SURESH RAMPHUL

Radio presenters must know the expectations of their listeners.  What is the latter looking for?  A clear understanding of this fundamental point can go a long way in adjusting and presenting programmes to the satisfaction of listeners.

Listeners want to have a variety of programmes touching upon diverse topics.  In this context, I have nothing to say as the channel does provide people with various programmes.  What people want the most is entertainment.  They want songs to make them feel at ease so that they can cope with a difficult day or night.  They want relaxation.

Some presenters are good at their job.  For example, on Monday night (2.7.2018), from 9.00 p.m. to 11.00 p.m. we had Bhojpuri songs and old Hindi film songs.  The male presenter never wasted a word.  He was brief and direct.  He never made any unnecessary comments.  The focus was on songs.  I spent a great moment with those beautiful songs.  From 11.00 p.m. to midnight, I found the festival of songs by Mukesh wonderful because we had very little comments.  Between two songs, there was merely a flash of the programme’s title.  There was nothing to disturb an avid listener like me.  It was relaxing and most pleasant.  This is how a song-based programme must be.

However, early in the mornings, we’ve lady presenters who choose to speak when a song is on the air.  They do so either at the beginning of the song or towards the end.  They speak and the sound goes down.  They pause or stop and the sound goes up.  It’s annoying and unpleasant to the ears.  One sound rule is either you do the speaking or let the song play.  Once a song goes on air, it must play without interruption, unless there’s a plausible reason, like making an urgent announcement.

One of the lady presenters tends to philosophise too much and even adopts a preaching tone with music or a song in the background.  No one wants to listen to preaching about life on a channel.  Most of the time, her remarks are mere platitudes.   It spoils your mood.  You lose interest soon.

Play songs.  Entertain people.  Keep personal comments at a minimum.  We don’t want to be told every morning that life is difficult and we must take it as it comes; we must live life with a smile and be courageous.  The comments are so obvious and commonplace that they pass over your head.  Moreover, it’s dull listening to moral lectures.  One of the vocations of a radio is to entertain.  So, the focus must be on this point because this is what listeners are demanding.  Put the listener first.  Let him enjoy music and songs, old and new, without the technician constantly raising and lowering the volume to allow an over-zealous presenter to make comments while a song is playing.  It’s ridiculous.  It’s a gimmick that doesn’t tally with modern trends.

So many times it has happened that they abruptly stop a song when it’s time for news.  Why did they broadcast a song when they knew very well that they wouldn’t be able to play it full because of time constraint?  They could have played a piece of instrumental music instead.  Stopping instrumental music suddenly doesn’t have the same impact on the listener as stopping a song does.

 Flat reading     

A male announcer has always had the tendency to read, at moments, syllable by syllable, whether it’s Hindi or Bhojpuri.  On Sunday morning (1.7.2018) we heard in the obituary section, unacceptable things like Sat-ya-jit Tul-si, So-ka-lin-gum, Moo-too-sa-my, Dhan-wan-tee, and Yogesh (with unnecessary pause) followed by the surname.  On Monday 2.7.2018, in the morning we heard L’Es-ca-lier, Vi-kram, Bas-sin Road.  Wrong pauses and syllable-based delivery are horrible reading.  They affect the rhythm.  It’s referred to as flat reading.  Many people find it impossible to accept this nonsense from an experienced speaker.  Yet we’ve several other lady speakers who read news or announcements very well.

Reading on radio must engage the interest of the listener.  Once this is done, the presenter’s job, and the announcer’s as well, is to keep alive the listener’s attention.  Good delivery compels you to listen.  Poor delivery forces you to switch channels.

Speaking when a song is on with sound going up and down isn’t modern broadcasting.  It may work in a dancing party or a discothèque, it doesn’t on radio.

Presentation is the heart of any programme on radio.  It makes or mars a programme.  That’s why it must be done meticulously.  There must be a preparation going into it.  Improvisation doesn’t mean doing whatever on the mike.  A good presenter goes over the previous day’s programme, puts himself or herself in the shoes of the listener and reviews it from the latter’s perspective in order to understand the listener’s reaction. Shortcomings would then be detected and corrected accordingly.  This is how it’s done all over the world.

On Sundays, in the evening, a programme in Hindi is dedicated to senior citizens at 5.00 p.m.  They’re invited to share their views through the telephone on a particular subject.  On 1.7.2018, it was “Family: why are our young people going astray?”  The lady who was presenting the programme was intervening much more than necessary.  She was commenting, explaining, giving her opinions, exemplifying while the participant was kept listening meekly at the other end of the phone.  It’s against the spirit of a phone-in programme.  Give the opportunity to the elders to say what they have to say.  The presenter can also participate in the debate but without hijacking or usurping their place.  The focus must be on participants.  I had the impression that she was more interested in showing how knowledgeable she was on the subject than in giving people the opportunity to talk.