‘Bak-bak on FM radio captures spirit of new India’

18 March 2013

Adman and columnist Santosh Desai in The Times of India:

“Perhaps no medium captures the crackling sociology of the surging new spirit of cities, particularly that of small-town India, better than FM radio…. What it does is give voice to the city in all its liquid stream-of-consciousness currency. It lives in the ever present, and does with energy and enthusiasm, an excitable running commentary on the everyday interests of the city’s residents, particularly the young.

“All over India, RJs on FM stations are evolving a unique local voice, that fuses media-fuelled aspirations with local doubt, the headiness of new opportunities with a reinforcement of an existing way of life. The tone is cheerful, electric even, and the interaction a combination of diversion, stimulation and worldly counselling….

“The conversation does not locate itself in the world of ‘happenings’, nor is in the least bit concerned with what is deemed important but in the new universe of the hyper-trivial. New malls, restaurants, shopping bargains rub shoulders with romantic problems, real and imagined.

“FM radio teases out the private into the dominion of the public, one confession at a time.

“The listener is in fact the protagonist, in the sense that radio promotes a parallel dialogue in the listener’s head as one eavesdrops into relatable situations being faced by others. The inner life of the listeners becomes part of the collective outer life, as radio symbolically helps people hold hands as they walk down unfamiliar new paths.

“Change is legitimised, made sense of and accepted as one finds oneself in the happy company of the new. The city is fed to itself morsel by engaging morsel. Packaged in the grammar of agreeable drivel, FM radio is part of the new ‘bak-bak’ economy that has sprung up in small town India, which breaks down the modern into little bits of the enjoyably trivial.”

Read the full column: The new voice of the city

Follow Santosh Desai on Twitter: @desaisantosh

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