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From the heart

CATHERINE RHEA ROY
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Chat Sophia Purushotaman talks about Heartline 919, the radio show that helps sort out emotional issues

Talk to meSays Sophia PurushotamanPhoto: Sampath KumaR g.p.
Talk to meSays Sophia PurushotamanPhoto: Sampath KumaR g.p.

Fifteen years ago Sophia Purushotaman was a reporter and presenter for commercial radio stations. She moved to the BBC for six years, where she developed and managed media campaigns for Asia and Africa. “I managed the HIV and AIDS prevention programmes and there were phone-ins which were a component of the show, where young people called in to ask questions about love sex and relationships.”

Along with Dr. Shyam Bhat, a psychiatrist, she spearheaded Heartline 919, launched last week by Radio Indigo, a show in which people can call in and ask questions about love, sex and relationships. The show is to help contribute to the emotional well-being of people under 30 who have no space to discuss these issues.

“You cannot go to anyone with these questions, so a phone-in show is ideal where your identity is anonymous and all your questions are answered,” Sophia explains. “Everything is changing here, boundaries, traditions. Young people have more and more questions and are more experimental. But which 21-year-old talks to their mother or goes to an aunt with his or her problems? This was our way of giving them a sound and expert opinion. It is not about what is right or what is wrong, there are no moral judgements,” says Sophia.

According to Sophia, the underlying editorial stance is impartial. “People are entitled to express their opinions and we are not moralising or promoting anything. But we need to accept that things are changing.” In a show that deals with relationships and young adults the advice has to be credible and to add that credibility they have brought in Shyam Bhat.“Apart from being medically qualified, he is also interested in human changes,” says Sophia. “Society is changing so much and with that there is a host of other issues and Shyam is particularly interested in these changes and human reactions to these changes.”

The show is slotted between 10 and 11 at night and Sophia stresses the importance of the show's screening process. “The calls can be about anything and each show is dedicated to a single theme like peer pressure or arranged marriage and we take special care to make sure it is not sleazy or smutty. We even accept questions over SMS and email to maintain the anonymity of the listeners.”

CATHERINE RHEA ROY

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