Why Radio Continues to Remain Popular? by Prof. Saurabh Deshpande

Why Radio Continues to Remain Popular? by Prof. Saurabh Deshpande

The LokSabha general elections of 2014 proved to be a watershed moment in modern Indian political history. Upon analysis, one finds that one of the key factors of the electorate not voting the UPA government back to power was the apparent failure of the then Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh failing to convincingly connect with the Indian voters through the available media platforms.

In contrast, Shri Narendra Modi, upon becoming the Prime Minister in 2014, decided to bridge this communication gap, and not surprisingly, chose the humble radio media as his choice reach out to the vast masses of the Indian population through his popular programme, “Mann Ki Baat”.

You may ask the question “Is radio dead?” I deliberately say no because despite its long glorious history, the radio still remains the most connectable media in India, as it does in the rest of the world as well.

Statistics show a robust growth in radio consumption, and there are several reasons why this medium refuses to slow down in popularity. Upon analysis, one finds that it inherently imbibes several positive characteristics that give it a distinct edge over completing mass media.

Firstly, it is a very inclusive medium as it can be accessed by all types of people – whether literate or illiterate, and across the economic, social and cultural barriers. This overarching connectivity across different types of audiences underlines its deep reach and allows the senders who propagate through radio articles to connect with literally crores of people with a very straight, simple and clear message.

Secondly, a radio is an affordable instrument which makes it an easy choice for the audiences who require information, but are unwilling to spend too much money in getting it. Thirdly, the technology is also very commonly available and often one does not have to go very far to procure radio set.

A fourth advantage is that the radio is non intrusive and it allows the listener to focus on his / her primary job. We have ample examples where the student studying and there is a radio playing in the background, or a humming housewife going about her daily chores, while a radio keeps her entertained, and also countless car drivers who drive on as they listen to the songs or to the news.

Another major practical feature is its portability. It can be easily carried from place to place across the length and red of locations for miles together. Radio waves usually have good penetration, even in far off locations and remote areas.

Yet another defining advantageous feature of a radio is that it easily integrates and embeds itself on new media hardware platforms like the mobile phone, and on virtual platforms like the internet.

The radio has taken on its competitors, but has shown itself to be more complementary than contradictory. Cinema, television and now the internet have a visual dimension within them apart from the audio, and yet the importance of radio continues to rule the airwaves.

Today, it comes in a variety of avatars like the FM Radio, Community Radio and the Ham Radio –each one of which serve a specific purpose.

So, going by the radio popularity, it is no wonder that the government has ambitious plans to introduce new bandwidths and give operational licences to more stations. A career in radio can definitely be a good choice today – as RJs continue to rock, music continues to be played and people continue to be informed through the evergreen radio.

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