First published in September-October 2004.
Pakistan’s airwaves have changed forever with private radio stations mushrooming across the country – a potential goldmine for the owners, who no doubt, are busy doing the revenue math.
Flipping through the channels more often than not one can usually find a decent song on, something we couldn’t have dreamt of two years ago. Yet, for some reason, our self-professed ‘RJs’ want to yak more than they want to play music. And the accents! Urdu is spoken with these funny accents where yaar is said about 15 times in 10 minutes with rolled R’s. And the English comes in all accents – some of them quite genuine I would imagine, but most of them quite put on.
You know a put on accent because somewhere in the middle the V’s and the W’s are mixed up, not to mention the slip of the ‘wat’. Why don’t they just speak as they do? You don’t see Jamaicans trying to speak like someone from New Jersey on Jamaican radio or Sri Lankans trying to speak in British accents. If you have one then so be it, but if you’ve never lived outside Karachi or Pakistan it’s not something to be ashamed about. If you’re going to speak in Urdu, do it properly, and if we insist on speaking in English, let’s give that a good shot too. It’s been 50 years and counting; we really need to be comfortable with who we are.
Let’s move on to the content. The other day, I caught an RJ talk while playing Hotel California – the Eagle’s classic and saying, “yaar, this is such a k-oool song. Naya he naaaa?” I’m not a violent person but trying to keep the car on the road after that moronic remark was a task and a half.
Maybe the inane banter and the airhead intellect is a prerequisite or maybe even part of the business model. Why can’t the people in charge of the programming give a crash course on music to these RJs? Radio has been an agent of change since its inception and even after the advent of the television, is it too much to ask of them to raise the bar? Do any of the media walas have the vision to raise the standards to where we provide some quality entertainment?