Friday, July 10, 2015

Radio - The Coolest One!

Radio - The Coolest One!

I am one of those people, who have actually seen a television set coming into their homes for the first time, a digital immigrant. I remember how excited we were when it was delivered. A black-and-white television, which we immediately fell in love with. But we did not have programmes for 24 hours; instead, we just had a few hours of TV in the beginning.

I remember, the time when we used to see a cricket match on TV. The cameramen were so untrained, that if a batsman hit a sixer, by the time the camera located the ball, it would be already in the crowd. We used to feel extremely bored by the commentary. We were used to a fast paced radio commentary, which gave continuous description of whatever went on on the field. It was full of so many words. On the other hand, on the TV, the commentator would just say, "Oh! What a shot!" and shut up, leaving the viewer to see the rest for themselves. We used to find that extremely boring! So we used to turn the TV volume down, place our beloved transistor on top the the TV, and watch the match with the commentary from the radio.

When we speak, many times, it is not our words that communicate, but the tone of our voice, the inflection in it, the volume, and the overall expression in the voice are more important. That is why, radio is an effective medium, because it helps us conjure images in our mind. I remember, we used to get a kit with Rasna (an instant fruit drink powder). The kit consisted of a cardboard depicting the cricket ground, and small card figurines of every player in both the teams. The commentary used to describe the placement of the fielders in detail, and we used to arrange the players' figurines accordingly. It was fun to watch the cricket match listening to the commentary that way. The radio commentary used to be thrilling, and I can vouch for anyone my age, that we used to live the excitement of the cricket match, with the radio in full volume, the sound of the crowd, and the commentators yelling over the noise!

Before the television came into our lives, our electronic media comprised of the radio, and at the most, a calculator, or the prized electronic watch. Despite the radio losing a little bit of its sheen now, it is still an important, and a powerful medium. It is powerful because it has a very wide reach, but it is also powerful because it helps in visual communication. Not that's a little far fetched, isn't it? Well, not really. When we listen to the radio, because we do not have the privilege of ay images, we conjure them from our memory. So when we listen to a moving song, a dialogue, a speech, or a narration, while we listen to it, our mind keeps searching for the relevant images. Radio involves us more than the television, because it forces us to think and fill the gaps created by the absence of images. That is why, Marshall McLuhan called the radio a 'cooler' medium over television, because it is much more engaging.

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So don't write off radio just yet! You don't have to hold a radio in your hand to listen to it. You don't have to leave your chores for it. You don't even have to look at it. And yet, it keeps you engaged with itself. No wonder, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has turned to radio for his Mann Ki Baat!

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