Drive Prime and Drive Crime

Slightly more than a fortnight back, I had written in a Facebook note (reproduced at the end of this post) that Radio ONE in Mumbai plays the best and most varied music, because their programming strategy had been evolved to include only the best and most popular songs, and to strictly exclude any repeats whatsoever in a 24-hour period. In a day and age when every FM Radio Station was sounding like the rest because all were playing with the same basket of 75 to 100 songs in a 24-hour period, Radio ONE, in a commendable bid to be different, declared it would play 13 different songs throughout a 24-hour period – that’s not 75-odd but 312 different songs a day. Since they were tweaking their entire programming approach, they even went ahead and began calling their presenters Music Jockeys instead of Radio Jockeys, and even got a baseline that plays upon music in a major way. See, I’m an average kind of music lover, and if my reaction to the varied and truly handpicked fare Radio ONE was playing was any indication, I was confident it would catch on immediately. And it seems to have done just that — at least amongst competing Programming teams — because over the past few days, Radio City and BIG 92.7 have both begun, to use a mild word,  emulating Radio One’s programming mix of alternating new and evergreen hits. Result: much better variety of hits. But ONE’s programmer still schedules the best mix, but that’s just a very subjective view — as indeed, is everything here, and it’s completely without favour or malice — and they still don’t repeat a single song throughout a 24-hour period. Don’t know if the rest will be inclined to match that, but I hope they are — am nauseated by the same set of 20 songs from five new and recent films playing as if in a loop from one to the other station in drive prime. I caught Sajda Tera Sajda on three stations last evening at around 7.45 pm in drive prime. That’s drive crime.

A major con is the 3 or 4 songs without a break. It was an innovation when Radio City – if memory serves me right, and please correct me if I’m wrong – introduced it long back, but now that’s just what it’s become – a con. Your RJ hasn’t reported in time, or s/he hasn’t got a script or pointers ready in time and is still scrambling to find and line up the songs to play out and that, if you already have a host of commitments to advertisers, means you cannot try and undo the damage of your late-coming or other indiscretions, and so you’ve got to proudly say, chaar gaane chipak ke or teen superhit gaane or whatever stylish nomenclature you wish to hide behind. Not on. I already have a thousand tracks on my car stereo USB or DVD lined up and ready to play, in handpicked folders.  Radio is about ‘presenting’ music, not looping it, wouldn’t you say? So get more efficient and unglue those chipkay huay chaar gaane.

Also, why are the  automated playout softwares of stations behaving as  if they’re the Malishkas and Raju Khers and  Archanas and Salils of the world and can replace them on air? I mean – more than once one’s heard them play out just songs interspersed with the program and RJ’s. In fact, one misses Malishka the most when she’s not there, and at such a time, you hear her show packaging announcing Morning Number One Malishka ke sang, followed by her hearty laughter, and it seems like she’s saying we’re having one at your expense, dude!

Prachi of RadioONE had been a put-off last week due to her excitable and loud announcement mode, but last evening was really cool and conversational. She was five notches down on the hyper scale and very listenable. She has a great voice and I just hope she’s decided to change vocally for the milder (read better) and wasn’t under the weather. Great work Prachi, keep it going.

Rohit on Radio City last evening was very good – has a great voice, is conversational but in the look-ma-no-hands-“I-speak-so-fast!”-mode. But as long as he can do it without skidding, and can shed just a little of the banality, who’s to complain? If he’s the same guy who used to present on BIG FM, well, it’s BIG’s loss and City’s gain. I remember that on BIG, he was sort of reined in, and sounded a little too pre-meditated.  Early years? But on Radio City, he’s shed the inhibitions and does put his good voice to good use.

Loved Fever 104’s parody of Sajda this morning.  Much better written and produced than their other parodies. They should make these parodies available for caller tune downloads.  In fact, Radio City too should make their Babbar Sher similarly available (don’t know if they’re already doing this. I believe it was out on CD, if memory serves me right). To my mind, the Babbar Sher filler’s packaging is one of the best and most memorable of its kind.

Let me find out who’s actually selecting and scheduling the music on Radio ONE; this is someone who shares my taste in music, so I want to know him or her better.

Enjoy the music. And share your views, please.

And drive safe.

(Here’s the Facebook post I referred to above:

Fatafat review: Drive-time FM in Mumbai this morning

Monday, 25 January 2010 at 16:52

  • Radio One 94.3 FM was playing the best music – no repeats all DAY is their promise, and the music was great. Now if only they would bring back Jaggu and Tarana for some good natural, chuckle-inducing, fun banter.
  • Best sound quality: BIG 92.7 FM. Second Best music: Fever 104 and BIG.
  • Best and truly seamless audio packaging – Fever 104.
  • Oh, and there was this RJ, who has a lovely voice, is extremely fluent and has an excellent vocabulary plus is fluent with at least four languages. Yes, every time I hear him, I cannot help but flip to any other station. Why? Because he seems to be so full of himself that he refers to himself in the rather grand third person (“soch rahe hain” abhi aapko bataayenge!” etc) but addresses Mumbai and his listeners as “tu”. If only he would realise that the worst thing an RJ can do is wallow in the sound of his own voice and let it show on air, he would get immeasurably better. Any guesses who this is?
  • And speaking of RJs, my favourites are Malishka of Red FM (alas, was missing this morning, but strangely, the slightly shrill Nayasha was hosting the show with the usual Malishka show packaging) and Rohini of 104. But my all-time favourites in the recent crop of voices on FM are Tarana and Jaggu (together ONLY). And my all-all-time favourite radio voices are: Amin Sayani, Pandit Vinod Sharma, and Brij Bhushan Sahani (used to present shows on AIR’s Vividh Bharti — Aakashvani ka panchrangi kaaryakram!)

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