Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Can Radio Compete as a Communication Tool in Today's Audio-Visual-Sensual World?

Should Radio play a role in advancing civic and social responsibility? Sajjad says yes

(Mr. Sajjad Bazaz, 45, was born in Srinagar. He attended the Khalsa high school and the Sri Pratap College in Srinagar. He received his bachelor's degree in Media and his master's degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from the University of Kashmir. Mr. Bazaz has over two decades of experience in journalism (both print & electronic), and he is author of the book "Bankwatch" which is about a financial scenario with particular reference to the J&K state. He is currently incharge of corporate communications department in a leaduing financial instution in J&K. Mr. Bazaz likes to spend leisure time watching movies and enjoying company of his friends.)

What a pleasure listening to FM radio

Even as television has emerged as the most powerful tool having tremendous impact on the socio-economic aspects of even a common man’s life, Radio certainly continues to be the medium of the masses. With a penetration of above 95 per cent in J&K today radio has been entertaining, educating and informing listeners across the state for decades. There is no doubt about the radio having great socio-cultural impact. Being a free medium, not only does radio reach out to maximum number of people, but is available with the listeners 24x7.It provides the numbers and it provides quality.

In Radio sector, of late Frequency Modulation (FM) radio has gained popularity in J&K state, especially with the entry of private player like BIG FM 92.7. The two words of English language F and M hold a meaning for a common man as a versatile means of entertainment, information and education through quality audio broadcasting. The frequency of listening to the radio as well as the number of radio listeners has increased over the last two years. Housewives, students, shopkeepers, business executives etc. are the keen listeners of radio. In fact, FM has changed the radio landscape in J&K.

Since FM is a great platform for reaching out to the masses, it is but natural that as a responsible corporate entity the private FM also contributes towards the creation of a better society. The FM Radio has the responsibility to propagate all that is good; to ensure that the channel do not incite people through its programming to indulge in anti-social activities; that they do not differentiate between genders, caste or religion; and above all, the programming must at least follow the basic tenets of decency.

In other words, the FM players in the J&K state have to embark on corporate social responsibility drives from time to time. Though our state is in the process of overcoming hurdles hampering economic development at a faster speed, socio-economic problems like poverty, illiteracy, lack of health care etc. are still ubiquitous and government has limited resources to tackle these challenges. Some activities, which can be undertaken by FM Radio, should include cleanliness drive, disaster prevention and management drives and even a road safety week. Even programmes on judicious use of mobile phones can be done. There should be programmes where it tries to make the people aware about social activities and responsibility as well as participating in the programme for a social cause.

Now the question is why FM radio should engage in corporate social responsibility? It is because the medium closely connects with society and leads to active behavior change in young mass. It has the greater interaction with the listeners and has capacity to build customer loyalty based on distinctive ethical values. It can even help in building a strong bond within the area of its operation. It has more responsibility than just providing pure entertainment. Let the FM stations here be greater interaction medium of society and provide entertainment with a cause.
Now a word for local Radio Jockeys (RJs). An RJ has to be very open to himself. He should be culturally active - know his city well, the culture and be aware of main events taking place. Since Radio cannot survive without movies, songs or bollywood in terms of India, so awareness about them is a must. An RJ should also be able to write scripts for a show.

To be precise, Radio Jockeying depends on how you deliver. Your originality, the punch in the content, your personality, and presentation of programme and how you connect with your audience will decide your success as a Radio Jockey. Good communication powers and language skills is a necessity. Remember, humor is the lifeline of radio chatting. Jokes or mimicry adds flavor to your presentation. Do something that's normal and at the same time that has never been done in voice medium before. But do all this not at the cost of decency.

Humans have a tendency to make mistake. If an RJ somehow makes a mistake, he or she should not shy away to either admit it or cover it up quite intelligently. However, this is an art which may come up with experience. Always listen to experienced RJs and know how they tackle such mistakes. Their professionalism, relationship with listeners, the flow of their speaking and their unique techniques of interactiveness with their audiences should be an inspiration for you.

Meanwhile, the sound of private FM here has been dominating the government FMs. High production values, slick presentation, good hardware and software, skilled presenters, catchy jingles, and a keen empathy with the listener are the factors that have solidly established private FM in J&K.

However, like in other sectors where the schemes and plans formulated for other parts of India are not necessarily relevant to the state of Jammu and Kashmir for implementation, Radio sector too cannot be different. The operation of the FM stations here needs to be fine-tuned according to the local environment. These players should not shy away from the social responsibilities towards the audience. It is everyone's responsibility to endeavor towards the creation of a better society. However, FM stations should put in place plans both off and on air to ensure that the talented get an opportunity. Focus should be on large-format. The challenge is how to raise the bar of activity. It calls for a lot of innovation and local integration.

Last but not the least. The private FM owners should push for permission to broadcast news and current affairs programmes. Let authorities allow at least 5-minute news and current affairs per hour on FM radio broadcast. By allowing news and current affairs on these channels, the three main objectives of Radio broadcasting for entertainment, education and information will be achieved.

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