31 Mar 2024  |   04:21am IST

Goa not gaga with panjim’s all india radio

Akashvani Panaji is not in tune with faithful fans of Konkani and English programming.There’s a grave frequency mismatch between what a legion of die hard AIR listeners have been used to and the seemingly new avatar of the programming of the rebranded Akashvani Panaji. All India Radio (AIR) has been the oldest source of mass entertainment in India. It is the pioneer in infotainment, wherein it news and other forms of informative programmes, along with radio plays, film music and other forms of entertainment. But the advent of private FM channels have dented AIR’s popularity over the years. Now, a large number of listeners of the All India Radio (AIR), Panaji are expressing their disappointment over the lack of popular Konkani programmes on rebranded Akashvani Panaji. VITHALDAS HEGDE finds out what ails the grand old broadcaster and possible solutions to restore its old glory

In October last year, following Prasar Bharati’s decision to phase out MW transmission across the country due to various reasons including poor listenership, the AIR Panaji merged the two channels, much to the dismay of the listeners. If that was not enough, the listeners are now complaining about the deteriorating quality of the programmes that are being broadcast on rebranded Akashvani Panaji.

In Goa, the AIR Panaji had two channels namely FM Rainbow and Primary Channel ‘Mhadei’ and with Prasar Bharati’s decision, it was merged into one channel renamed as Akashvani Panaji.

According to the listeners, FM Rainbow was the popular channel broadcasting rich content in Konkan pop music, Bollywood music and western music while the Vividh Bharati used to relay programmes from Mumbai. Vividh Bharati never transmitted local programmes.

Unlike Goa, in bigger States, listeners have a choice as they have a variety of channels in their cities transmitting different programmes and listeners can tune in to music in their mother tongue.

Even though stations were instructed by the Prasar Bharati to merge the best programmes of both the channels, the local programme officials in the State allegedly violated the directives by unfairly merging 90 per cent or primary channel programmes and 10 per cent of FM Rainbow programmes.

The listeners complain that the primary channel programmes broadcast now are all repeat, outdated and recorded more than 10 years ago, 

What is most disappointing is the fact that all the primary channel programmes being broadcast are outdated, repeated several times and recorded more than 10 years back. But the AIR Panaji programme head has refuted it.

Information obtained under the Right to Information (RTI) Act has revealed that nil youth programmes in Konkani and English have been recorded and broadcast during the current financial year.

The USP of any radio station is its connection or rapport with the listeners wherein ‘Phone-In’ programmes and interactive sessions are broadcast. What is sad and shocking is the fact that Akashvani Panaji has once again violated instructions of the Prasar Bharati by stopping ‘Phone-In’ programmes since September 2023. Moreover all stations across the country continue to broadcast Phone-in programmes and interactive sessions.

Earlier, there used to be 30 to 40 phone calls and SMS messages and request programmes per hour during prime time. But these programmes have all been unilaterally stopped without citing any reasons, according to a former programme official.

Konkani music is minimal despite it being the Official Language of the State, even as since the inception of FM Rainbow over 30 years ago, the programming percentage relating to Goa’s Official Language was never disturbed, let alone reduced. The Konkani music in prime time has now been replaced with Marathi music.

 What the listeners are asking is whether this can be done in other States. Has Kannada music been replaced by Telugu in Karnataka? Or has Marathi music been replaced by Bhojpuri or Gujarati in Maharashtra?

Due to Goa’s cosmopolitan and touristic culture for the last 30 years, three hours of prime time music was reserved for western English music, besides smaller slots in the morning and afternoon. Considering this fact, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India granted a licence to a private channel to run 24-hour English music channels in the State.

Most of the listeners are of the strong opinion that it would have been apt to merge the MW channel with Vividh Bharati while, at the same time running the rebranded Akashvani Panaji, with the content of popular erstwhile FM Rainbow. This would be a win-win situation for the station as well its listeners.

When contacted, noted Konkani writer and tiatr stage artiste Tomazinho Cardozo said, “It is unfair to Goan radio listeners. Konkani being the Official Language of Goa, more time should have been given to Konkani language. Not only more time but prime time should have been given to the programmes. What they (Akashvani Panaji) have done is that they have removed our programme and put them here and there, thereby creating some sort of injustice to the people who are listening to the Konkani programmes.”

Cardozo opined that the government should intervene in this and see that the programming is reversed because every Goan was accustomed to that. Now nobody knows what is being broadcast at what time. It is unfair to Goa.

“I feel that those who are involved in this are non-Goans. I do not think a Goan can do this. Those who have done this are anti-Goans. That is the reason that they have done this. The programmes must be reviewed and if possible the previous programming pattern should be reintroduced.”

RJ Joed Almeida said, “It is not just me but there are so many people who like the previous programmes. There are many who have migrated to other countries but still they are attached to it. A legacy has been destroyed by Akashvani Panaji by putting it into a non-prime time slot.”

“It is a radio station at the end of the day but when something is working for you and you have a connection with the audience you should not stop it. When the Prime Minister is getting connected to the people through radio then I do not know why programming should be changed,” Almeida said.

“The programme was there for donkey years connecting the people and the community. But they have killed it by the merger. Lot of the RJs also have lost their work as they are not getting slots. It is about the connections the RJs have developed with the audiences over the years,” he added.

Everybody is identified by the work they do. Goa connect is gone completely now. We Goans do not always want to listen to Hindi songs. 

The connection the people had with the All India Radio has gone down the lane. Goans live across the world. Sometimes they tune in, sometimes they do not but when they come back to Goa they want to listen to Konkani songs and their favourite RJs. But this is gone.

Recalling his penchant for radio, Jeremy Fabian Dias, who now lives in Scotland said, “Coming back from school in the afternoon it was my unfailing duty to turn on my grandfather’s radio to Rainbow FM and the family used to have lunch accompanied by the glorious Konkani hits of the yesteryears which introduced me to legendary artistes like Chris Perry, Alfred Rose Frank Fernand, to name a few.”

“The same ritual used to be repeated in the evening dinner listening to quality English

music carefully curated by top notch RJs who influenced my taste in good music. Sadly it has come to my attention that this will be the case no more which pains me greatly as radio played a great part in me connecting to my culture. I don’t understand why the people in power are more intent on killing our local culture instead of promoting it  more,” Dias said.

“Soon we will have a generation with no connection to their roots. I plead with the people in charge not to ruin the remaining vestiges of our culture for political gain,” he said.

Naguesh Sardessai, a programme host said, “Programmes in Konkani should be promoted in a big way by Akashvani Panaji because Konkani is our Official Language.”

However, Programme Head, Akashvani Panaji, Sanjay Punalekar had something different to say. Refuting the listeners arguments, he said that utmost care has been taken to air popular programmes every day.

“There is no change in Konkani programmes and also no change in language pattern. We are now broadcasting Western/English music for three hours at a stretch. I don’t know what is their concept of popular programmes? From February this year, we started a live Phone-in programme on health related issues. It is broadcast every Wednesday. We have to mandatorily broadcast relayed programmes from Delhi.”

According to Punelakar, after the merger of two channels, 30 casual announcers had to be dropped and maximum 60 have been accommodated. “We have done our best.”


IDhar UDHAR

Idhar Udhar