How AIR Madras reached out to public with innovative programming

Studio-bound broadcasting, of which we get a goodly share in India, tends to lose touch with the listener as well as navel-gaze. When AIR Madras decided some weeks ago to start a social experiment of its own, it could not really have foreseen the tremendous human response it would get. Breaking away from monotonous cliches about the dowry system it invited correspondence, to which it guaranteed confidential treatment, on the subject: “Why I did not get married.”

It was soon the recipient of heart-rending letters from young girls describing what terrible agonies they and their parents had undergone over pre-matrimonial cruelties and, of course, the dowry menace. Narrated in the first person singular, these letters were then broadcast in the Young India programme of AIR Madras. Within weeks, some young men and women formed an anti dowry association which soon rose to 160 members.

Charmingly enough, two marriages, without any dowry, of course, have already taken place among the members. The association is now growing in strength and AIR Madras can proudly claim to have fathered it.

One of the other programmes from Madras which aroused great listener interest was a recent youth programme on pre-marriage sex. It was spirited and frank discussion and had opened up new avenues in broadcasting to what is still a fairly tradition bound society.

Women’s programmes in most AIR centres, tend to keep urban and rural women in water tight compartments. Madras made another experiment by going out to the village to record village women on their particular problems and then broadcast this back to urban women.

Similarly, the industrial broadcasts of AIR Madras encourage workers’ participation and workers forum, which again is a change from the usual talking down by those at the top.

Source : The Economic Times

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