In the Pre-Internet era, there was radio. In the contemporary world- there are podcasts. In between, there has been a lot of trouble and challenges for the greatest and biggest national broadcaster All India Radio aka AIR.
In a move that might make some eyes numb and may offer the world on social media to write posts marked with the phrase ‘Throwback’, the venerable All India Radio- AIR- has decided to shut down its radio channel.
It had been described as the voice of India that one heard through the radio.
Listening to it, felt like listening to the spirit of the hinterland, appreciating a sense of what it meant by being in India and hearing about one’s ecosystem, in general. To add to that, there’s expected to be a visit to nostalgia for a lot of old-timers who grew up understanding and appreciating a sense of where they came from and the country they belonged to, courtesy the radio.
Now, that nicety and pleasantness have been taken away from us.
But, such is life.
In case, you are wondering what might have led the prestigious All India Radio to take such a sudden decision, then it has to be shared, the measures are part of the national broadcaster’s efforts toward ‘cost-cutting.’
The radio landscape in India has anyways been one mired by backbreaking competition, with the likes of Radio Mirchi, Red FM, 93.5 FM, and others have sensationally lifted a challenging specter with amazing programming and broadcasting in the last decade and a half or so.
But it was during these times that the AIR’s national channel suffered unremitting challenges and the excesses of competition, it could be said, added to dampening the presence of the radio’s national channel.
Viewers needn’t be reminded but we’d still do so, in earnest, that AIR’s national channel used to function even before the concept of FM came to exist in India. Prasar Bharati had launched the same in 1988, in Hindi, Urdu, and English. And the decision, taken in light of financial challenges, doesn’t only concern itself with the demise of the national channel alone.
What’s a bit surprising is that the regional training academies in as many as five cities have been shut. This measure too, is part of the national broadcaster’s financial woes, it is believed.
Having said that, what nostalgia lovers are going to miss the most about AIR’s national channel is the fact that at a time where most other channels would stop broadcasting at midnight, AIR’s would still engage listeners and nightbirds with a variety of programmes for which actually a lot of people would stay awake.
The staff that worked for the Urdu channel was no stranger- as one may recall- to late nights either. One of the finest shows it ever ran- Sehar Gahi- would be aired at 3 a.m., for a period of 30 days during the holy period of Ramzan. In what is clearly a teary-eyed moment for many a station director working with the AIR, the news is not only somber but puts to rest decades and decades of heartfelt memories that were created at a place that shall offer the long road to nostalgia in the times to come.