So Much For FM

I got back to Delhi yesterday. Once I hit the border, I switched my Walkman off my self-compiled tapes (Metallica, Ugly Kid Joe, Aerosmith, Rolling Stones among others for those who’re interested) and on to FM mode. I was curious to see what the three private FM stations that had launched while I was away were like.

My first impression, after surfing through them for about an hour and a half from the Delhi border to home in Safdarjung Enclave, was that they’re lousy.

This was because all I heard on them was the very worst Hindi film music. By contrast, AIR FM 102.6 – yes, the government owned AIR- was playing amazing soft bluesy guitar rock- Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler, Fleetwood Mac. And the RJ knew her stuff.

I gave the private stations another shot today. I’ve revised my impressions somewhat. The private stations aren’t all that bad. At the same time, they’re not much better than AIR.

This is the situation- AIR has terrible radio jockeys for the general shows- news, Hindi music, Indi- and English pop, countdowns, request shows, and the like. On the other hand, for about the four to six hours of niche programming they do everyday- classical, rock, jazz, and the like- they have fantastic jockeys who know what they’re talking, and play very high level stuff. Those four to six hours are excellent- even if you don’t listen to that particular niche by yourself, the radio jockey will educate you and ensure that you won’t really turn off- unless, of course, it’s the heavy metal half hour, and you’re still unable to digest iron.

The private stations, I discovered today, have very good RJs for the general shows- self-assured and funny. They don’t do what the AIR RJs do- try too hard. But here’s the problem- they don’t have niche shows. It’s twenty four hours of current Hindi movies and pop. Not even news. Phew.

The last bit is surprising. It’s understandable that there won’t be much of an audience for rock or classical music (Hindi, Carnatic, or western) in Delhi, but even so, one would have thought that they’d have at least an hour of news. I mean, the number of 24-hour TV news channels had run into double digits by now. Then why this strange recitence on the part of radio?

Hopefully things will improve, but for now, I’m sticking to my cassettes.

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