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Radio gaga

Abraham Thomas of Radio City on why the nation’s pulse is still felt on air waves

A suburban housewife can become a radio jockey too. That’s what comedy drama Tumhari Sullu taught us. With Hindi film actors stepping into the shoes of radio jockeys, there has been a role reversal too with actors such as Ayushmann Khurrana, Manish Paul, Neil Bhoopalam, all of whom charmed us with their voices before their looks could. On World Radio Day, we may stop to track the journey from the antique radio sets, where one had to struggle with the knobs to avoid cracked sounds and not lose the radio frequency, to radio frequencies being streamed on smartphones.

Abraham Thomas, CEO, Radio City said, “Radio as a medium still has the widest reaching audience across the world. In India, it has moved from being a government-owned medium to a private one in early 2000. Since then, it has actually grown from being a passive or background medium to an active one. When commericalisation of radio began in the country, the prime focus was on music, the reason people used to tune in to radio, but with the passage of years it has gradually evolved owing to the fragmentation of overall media space and proliferation of ungratified fake news. Consequently, a radio jockey has become quite significant in the industry and is being seen as a credible and trustworthy friend who acts as a guide for listeners and navigates the audience through music and conversations.” On competition radio faces from online radio, print, electronic and digital platforms, he said, “Every medium has interesting elements and has its own place in terms of content consumption. Radio specifically has a  wide reach  geographically. It has a depth of reach in individual cities. In comparison to the conventional mediums, radio has grown the fastest and is co-exisiting with digital platforms. It is complementing the cyber world well which is non-linear.”

Thomas expressed his views about the critical development in the form of RJs coming into their own. “A lot of fake news, unverified information is being shared on social media in modern times. People are increasingly getting lost in terms of how to make sense of the bombardment of news and here RJs have a role to play as they tend to advise the listeners to make an informed decision at times. They are no longer just a voice on air but have their own share of followers. They are active on social media and on-ground events. RJs have grown from being merely announcers to influencers in their own right such as for city-driven issues, social causes and so on.” He informed us how  a recent research they did with a news channel reconfirmed their belief in RJs being seen as a trusted source or  relatively credible than other personalities on varied platforms. On radio seamlessly fitting in the digital era, Thomas said, “It has integrated smoothly with the information age, whether it’s through digital assets that radio has taken under its wings or intelligent use of social media to retain its popularity among the masses. Many RJs are active on social media, updating their followers about their views, daily happenings and are interacting with listeners which in turn augment the channel’s value in the market. Print and television can’t easily have this sort of direct relationship with the audience due to the nature of the medium.”

Since its inception, radio has undergone a shift from only feeding the audience with entertaining material to addressing social causes. As Abraham summed it up,  “The power of the medium brought about this change of entertainment with

a purpose.”

 
 
 
 
 

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