Pune: A woman called up Akashvani to thank the broadcaster for having helped her find her missing son. Senior citizens say they are used to Akashvani and prefer it to FM channels. Akashvani also caters to students from rural areas, homemakers and even farmers. These examples show that Akashvani, launched in 1930, caters to people from all walks and stratas of the society and their programmes go beyond entertainment.
Sakal Times spoke with Pune Akashvani officials and regular listeners after local MP Shrirang Barne raised a question during the winter session of Lok Sabha and said Akashvani should make programmes which are entertaining and ensure that the transmission is barrier free.
Vilas Rabade, a senior citizen who is also associated with community radio in the city, said he still prefers to listen to Akashvani over other new radio stations. “My generation grew up listening to Vividh Bharati. So we still connect more with the programmes offered by Akashvani than FM radio stations that are targetted mainly towards youngsters. While driving, or working at home, I love listening to Vividh Bharati, as the songs played there are of my interest,” Rabade said.
“Well, this is the legacy of Akashvani,” points out a top-level official of Pune Akashvani, adding that they cater to people from all walks and stratas of the society and their purpose is not restricted only to entertainment.
“People send us hate mails if we have more commercials during the programmes,” said the official who works in the programme department of Pune Akashvani.
He further said, “We are public broadcasters and provide service to people from all sections of the society. We have entertainment, educational and informative programmes.”
Another top level official said, “We do not want to criticise any private radio channels but then we do not cater to one age group. We have English learning programmes for students from rural areas, we have special programmes for homemakers at 12 noon when they are relatively free, we have programmes for farmers in the evening when they are at home after a toiling day in the field.
We are not into revenue generation, while the private channels have to have programmes that can generate revenue for them as they do not get any funds or financial backup from government unlike us. Secondly, we believe that we are the mother of broadcasting and private FM channels are the offsprings, so a mother won’t feel bad if her off-springs are growing.”
Gauri Lagoo, a senior staffer with Pune Akashvani, said, “When we talk about the transmission problem it is because nowadays many households do not have radio sets. Akashvani has two channels AM and FM, of which FM can be heard on mobile phones and car radios, but AM does not have that kind of reach as yet. But yes, with technological advances the day is not far off when AM too can be on mobile and car radios. Besides, there are many tall buildings, mobile towers and increase in number of vehicles, which certainly affects the waves,” she added.
“The Centre has set up a committee to look into the problems of transmission,” said Union Minister of State Col Rajvardhansingh Rathod in the Lok Sabha while replying to Barne’s question. He added that there are talks with private firms for improving the quality of programmes.