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Tuning in, to the people

29-July-2005
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Tuning in, to the people

FM radio proved its worth when everything else seemed to be drowning. It provided a vital link - offering information, relaying messages, providing live status reports and generally comforting people.

Most radio stations suspended or reduced music to and turned themselves into information points, help-lines and morale boosters all rolled into one. From feel-good stories of aunties distributing 'poha', biscuits and chai designed to bring cheer to wet commuters, FM stations served the need of the hour by giving timely transport bulletins.

Radio Mirchi's strategy in the initial phase was to provide information and relieve anxiety by connecting people to their kith and kin,the CEO of Entertainment Network (ENIL), AP Parigi told ET. “We then brought information about the utility services - Reliance Energy's Mr Jalan, airlines, train services and mobile services - to keep people in the know. We even put the CM, Mr Vilasrao Deshmukh, on air to boost the rescue operations,” Mr Parigi added.

When there is no electricity, and when information on safety and health issues are to be relayed quickly, radio is the best medium, the Mirchi chief pointed out. Radio Mirchi is part of the Times of India Group.

There were other instances of the impact of FM radio.A Honda City driver stuck in the swirling traffic rang in to 'Radio City' on Tuesday to give his location and car number to offer his car phone charger to those whose cell phone batteries had died out. Dozens of commuters listening in made their way to the good samaratin's car to bring their hand sets back to life!

On Wednesday, when people were still stuck in the deluge, an RJ with FM station 'Go 92.5', cruised around the western suburbs, giving a running commentary on which roads and localities were still under water and how to avoid snarled junctions. Another RJ on the station kept reminding listeners in the cozy environs of their homes to help those in distress outside in the streets.

Radio City suspended music and opened up 10 lines to take calls and relay messages crucial to people lost in the mayhem. In the first night of the swirling waters, Radio City received 10,000 calls from desperate and stranded commuters.

Where television found it difficult to reach places and give live updates because of technical difficulty in reaching and transporting equipment, radio stepped in with round-the-clock commentary and updates that required just a phone line and the members of the public stepping in as 'reporters'.

Most radio stations stations suspended or reduced music to a bare minumum and turned themselves into information points, help-lines and morale boosters all rolled into one. From feel-good stories of aunties distributing 'poha', buscuits and chai designed to bring cheer to wet commuters, FM stations served the need of the hour by giving timely public transport bulletins.

By Thursday, the music was back. But the radio stations continued to remind listeners of the terrible 48 hours with real life story-telling of individual exploits and experiences.

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