Sunday, December 17, 2006

The FM Revolution Begins

By Sabhanaz Rashid Diya

In the age of iPod and live entertainment at the click of a button, radio has long lost its glory. Most villages have access to colour televisions or at least, black-and-white ones. Bangladesh Betaar has bored urban population with stereotype programs, miserably unenthusiastic radio jockeys and has somehow survived by targeting an audience of bus drivers, rickshawpullers and low-paid day labourers. On the other hand, the closure of the country's first private station, Radio Metro, left several listeners at a loss for good radio entertainment. However, with the introduction of Bangladesh's first private FM stations, our day-to-day radio-experience is about to change.

'The station of the nation', Radio Today FM 89.6 was launched earlier this year. With a commitment to providing listeners with unbiased news, good music, current events and sports update, Radio Today is a complete infotainment station. Live traffic updates, daily exchange rates, price of groceries and other market commodities and most importantly, different genres of music have made it already a popular among masses. The station is Dhaka-based and is available to those who're within 100km from it. However, the station is hopeful about starting transmission in several other districts and aims to offer Radio Today as a lifestyle brand.

Six months after the launching of Radio Today, the country's second private FM radio station, Radio Foorti FM 98.4 was marketed. Radio Foorti aims to provide its listeners with quality non-commercial music and information about current events, marking its position as an integral part of the youth lifestyle. Sadly, most Japanese cars that flood Dhaka's streets do not support FM frequency above 90, owing to Japanese transmission technology. However, FM expanders are available in the market at cheap rates, and these can extend the frequency to 100. The producers of Radio Foorti are tremendously hopeful about FM transmission in the country with the latest models of cell phones facilitating FM radio stations and consider near-future radio entertainment to be the next big thing!

In fact, as phrased by Daniel Rahman, one of the producers of Radio Foorti, who draws examples from India, FM radio stations will be revolutionizing the face of entertainment in the coming years. India had no radio scenario even a few years back, but by the end of this year, it will be hosting 250 radio stations. It is a highly prospective industry and every celebrity in town is attached to one station or the other. Young people buy cell phones on the basis of its FM features! What makes radio more acceptable is its low-price and easy availability, hence giving it an enormous potential in being a successful business in Bangladesh.

Well, Daniel has foreseen it right! It is unbelievable how fast FM radio bands have dominated our lives. Playing the latest tracks released by local and international artists, it has nearly-successfully taken up the role of CD players in our cars. Many of my peers and previous generations have stopped listening to CD players in cars and the most recent news is known even before we go home and turn the television on. Even my driver is thrilled when he listens to the same songs on radio that I spend money on buying CDs of! With provision for requesting your favourite artist's songs and exclusive interviews, the radio-experience has been beautifully personalized.

What cannot be overlooked is that these stations are mostly youth-based and hence, provide today's young populace the chance to choose a different career path. The energy and enthusiasm of young people holding important positions as producers and reaching out to the masses as radio jockeys have led to the vibrant growth of these stations and opened broader opportunities for all. Radio Foorti particularly encourages young potentials to come up by submitting their compositions to be aired or living a fully paid career of a radio jockey. Most of its current staff host young musicians and welcomes many others. On the other hand, Radio Today has arranged events such as 'Rock Da Campus', which brought together live performances by local university bands.

What makes these radio stations stand out and make a statement is how radically they have changed our lives. A large part of the population who had never heard of Hyder Husyn or Stoic Bliss are now clicking their fingers to their beats, hence breaking away from the commercialism of Momtaz or Dhaliwood soundtracks. This positive change in our music taste has already proved what an important role radio infotainment can play in our lifestyles. In upcoming years, radio stations will be promoting more informed and healthy living patterns and Inshallah lead to greater economical and social growth in the country.

© 2006 The Daily Star

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was studied in Delhi, India and it was in the year 94/95 which really got the trend of FM radio got going with its AIR Times Radio. Seeing success of this FM radio later All India Radio took over the service to make profit and they failed miserably giving back the license back to public. Bangladesh just started it. Its a verryyy late start but at least a start. Hope this can also be seen in our terestrial television arena.



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