I understand the pain and anguish of Krishna Kumar over the decline of All India Radio (“A great medium of public education declines,” Jan. 6). I was once an addict of AIR. I belong to a rural agrarian family and I fondly remember my childhood days of listening to broadcasts in agriculture from the community radio of the panchayat. Portable radio was my companion for years.
For more than a decade, I gave talks on health on AIR Kadapa and Tirupati. Even now, AIR Tirupati broadcasts my health messages between regular programmes. I feel sad to see its decline.
Araveeti Rama Yogaiah,
AIR has lost its sheen, thanks to the government's wrong priorities and other reasons like change in people's attitudes, wrong recruitment policies, lack of vision on the part of top functionaries, mostly bureaucrats and not broadcasters, and lack of motivation and enthusiasm among the staff. Earlier, only professionals in education, literature and fine arts used to be recruited in AIR. The emphasis now is on academic qualification in mass media or journalism. There is a skewed emphasis on hardware rather than software (programme content). Most AIR stations are needlessly overstaffed. Crores of public money has been frittered away in the name of FM transmitters, without providing the needed programme personnel.
Even after the advent of television, radio remained the quintessential medium of education and entertainment. Listening to radio always gave me an unhurried sense of time and the luxury to ruminate and reflect, besides giving me an opportunity to improve my language and diction which I prized as an orator in my college days. I hope the lack of vision and spirit that plagues AIR will soon be overcome by creative and meaningful programmes.
AIR seems to be a misnomer as its broadcasts are hardly available across the country. Boosting its network will certainly help the government spread awareness among farmers, workers and other sections. FM Gold run by AIR does not broadcast News Analysis — debates on important national and international issues — when cricket matches are on. Such points should be taken care of.
It is true that AIR has lost a good percentage of listeners to television and new generation private FM radio. But it is unfair to say no quality programmes are aired. It was AIR that popularised Carnatic music concerts among the people of Kerala.
In the early 1980s, AIR Thrissur broadcast live concerts from the Chembai Memorial Musical Festival at the Krishna temple of Guruvayur during the Ekadasi Festival. This continues to date, regardless of the profit motive. The morning broadcast (from 5.50 am) from the Kozhikode and Thrissur stations of AIR still has a large number of listeners. The quality of programmes has deteriorated over the years not because of the lack of talented artists or programmers but the regressive attitude of bureaucrats who manage the day-to-day affairs in the studios.
Although television has gained more popularity and accessibility, AIR enjoys a substantial support base. Education programmes on it are interesting and useful for persons of various age groups. They inculcate the habit of learning among people. The government should ensure the continuance of this yeoman service.
Besides being a great medium of public education, AIR has also been a primary medium for showcasing the rich and diverse art forms of our country. As a Carnatic vocalist, I can vouch for the quality and authenticity of the music programmes broadcast by AIR.
Unfortunately the lacklustre attitude of the staff, insufficient funding and lack of advertisement combined with stiff competition from private FM radio channels have led to the decadence of AIR.
If you tune into AIR programmes after the 9 p.m. news, you get to hear quality programmes from Monday-Friday. There are discussions on current topics which are very good. Experts who anchor the programmes have a diverse background. Civil servants, Ministers, educationists and eminent journalists are invited to participate. On Mondays, there is a phone-in called “Public Speak” in which listeners can ask questions. Just listen to these programmes for a month and you will get to know about the quality of content. Programmes on AIR are far ahead of similar shows on television.
Syed Waseem Pasha,
Science and technology bring revolutionary changes in people's lives. The old fades away or loses its prominence and the new attracts people. The growth of cinema pushed drama to the background. Other arts, including folk, were adversely affected. AIR was part of life till the early 1970s. It rendered excellent service in promoting classical music. The works of great authors of all regional languages were dramatised and broadcast. People used to flock around radios for knowing election results. The advent of television changed the scene. The radio has taken a back seat.
Karavadi Raghava Rao,
Keywords: All India Radio