Well, finally summer break is on so I am back in the blogosphere after a long break! What I have been doing a lot in this break apart from my training, CAT preparation, college project, reading novels, learning to read Urdu (don’t worry, I tend to go crazy when its hot outside), stargazing, watching ‘Family Guy’, attending Purple Flower gigs, missing Bangalore, criticizing Ahmedabad’s summers and wishing for the first rains is DX-ing. Not the usual one, gone are the days of my dad’s time when they used to have radio listeners’ clubs and used to tune into Shortwave frequencies and listen to Radio Ceylon, Radio Dodgeville, China Radio International and Russia, Pakistan, BBC and Iran’s Hindi Services apart from the BBC World Service. Times have changed now and radio lovers now indulge into Internet DXing which obviously gives superior quality and greater range.
All on the Internet I’ve been tuning into just FM stations from around the planet (for others there is Shortwave). I’ve been listening to the FM stations from the UAE, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka and Pakistan mainly. And what I couldn’t help but do is to compare these stations with Indian FM stations and yes, the results are not in our favor. To begin with, not a single FM station in India provides its streaming online. (One down just at the beginning!!) I don’t know whether there is some government regulations regarding this but if it is then its hopeless to expect positive results any time soon coz our Information and Broadcast ministry is itself a hopeless organization, its almost been a decade and we still can’t get to listen to news on FM (and the silly reason they give is that it would be difficult to monitor so many news stations and people may be misguided). Even a nation like Pakistan has 24X7 live streaming of its FM stations (both Government owned and Private) from all its major cities viz. Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar etc. but none of Indian FM stations provide live streaming, not even from metros like Bombay and Bangalore, forget Ahmedabad. In one view its good for we don’t have any quality music and presenters in most of our FM stations (Radio Indigo’s is the exception here) so if we do internet streaming it would be an insult of the Indian Radio Industry in front of the outsiders.
Beginning from the UAE, I can say that their stations are at par with those in the West. Being an Arab nation its hard to believe but thanks to the visionary, His Highness Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai for making UAE so liberal as compared to its other Arab neighbors so that UAE can develop and people from other nations can come to work in the country and help in the development of UAE. The results are in front of us, more westerners are now working in the UAE as compared to its neighbors (that’s another reason that its tax free) and its the most developed Arab nation on the planet. I think other Arab nations who stick to strict Sharia rules (like Saudi Arabia) need to learn something from UAE. Anyways so few of the stations from Dubai that I liked are Radio 2, Channel 4 and Virgin Radio Dubai. The presenters are the best, the music is good and entertaining. And one advantage I get here that as the weekends in the UAE are Friday-Saturday, I get to listen to my favorite Breakfast show on Radio 2 every Sunday morning. Also last summer I got a chance to be on air on Virgin Radio Dubai and request a song, it felt great that I was speaking in Ahmedabad and my voice was being aired live all over Dubai (and the world through live streaming).
Talking about Pakistan, to be frank even I was surprised to see 24X7 International music radio stations in Karachi, even our biggest city Bombay doesn’t have a English radio station. And the quality of Karachi’s English stations is well, far better than any FM station in India! Shocked am I!! I know its hard to believe but here, take a listen yourself of City FM 89 and Radio Active 96. And the presenters are better than those we find in Bombay (except a few) or Ahmedabad. And the programming pattern quality of the shows is far better than we have in any of our cities. Still, I am surprised!!
Well I won’t lie but I kinda like listening to Arabic music, though I don’t get the meaning but I find their music pleasant and soothing. And Virgin Radio Jordan, Al Rabea Dubai and Mix FM Saudi Arabia are the best stations for that. And Virgin Radio Jordan also plays few international hits per hour. Talking about Mix FM Saudi Arabia, being in a country bound by the strictest of Sharia laws where even listening to music is offensive to the religion, I have heard some English music too on its FM stations! Weird! Talking about Jordan, it also being an Arab nation has quality English FM stations, and I don’t need to say that Amman’s presenters and the programming quality are pretty appreciable. Jordan also has genre wise stations like easy listening and adult contemporary too apart from Top 40. Here are few that I sometimes listen to, Spin FM, Radio Energy, Play FM and Mood for easy listening and Beat for adult contemporary. Also I find Jordan a bit liberal than its neighbors i.e Syria, Iraq and Iran. (Probably coz their queen, Her Highness Rania Al Abdullah is pretty hot ).
Sri Lanka, which in the map looks like India’s poop has better radio stations than us and that too genre wise. I mean who would expect a radio station dedicated to Classic Rock and easy listening in Colombo, i.e. abc Gold FM and Lite FM respectively, and no need to mention Colombo also has Top 40 genre station too.
Well at this point I would like to say that the only quality FM station in India of the International standards is Radio Indigo 91.9 in Bangalore and Goa. I have listened to stations of Bombay and Ahmedabad for a long time and once there was a station in Bombay named Go on 92.5 Mhz which could have been considered as of International Standard but sadly it shut down. And don’t even get me started on Ahmedabad’s stations, I have said pretty much about them in my previous blogs but few things I would like to mention here, there is just one station in Ahmedabad which plays English music for 2 hours a day (My FM) late at night but its not quality music, i.e. for them there are just 2 genres, Hindi and English, I mean that their English music show is just a mixed genre crap, say if you are listening to George Michael’s soothing Careless Whispers and after that you suddenly get to listen to GnR’s Smells like Teen Spirit and after that some Akon’s hip hop track, it would just kill your mood.
Another point about Radio Mirchi (the oldest station of the city) which I find quite funny that the presenters here who can’t even speak fluent English on air and rarely speak Hindi that too with thick gujju accent give reviews of Hollywood movies and on top of that the station says that if their particular ‘movie grader’ RJ graded the movie then its ‘final’. I mean wtf!! Most of their RJ’s just squeal and howl as if somebody is literally thrusting a ‘mirchi’ up their rectum (this is not just with Radio Mirchi but all stations). Pardon me if i sound offensive but this is the fact. I wonder who pays them for just sounding idiotic and foolishly cheerful on air. These guys just play new Hindi film music and ’shitty’ remixes. Please give us a break guys, get these excited electrons off air and let them reach their ground energy levels so that they can be more soft on the ears and more importantly get the content of the music right. I miss those early days in 2001-02 when they had quality music and hourly shows and they had Retro Hour at 11 PM.
Seriously, either we need to improve or we need to stop this ridiculous crap. Goodness I have online Radio!!