Have you ever heard a spot on the radio that you liked? I’ve wracked my brains and the only one that comes close to being acceptable is the series of spots for Appy Fizz. The ones about the ode to the refrigerator or the TV. Otherwise, it’s as dumb as you can get. From Bindu Appalam to God Knows What peddled at Audio at Max level, screeching brand name repeated 10 times in 30 seconds and the same set of voices playing everything from young college boy to aged aunt. (That’s the subject for another post – the amazing lack of variety in voice overs in India) You get the same tired set of voices and you can jump through hoops with them but they have essentially done every variation you can think of. Like Shah Rukh can only be Shah Rukh, whether he plays Devdas or Emperor Asoka. One in traditional Bengali attire, the other in a period outfit with smooth shaved torso showing.

I prefer the cacophony in the car to the cacophony of traffic outside. I must have listened to nearly 800 hours of programming - everything from FM Rainbow to Radio Mirchi to Suryan FM to the recent entrants - Big FM , Hello FM and Radio City. What is astounding is that you can switch between Smiley Sulabha and Mirchi Suchi and barely make out the difference. It's all the same one minute banter, 30 sec general gyaan, 30 sec. traffic update - this is normally to tell you that all the streets in Chennai are blocked or free.

The listeners are all asked the same questions - What's your name? Where are you from? All fine at home? Will you sing a song out of tune... or...answer some dumb downright stupid question? And guess what? They flunk most of the time.

Then we get to hear the same 30 songs in various permutations and combinations. I've heard the latest hits - New York Nagaram to Paarta Mudhal naalil...oh, lots of times. It's not the songs that grate as much as the sameness. There's a bland South Indian breakfast item - Upma, made out of wheat. It's OK once in a way, but if it's served day after day, 15 times a week...it makes you pick up the remote and change channels. Only to get another variation on the same theme from the other one. I wonder what all those programming executives at Radio stations think about. Let’s have a Call-in show. Or go around asking people which song they like from which film. Whoever said that Change is the only Constant  has not listened to radio stations in Chennai

7/23/2007 03:38:32 am

Hi writo,
At the expense of sounding 'me-too' like the radio channels you talked about - I have to agree with you. The 10 odd radio channels we have unfortunately have the same set of contents juggled to annoy the listeners at different times of the day.

It's sad because radio is such an exciting medium - and what's more it has a trapped listenership. It can be made so much more exciting, proactive and USEFUL to our society. I mean look at the spectrum of audience listening to it - from the chai shop guy to the swank Merc guy. I think no other medium has this advantage of pasting messages across the board.

Anyways - I also felt I needed to talk about my favourite Radio commercial. A whole series for Emirates Airlines - aired in Dubai FM channels. They kept to the Emirates theme of 'when was the last time you did something for the first time' - they were smart, witty, had a story to tell and always surprised you at the end of 20 seconds. If I manage to traces those ads I will try and send them to you.

More later. Keep blogging.

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