aap ki farmaish" on Vividh Bharati, and you will get to know the existence of tiny villages, tucked away somewhere, where there are people like you and me, for whom radio is the only source of entertainment. Arrey, why tiny villages, even in the place where I did my pg, there was no FM, nothing, everybody tuned into the local AM channel. Just because I did not understand the language, I would tune into Vividh Bharati.
I write about my life, usually, and the people around me. When I said "nobody listens", I meant the people around me.
And yes, FM has brought back radio into the urban household, or rather, as you say, into the urban cars! :D

Nirwa Mehta said...

//And what did you do to merit a share, huh?

Well.. I was the only one to ask for the share.. isn't that the merit enough? :P :P

Don't worry.. On my sister's and my parent's birthdays, I always ask for gifts.. :D They're now used to my crazy behaviour! :D Don't worry.. no need to send me stuff from Bangalore.. :P Because it was your first time, tumhe baksh diya... :P


Author said...

Hi Shruthi,
The best part about radios is that there is always an amount of excitement anticipating the next song! One of those times when you would prefer unpredictability over order :)

BTW, I have a spoiler for you here. Ya Ali is a copy from an Arabic song. (Got to know and hear the original from Every visit to that site leaves with me with a sad feeling of stop loving one more of the songs I liked so much. Does realizing something you liked was palagarised should stop you from liking it? Thinking about it. May be some material for your or my next post :)

Thanks for your comment on my blog. Nope, the accident was not very serious but the realization was much bigger.

I have been reading your blog for a few weeks now and I must say I really like your thoughts and articulation. Being a very avid reader myself, I can see a reflection of your vast reading in your posts. Keep up the good work.

Shruthi said...

Nirwa: Ok, Nirwa, tell you what, if the body care product(whatever it is) is good, I will recommend it to you, ok? done? :D Or rather, if I don't like it, I will courier it to you (Muhahahaha!) ;)

Shastri: Thank you! :)
Ohhh I know that Ya Ali is a copy! Actually it is quite sad, but whenever I hear a new, good film song, with a tune which is exotic, I immediately google around to see if anybody has been writing about it being a copy. And sadly, I usually find someone announcing that its a copy! :(
If I knew the original, I would hate the copy. For example, do you remember the song "Pyaar Aaya, pyaar aaya, saj dhaj ke mera yaar aaya" - I knew and loved the original long before it was copied. So I was very uncomfy with the copy, until I got used to it. Similarly with "Sochna tha jo bhi hoga dekha jaayega".
But in the case of Ya Ali, I did not know the original. So though I know its a copy, I love it anyway :) - Thanks for the link!!

Author said...

Oh yeah, remembering 'Aap ki Farmayish' and 'Nimma mechchina chitrageetegaLu' I must share this joke from a cartoon I read in a Kannaga Magazine long ago.
(Apologies for all those who dont understand Kannada. It sounds best in Kannada)

One All India Radio anchor is just returning from her marriage and her friend asks her who all attended the ceremony. The lady replies
"Kadurininda Ramesha, Suresha, Yallappa mattu geLeyaru, Gulbargadinda LingaNNa, Mallakka mattu maneyavaru, DevenapaLayadinda shivanna, ramakka mattu sangaDigaru"..
I found it so funny. Just try visualizing and imagine the tone of an AIR anchor and you will love it as much as I did.

Shruthi said...

Shastri: Ha ha!!!! Cooool!! Next time I go to a wedding or something, and I have to report such things to someone else, this is how I will do it and make it a little lighter for myself (else it's a boring task! :O)
Shastri, why did you give me that link???!!!! :O -- I realized that most of the songs I like are "inspired" by others! :(((

anandanubhava said...

Personally, I love AIR FM Rainbow. It's a true blooded kannadiga station that not only has un-pretentious RJs talking pure kannada (not kanglish or hinglish or some other mixture), they also play very good mix of songs, be it old Hindi classics, old Kannada songs or even the latest rock & hip-hop! No other station has this great mix.. it seems Mirchi & RadioCity just play to get a majority listener fact none of them play great English music or melodious old songs during peak hours. Just a bunch of remixes & some contrived polls like 'do you want to live-in with ur gf', that majority of Indians cant identify with. Reminds one of the share Times of India newspaper has in the market, irrespective of crappy journalism, but thanks to superb marketing (color, lifted articles on dating, infidelity, etc, pictures to ogle at & so on). I know I'm in the minority on both these counts :-) & hence prefer silence or sleeping! This is probably reflective of the culture change in Bangalore.

Shruthi said...

Anand: I agree with you on the good mix Rainbow plays in the mornings. They alternate between Kannada and English songs, and we get to listen to rarely played songs.
There is one other good thing about the morning anchoring. Sometimes, they just select one unknown tourist destination close to Bangalore, and tell you all about it. History, how to get there, what to see, where to stay, everything. That is very interesting.
But about the evening programs, I beg to differ. The songs played are horrible, and the anchoring usually is pretty boring. Also, the Kannada spoken is pretty sad. It is the "Ista" "Kasta" variety, or "Audu", "Atthu" variety. Or statements like this "Namma ondu Karnatakada ratnaru antha kareyabahudaada, hiriyaru anthakkantha..... blah blah blah". Why that "namma ondu" and that "anthakkantha"?? It gets on my nerves. I rather listen to English or even Kanglish, rather than this pretentious Kannada. (of course, not that the quality of English or Kanglish is too good in the other channels, but I think it hurts more to listen to your own language being murdered.)
I listen to radio only while commuting, so I do not know about the quality of the programs at other times.
Heh heh, good analogy - Times of India :D I am with you whole heartedly on that one!
But packaging is important in Radio, to gain the maxinum number of listeners. I wish Rainbow would spruce up. It would be an excellent alternative.

Swathi Sambhani aka Chimera said...

y dun someone tell these guys that there is ample potential in Hyderabad :))

chitra said...

congrats! i have spent so much money on sms and repkly by post cards (earlier times) , I never got thru it and neither any of my friends. I came tothink of it as a farce exercise.

I had stopped it , but now, I shall restart withthe hope that sometimes I might also get the much awaited call...

Shruthi said...

Swathi: Ummm.. ample potential for listeners, or RJs? :)
Or something else?

Chitra: Oh, I used to think it was a farce too. I never even bothered to send in any smses or postcards :). But now I know at least some of them are for real! Actually though they announced my name on radio, I did not believe they would call me. When they called me to take my address, I did not believe that they would actually post it. But the fact is that the voucher has already come home by post, and is waiting for me. Have to go and check it out. :)

Abhinav said...

hey thats very nice Congrats! i have started listening to Radio since i came to Blore 2 years ago and yea Radio City has too much Bak Bak these days...its good that Radio Mirchi is up and will take some time to find more ads till then it has to be Radio Mirchi all the time

Chitra said...

Tee about "Binaca Geethmala"? Mom still reminisces about it..:)

Shruthi said...

Abhinav: Thank you! Yes, I hope Radio Mirchi will remain this way at least for some time!

Chitra: Hee hee... my dad also has fond memories of Binaca Geetmala, with the inimitable Amin Sayani!

Viky said...

I guess Radio City made a very heavy impact in Bangalore, and the timing was impeccable. At a time when there was virtually zero listenership for radio, it brought in a revolution. I remember Chaitanya Hegde telling in an interview, that during the first few years, they had it very easy, because it was a new concept, and people lapped up whatever they dished out, but now with competition coming in, and Radio City losing its star anchors to Worldspace, it has become hard for it to maintain its tempo.

And as it always happens, the people have heard City for so long now, they are curious to know what Mirchi is offering, so Mirchi is kind of riding on the first wave...You mentioned something about Mirchi being Kanglish. This I feel, is good, because a FM station is supposed to be local, and hence it has to maintain the local flavour and relate to its patrons, without which it will be hard for it to survive. The programmes are a direct "lift" from Mirchi, here in Pune...'Blockbuster budhawaara' and all.

Speaking of 'lifts', to know that Ya Ali was a lift pained, but again, since I did not know the original, I enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed "Mere rang mein rangne wali" before I had heard "Final Countdown". The song still plays non-stop on my laptop, and of course on Mirchi.

And the RJs suck bigtime, as usual.

Shruthi said...

Viky: Absolutely. Mirchi is enjoying the first wave of success - everything is new and different, blah blah. You never know when people will get tired of it.
I haven't yet got tired of the RJs... I think they are ok!
I knew The Final Countdown too, and it had already been adapted in the Philips ad, and then along came Mere Rang mein. So people thought that the tune had been lifted from the Philips ad :D
Anyway, you should go to that site which Shastri has given in his comments above. Almost every song seems to be a lift :(

Shruthi said...

Stalag Sukhoi, in Ya Ali, it's not a Veena - its the Sitar! And its beautiful :) Thanks for drawing my attention to it!
Btw Shastri, I listened to the original, Ya Ghaly, and its good! :) And I still like Ya Ali ;)
Also, Anand, funny coincidence - I listened to FM Rainbow today on the commute back home. And they.. errr.. mmm... played wonderful songs :D I was thinking, what on earth, just today I told Anand that they play bad songs in the evenings, and here it is, proving me wrong :D

Viky said...

Does it always not happen that way?

Anything that doesn't work, starts working the minute you bring someone along to prove it to them. The spanner always rolls to the least accessible corner, just after you have slid under your car, and you nose always starts to itch the minute your hands are covered with grease. He he.

Coming to itwofs, the guy has done one heck of a job there. I found out that Balki from Lowe ad agency flicks his tunes from Illayaraja's 80's songs. I had liked so many ads. And interestingly, I came across a couple of cases where there was reverse plagiarism - French rappers have "lifted" Rahman's Ottagattai Kattiko, ALONG WITH THE LYRICS.

And speaking of one particular telecom service provider, flicking 'Naguva Nayana' tune DID change their life, didn't it?

Shruthi said...

Viky: Yeah :D Murphy's Laws ;)
ROFL at French rappers have "lifted" Rahman's Ottagattai Kattiko, ALONG WITH THE LYRICS.!!
Oh yeah, Idea got the wonderful Idea of lifting the lovely tune of Naguva Nayana ha? :D

Author said...

must you not credit Balki with taking a Kannada tune to the National Level? ;)
On more serious note, it becomes a tough task what do you classify as 'copy'. I learnt recently that all modern composers 'buy' pices of music called 'loop' and use them in their work. Its not a rare event that the same same loop is sold to more than one musician. So several music composers falsely get accused of lifiting for no fault of theirs. And of course there are blatant ones like Ya Ali ;)
I sribbed something on my blog about how I feel when I discover that something is a lift. Read it here

direkishore said...

Yep, Nothing compares with Vividh Bharathi. Chayageet, Hawamahal, aah..those were the days..

Shruthi said...

That's true, Shastri, but who knows that it is a Kannada tune? :D
I did not know about this "loop" funda - news to me!
And oh! Very good post on your blog!

Direkishore, lovely right? :) I don't know Hawamahal, though!

Anonymous said...

Radio Mirchi plays good songs.. All the self promotional ads are bakwaas and below standard.. Too much of noise..Iprefer Radio City..

LAK said...

Mirchi in Delhi has Hinglish/Punglish, of course! Yay for your vouchers! body Care is a chain of slimming centres, unless it is some cosmetics firm too. And if you're already slim, I'll be waiting in line for those vouchers!

Shruthi said...

Vin: I agree, the self-promotional songs are quite silly, except one, which I like :) "Autonalli hogovaga" song in old Hollywood musical style :D

Lak: Ohho! Actually when I saw the voucher, I realized that Body Care wasn't a cosmetic firm, but thought that maybe it was a beauty salon. So that was also ok with me. Now you say its a slimming centre!! And I think you are right. I now remember some ads. There are three branches in Bangalore, have to go and see what I can get for the 500 rupees voucher :D. I doubt that I will get anything within that amount ;)
Ummm I will remember your claim :)

Anonymous said...

good one shruthi. liked ur AIR anchor Maduve Joke.
innondu FM channel ide, kelirbahudu neevu: GYAAN VANI-107.6. it is an IGNOU run channel. it plays between 6 and 10 in the evening and the same is relayed next morning. unless u r in school, it is boring to listen to this channel. once in a while it plays good music and interviews and lessons on maths,physics and english. i suggest u listen to it, just for fun.
(by the way, some time back, i had been an RJ at Gyaan Vani).


oh is it ,i didnt know it was sitar .By the way just a simili ,all good things may come and go in a very small way .whatver they maybe .Dont miss them they are precious :)

Raj said...

Well, "Ya Ali" is my favorite song at the moment too.

I have never won any contests like these - neither big nor small. I've been trying since I was 8. :(

But I think that "Kinglish" becomes Kannada at times on RM and I am unable to understand them.

Like I wanted to message them an answer to a question too but the directions were in Kannada so I couldn't :(

Shruthi said...

Bellur Ramakrishna: Oh really? Were you an RJ for Gyaan Vani? Hagadre real life nallu tumba gyaan kodthira? ;) Yes have heard it a few times.. but not seriously.. just in passing :)

Stalag Sukhoi: Correct! Very true :)

Raj: Hmmm that is certainly a problem. But I have a couple of non-Kannada speaking friends who tell me that their Kannada vocabulary is improving after listening to Radio Mirchi. :)

Anonymous said...

Wow looks like there are a lot more options in FM stations now in Bangalore and Congrats!! on winning a prize, no matter how big or small, its the winning in a contest that gives a high because I remember having tried a couple of times with those Quiz contests, KBC etc on TV with no luck.
Its been quite some time since I took a break from reading blogs, cos I was busy with other things. But it looks like your blog readership has increased a lot going by the number of comments.. good going :)


Shruthi said...

Kishore: Thank you :) Was wondering where you were :)
And yes, I don't know about the readership, but there has certainly be a spurt in the number of comments! :)

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