Times of India Article Features TORi
In an article today, Times of India featured Telugu flavored radios that are not based in India. TORi was covered. While I question the claims made by some operators, this article is an interesting read – at least for me.
Turn up the radio: Time to bond
by Padmini Copporapu
Increasing Number Of Radio Stations Based Abroad Are Dishing Out Programmes With A Telugu Flavour Aarti was going for her morning walk when she heard the unmistakable strains of M S Subbalakshmi’s Venkateswara Suprabhatam streaming out of a house in her Dallas neighbourhood. She did a double take, wondering if she had heard right – she was still in Dallas, Texas wasn’t she? Upon inquiring, Aarti found that the local Indian radio in her area broadcast the desi programme. Ever since, she has regularly tuned into Pravas Vani and Yuva, the two most popular desi radio stations in Dallas.
Those who think radio is passe have obviously overlooked mana Non-Resident Telugus (NRTs) in the United States. Like Aarti, they frequently tune into their favourite Telugu language-based radio programmes. So much so that passionate entrepreneurs have set up many such radio stations. These are fast evolving from being mere entertainment avenues to significant platforms of community bonding, helping local Telugus share, showcase and voice their ideas and concerns.
Madhavi, an RJ from New Jersey who hosts a popular Telugu show on Dhoom FM elaborates, “While entertainment is our basic fodder; I wanted to add more texture to the show. Radio is a clean and effective forum to air our views, gather vox populi and connect with the local community”.
Clearly there’s more to these radio programmes than just music and chitchat. For instance Sridhar Dadi’s Radio Hungama in Houston also started off with popular music-based programmes (Aa Patha Madhuralu), but it now boasts an eclectic portfolio including infotainment, game shows, kids’ talent shows (Pitta Koncham, Kootha Ghanam) and interviews of notable personalities.
While interviews of celebrities such as A R Rehman, S P Balasubramaniam and Sobha Naidu earn these stations an obvious patronage, other programmes serve a more utilitarian purpose. Shows such as ‘Ask your lawyer’ and ‘Dial a Doctor’ are immensely popular, say broadcasters of Radio Hungama and Yuva.
Raghu Malladi owns Pravas Vani a station which broadcasts 10 hours of live programmes in Telugu everyday including literary programmes, interviews, chat shows, call-ins. He says that while he didn’t expect Pravas Vani to be such a huge hit but now that it is, he wants to utilise it to the maximum to help serve the community. Most radio stations also help in publicising activities like Ugaadi celebrations organised by Telugu associations.
Even as the scale of their operations and the degree of their popularity varies; these pioneers claim that they ventured into radio more out of passion than of any commercial interest. Most run on a ad-based revenue model. While some seek to recreate the grand old days of All India Radio, others are giving the traditional radio a modern makeover.
Unlike radio stations which are bound by city limits, TORi (Telugu One Radio on Internet) enjoy seamless coverage. These are webbased radio channels; each with an estimated global listenership of 40-50 thousand people per month.
Not content with conquering the internet, 3G equipped smart phones are his latest target. His team has developed a free Iphone Application and is moving onto developing the same for Android phones.
TORi has made its own tech start to cater to its vast audience base. “Any of our RJs can host a live show, simply with a broadband internet connection and a good headset,” says Mohan Venigalla, host of TORi’s most popular call-in live show ‘Mohana Murali Gaana Lahari’. In fact, some of his loyal listeners have now become RJs themselves.
While this phenomenon is widespread over the US, radio stations in other nations are dishing out prgrammes with a Telugu flavour. The Mauritius Broadcasting Company, for instance, has several programmes such as ‘Bhakti Ranjani, ‘Manam, Mana Samskriti,’Ya Evam Veda Sri Guru Paduka’ and the likes which are very popular with Telugus there. The call-in programmes are especially popular as people get a rare opportunity to interact in Telugu with other Telugu speakers, says the host of a show.
Likewise, the national radio of Malaysia, Minnal FM, broadcasts one and half hours of song-based shows everyday where classic Telugu songs are played. Radio stations in Australia, South Africa and the Middle East too are gaining in popularity by broadcasting Telugu programmes.