Sound waves

They become family, friends and sometimes phantom lovers! You wake up to the sound of his or her voice or go to bed lulled into dreams of strawberry fields forever. My father gave me a little radio for my ninth birthday and I was hooked for life. Radio ruled most of my growing up years till video killed the radio star and the idiot box stole my fantasies.
The Voice of America jumpstarted my day back then and opened a window to the world. Casey Kasem and his show AT4 was my school, my weed, my bed fellow. His signature line ‘keep your feet on the ground and reach for the stars’ became my life’s mantra.
The evolution of music from blues to jazz, to rock and roll, to disco, to R&B, to hip hop kept pace with my hormones. Little snippets about musicians or their songs became bait to grab the right fish at social dos and were great conversation starters.

When television replaced Radio Jockeys with VJs, I felt my umbilical chord had been severed. The In-your-face VJ became a stooge on a stage, a distraction and often a blot or blob! I became homesick for the aura of a voice that seeped into your consciousness and became one of the voices in your head.

It wasn’t just the music countdowns that ruled our lives but also the news hour when the family would sit straining its ears to hear the latest. Since there was no scope for perspectives and pictures with lurid details, we learned to accept the ‘need to know’ message that was mostly facts and rarely opinions. News readers became household names, including Howard Stern, ‘the shock jock’ who became the bad boy of radio and therefore a hero! 

And we listened. Instant gratification from visual stimulation was not on our screens as yet. We listened when someone spoke –– a skill, a behaviour that is in danger of going underground and gets consultants like me a fat buck.

With radio making a huge come-back in the last five years, happy days are here again. It’s a space to be heard, to be counted. It never ceases to amaze, how in an instant of air time, a multitude of listeners are connected. You have callers with diminished sanity who rant and rave, desperados who crave attention, teenyboppers spilling their love beans, die-hard romantics making mushy dedications, addicts who are hooked on quizzes and brainteasers. It really is ‘a brave new world that has such men and women in it!’

Radio on the go is a life-saver. Long drives to work are now escapades; even when you hit a roadblock or a pothole, a remark, however inane, often ridiculous by contrast, gives you another perspective and the much needed comic relief.

Often leaving the city’s air space is like leaving a lover and on your return, even as you enter Bangalore’s airspace, you hear the ‘dulcet’ tones of your local RJ rolling out an anthem and you know you’re home. And so this is for all the RJs who kick up a storm, in my morning cuppa and nightcap and whose sound bytes feed my soul, ‘let no one steal your thunder!’

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