Celebrating World Radio Day with Ameen Sayani-Puri
Jaswant Singh Puri/ February 13,2024
World Radio Day is celebrated on 13th February. It is a date proclaimed by UNESCO to celebrate radio broadcasts, accelerate international cooperation among radio broadcasters and create an access to information through radio. This day is a unique opportunity to draw attention to the inevitable significance of radio.
It still remains the medium to reach the huge number of radio lovers. UNESCO sprearheads all the nations to celebrate Radio Day with full interest and involvement with diverse partners, such as national, regional and international broadcasting associations, media organisations as well as the people. Radio is still changing lives across the world.
World Radio Day was first proposed by Spain in September, 2010 and it was accepted by the UNESCO Member States in November 2011. This year the theme of World Radio Day is: “Radio: A century informing, entertaining and educating.”
Radio is a medium that has kept its utility since long times. Though the technological advancement has shown meteorite rise but radio is a part of medium, especially during the occurrence of natural and man-made disasters. It was Guglielmo Marconi, an Italian inventor who proved the feasibility of communication over the radio. He received the first radio signal in history in 1895 and the first radio station in America was established in Pittsburgh in 1919. Broadcasting over radio became digital in 1994 when radio streaming started via the internet.
Radio was the focus of attraction of most people before the invention of television. It was cheap with numerous uses as it was a source of connectivity from a town to a rural village, from a country to a global nations also. Even now it imparts radio lovers with current situations, news, entertainment content like stories, songs and others, educational programmes, medical-care awareness etc. That is why there are about 15,000 radio stations in the USA. Marissa Mayer quotes correctly: “The internet creates more of an appetite for media – it doesn’t replace physical books, radio or TV. D.W. Akademie remarks: “Combining social media and local radio is also a chance to strengthen community participation, especially of marginalised groups”.
Ameen Sayani was the famous radio announcer who helped popularise All India Radio in India. He was awarded the ‘Hindi Ratna Puruskar’ by the prestigious Hindi Bhavan of New Delhi. He has produced, compered programmes in thousands like CIBACA (formely BINACA), GEETMALA since 1952, mainly over radio Ceylon and afterwards over Vivid Bharti for a period of long 42 years.
He also held Bournvita Quiz Contest in English for eight years, ‘Sangeet Kay Sitaron Ki Mehfil’ and a number of other programmes, Sayani has excelled in radio shows and commercially since 1976. He was presented with ‘Padma Shri’ award in 2009.
Radio broadcasts so many programmes for the students and diverse communities. Mukta Vidya Vani is the unique educational Web Radio streaming audio for educational purposes and a part of the largest open schooling in the world. It is an effective platform for the learners. Shiksha Vani Podcast spreads audio content for various subjects of grades nine to twelve. All India Radio is broadcasting virtual classes and educational content. Gyan Vani is an educational FM Radio station in several cities of India. The medium of Broadcast is English, Hindi, or language of the region. Its educational FM radio network has spread to more that 37 cities and towns across the country. The FM Broadcasting in India began in 1977 but boomed after 2001 with the privatisation of FM Broadcasting. There were more than 369 operational private radio stations in more than 101 cities and towns. All India Radio has about 450 FM stations, an achievement for India. There are about 43,775 active radio stations in the world with 16500 AM stations, 2600 FM stations and 1,500 shortwave stations across the world. More than 19 million people listen to radio programmes. Though much has changed in the world of broadcasting technologies but All India Radio has kept its pace and still remains popular. AIR Kerala and Vividh Bharti, Malayalam have been on the top.
‘Mann Ki Baat’ is an Indian radio programme hosted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in which he addresses the people of the nation on All India Radio.
There have been many radio personalities in India and abroad. Howard Stern earned a reputation as a ‘Shock Jock.’ Rush Limbugh is one of the most listened-to radio hosts in America. Ryan Seacrest is a well known name in entertainment and one of the most remarkable successful music presenters. Glemm Beck, John Peel, Kenny Everett, Terry Wogan are also very famous. Zoe Ball was the first ever solo female presenter for BBC Radio-1 in 1997.
Moreover, Ramanuj Prasad Singh, Vinod Kashyap were famous in newsreading profession. One of the most memorable broadcasts in India belongs to Melville De Mellow whose seven hours long radio commentary on the funeral procession of Mahatma Gandhi deserves accolades. “Melville was for radio what Elvis Presley was for rock and roll”. Newscasters such as Roshan Menon , Devki Nandan Pandey, Lotika Ratan, Surojit Sen, Pamela Singh, Barun Haldar, Indu Wahi and Rajendra Aggarwal became household names with their nuanced and authoritative reading style. SushilJaveri was always a stickler for correct pronunciation who started as a music presenter in 1955 and became a newsreader in Delhi a year later. Some other memorable radio personalities include RJ Karan Singh, Aswathy Sreekanth, RJ Shankar, Disha Oberoi Manohar Mahajan. RJ Mir is popular for his popular show on ‘Radio Mirchi’ RJ Jimi achieved great popularity in Red FM for his voice.
Radio Lata Mangeshkar is dedicated to Indian Singer and music director. Besides, there is Mohammed Rafi Radio, Kishore Kumar Radio, Asha Bhonsle Radio, Radio City Mukesh and so on.
Radio had its dawn in India as a tool for disseminating information in every walk of the country. However, it took the shape of a weapon on battlefield and a medium to fight back the propagandist theories. Transistor radios had made their way into society which had become a quintessential way of life. Jawaharlal Nehru’s speech when India became free is remembered even today. The first commercial transmission of radio was sent out by the Radio Club of Bombay in 1923. The Calcutta Radio Club started the same year and a year after, Madras got its radio broadcasts with the Madras Presidency Radio Club. However, radio programming gained stability after the government stepped into the Indian State Broadcasting Service (ISBS) in 1930. But on June 8, ISBS finally became as All India Radio and later on Akashvani in 1956.
It is really a matter of immense inspiration for the masses that Dr. Ajit Singh Puri presented a lot number of radio talks on medical care and consequently, a number of people reported that they were benefitted by his radio interviews and talks.
All India Radio, India’s Public Service Brodcaster, has been serving to educate and entertain its audience since inception. AIR has a three-tier system of broadcasting-National, Regional and Local. Local Radio is a newer concept of broadcasting in India.
Note: The views expressed are personal.This article is dedicated to Smt. Alka Puri wife of Dr. Ajit Singh Puri and mother of Jaswant Singh Puri.