Saturday, December 10, 2016
50 years of reaching the unreachable
As he leaves to his agricultural field from his modest house in Thookanaickenpalayam village, about 20km from Coimbatore, every day at dawn, T N Ramasamy, a farmer, carefully picks the radio set from the shelf. He reaches the farm, just in time to tune All India Radio's Coimbatore station for the daily farm news bulletin at 6.35am. On request, Ramasamy increases the volume, as a group of farm workers too join him to listen the announcements. "This has been my routine for the past 50 years,'' says Ramasamy, now 78. It has been 50 years since AIR Coimbatore launched its broadcast on December 18, 1966, from its Chettipalayam transmission station. Still, for many like Ramasamy, the day is incomplete without listening to its programmes in this age of zillion television channels and omnipresent social media. Old timers say it was nothing less than euphoria when the first broadcast was made. People scurried to get hold of new radio sets to listen the programmes aired from their city. There were people who tuned in much before the official broadcast was to be made and were waiting to listen to the audio. AIR Coimbatore turned out to be an instant hit right from the moment the first announcement was made.
"That very evening, none other than innovator and entrepreneur G D Naidu walked in to our station appreciating us," recalled V Nallathambi, who made the first announcement. Since then, the Coimbatore station had a long and chequered journey, reached several milestones, winning hearts all along. "People still reminisces our programmes like Pudhayal, Naaloru Thagaval, Naaloru Keerai and Carnatic musical performances. We were part of several people's growing up years, informing, educating and entertaining them," says Chitralega, current programme head at AIR, Coimbatore. Chitralega who joined in 1988 says her interviews of field marshal Sam Manekshaw, chief of the Army staff of the Indian Army during the Indo-Pakistan war of 1971 and V R Lakshmi Narayanan, former director general of police who arrested Indira Gandhi had wider reach beyond Coimbatore. Under G Selvam, the station director in 1979, AIR reached its peak with the highest number of listeners and was the most sought after medium. Bringing in several innovative and interesting programmes, he was the first to record musical programmes at the Coimbatore station.
"I realized there was a lot of local talent. We were only broadcasting programmes recorded in Trichy. The first music programme we recorded was by Gururajan from Erode who was a mridangam artist. Slowly, we brought in a lot of musicians and vocalists and started regular programmes," he says. "Mill workers, labourers, farmers, handloom weavers of Coimbatore found their voice in us. We did special programmes for them," says J Bagyalakshmi, an announcer. Bhagyalakshmi, who has interviewed several musicians since 1986, said AIR still stays relevant, despite media explosion. "In radio plays, it is challenging to convey the nature and emotions of various characters through voice alone. But our listeners laughed and cried listening to our plays. That was our success," says Bhagyalakshmi.
Television had its own charm, but Tamil programmes were far and few in Doordarshan of that era. So AIR had its base of loyal listeners intact for decades. "Even now, when it comes to news, we rely on AIR for authentic information," says Ramasamy. The current crop of employees said while they want to compete with other media, they had their own restrictions. "We try to change and it cannot happen overnight. But our motto will always remain to inform first, educate and finally also entertain," she says.
Forwarded by :- Shri. Jainendra Nigam PB News Desk firstname.lastname@example.org