Social responsibility of Radio as a mass medium
- The voiceless speaks -

Seram Neken *

An evening of musical treat by All India Radio (AIR), Imphal for peace and unity :: March 31 2012
An evening of musical treat by All India Radio (AIR), Imphal for peace and unity on March 31 2012 :: Pix - David M Mayum

Power supply, water availability, road connectivity, public transport and fares, educational and health facilities, vocations and livelihood of local people, likes and dislikes, lifestyles etc. are the most frequently asked questions in the live phone-in programme "Good Morning Manipur". Thanks to the officials of Akashvani Imphal who have innovated this nice platform for discussing social issues with the radio listeners in the nook and corner of Manipur. Besides preserving the culture and tradition of the state, Akashvani Imphal has been catering to the information and recreational needs of varied listeners for many years.

Innovative programmes such as news analysis during bulletins, educational programme 'Atoppa Mangal', live phone-in interviews, Good Morning Manipur etc. have become feathers on the already enriched cap of AIR Imphal. In an effort towards boosting its popularity and social image, Akashvani Imphal has also organized Radio Shumang Lila festival and Musical Concert for peace, integrity and harmony. At the national level too, programmes produced and broadcast by Akashvani Imphal could earn laurels. It is suggested that the officials of AIR Imphal, apart from being bureaucratic, may put some thought on encouraging the lyricists, playwrights and writers of various programmes who are behind and who are in low profile, in order to continue its smooth sail in the vast sea of waves
. - Seram Neken

The CD player in my car has remained untouched for months since the AIR Imphal introduced a number of informative and recreative programmes in its Sangai Channel. Really, FM radio has surpassed all electronic gadgets in entertaining and informing listeners.

FM broadcasting ensures reception free from atmospheric noise and electric interference. Radio's popularity gets a boost with FM channel broadcasting very localized and entertaining programmes. In fact, the introduction of FM service in Manipur has increased quantum of radio listeners and popularity of Akashvani Imphal.

Good Morning Manipur is really an interesting live phone-in programme introduced by the All India Radio, Imphal on 1st January 2012. Besides airing beautiful Manipuri songs, Good Morning Manipur serves as a platform for discussing social conditions of people residing at the periphery of the state. Road connectivity, power and water availability, public transport and fare, educational and health facilities, vocations and livelihood of local people, likes and dislikes, lifestyles etc. are the most frequently discussed subjects in this programme.

It is really interesting, enlightening and as informative as the 7.30 news bulletin. Listeners of Good Morning Manipur, besides tuning to beautiful songs, can well understand the social conditions prevailing in different parts of Manipur. Thanks to the officials of AIR Imphal who have gifted the Good Morning Manipur as New Year gift to the people of Manipur.

Akashvani Imphal has been playing a valuable role in preserving the art, culture and tradition of Manipur since its inception. It may well be established that Manipuri Matamgi Esei might not reach its popularity and fame in the absence of Akashvani Imphal. Akashvani Imphal has produced thousands of beautiful lyrics and lyricists in the course of its existence. Many a Manipuri singers could expose its talents through the Akashvani Imphal.

Entertainment through music has been the sole attraction of radio listeners of the state. Pena, Khongjom Parva, Wari Liba, Lairik Haiba Thiba, Nat Sankirtan, Khubak Esei, Shumang Lila etc. which are parts of Manipuri tradition and culture find their well preserver in this electronic medium. But for the contributions made by the Akashvani Imphal, these traditional art forms might have lost its familiarity to contemporary Manipur.

In health sector, Imphal radio has been providing valuable information to listeners in the form of talks, dramas, serials and features. Innovative educational programmes such as Atoppa Mangal, Science Magazine, English learning etc. have been introduced to benefit varied sections of listeners. Interviews with eminent personalities in the fields of arts and culture, sports, films etc. along with popular Manipuri songs are regular interesting programmes of AIR Imphal.

Live phone-in programme broadcast in Khonjel Nachom is also a very popular interactive session highly beneficial to the radio admirers. Introduction of news analysis with experts during morning news bulletin is a very thought provoking programme of this station.

Overall, the Akashvani Imphal has now earned the reputation of being the best and most popular mass medium which caters to the varied information needs of Manipuris. It is the only medium that can counter the negative influences of foreign visual media on young minds.

Radio is inexpensive, its programme production being cheaper than those of television. Elaborate arrangements for materials, setting, costumes, make-ups etc. are not required. Radio is a mobile medium which one can listen to even while working in the fields or driving a vehicle. Messages through radio are instantaneous and suitable to both literates and illiterates. Considering the added advantages of the radio, many private and public agencies use it as messengers to the huge masses.

Most popular among the FM programmes of Imphal station are phone-in programmes, Shumang Lila, Tabiningba Esei and interviews. Voices of some highly talented radio anchors such as Heigrujam Devendra, Yambem Tombi, Khwairakpam Minakshi, Khangembam Sushila, Subash Athokpam etc. do not lag behind that of the renowned Nimi Mishra of Vividh Baharti.

Live phone-in interviews and Top-10 Song programmes have find its branded suitability to the voice of Heigrujam Devendra which embodies clarity and an ideal speed. Khangembam Sushila nicely adapts her voice to the anchoring of Science Magazine programme. Yambem Tombi's intellect of questions, interview techniques and vocal rhythm are appropriate to interviewing artists of all hues. Voices of Khwairakpam Minakshi and Khwairakpam Sundar find their suitability to the Lou-U Sing-U Wapham of rural programme.

Newscasts by Maibam Kamala, Ningthoukhongjam Chuni etc. can nearly replace the erstwhile voices of Bimola Devi. Voice of Lalgopal Singh which monopolized the Radio Newsreel years back has now been replaced by Wahengbam Washington and later Mehamud Khan. Ramakanta Sharma and Hanjabam Priyokumar's moderating news discussions during morning bulletin are appreciated for clarity and rhythmic.

Although the voices of Thokchom Govind and Y. Jugeshori had no parallel in the days of yore, a number of talented anchors have entered the Akashvani Imphal to serve the listeners. In English, Hindi and tribal dialect programmes, there is no dearth of popular announcers.

The Akashvani Imphal has served with satisfaction. It has contributed well in society. The recent organization of Akashvani Shumang Lila Festival in Iboyaima Sanglen and the Music Concert for peace, integrity and harmony at BOAT are laudable steps taken up by the Akashvani Imphal to establish its public relations and maintain its unique popularity among available mass media in the state.

We may well appreciate the experienced programme executives - Shri N. Lokendrajit (Drama) and Shri M. Biramani Singh (Music) respectively for such innovations, additional and extraordinary ventures. Hopefully, many such ventures are in the offing from the end of Akashvani Imphal.

On the other side of the story, the officials of Akashvani Imphal need to act with fairness and social responsibility in discharging their duties. Selection of lyrics and scripts; and appointment of artists, anchors and news readers should be based totally on merit, as any kind of favoritism will be reflected in the quality of the programmes broadcast and performances of the anchors. No amount of unfairness should be on the air.

Moreover, there seems to have certain lack of enthusiasm on the part of AIR Imphal officials in encouraging the lyricists, playwrights and writers of all hues who are the backbone of the programmes. It is not the monetary rewards that the poor writers admire, but it is the encouragement in the form of felicitation that they wish to gain. In order to continue with the beauty of the variety of programmes, Akashvani Imphal needs to honour the writers and programme promoters.

* Seram Neken wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao (English Edition)
This article was posted on April 04, 2012

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