29 Feb 2012

Bazaar Road, Bandra

Radio DXing.

Here's a well-dressed man with all his belongings. After admiring his socks, look at his radio with colourful aerials. If you grew up three decades back, you would be familiar with the wonderful world of Radio DXing, though we rarely used that term here. I still know a few people who still have VU2 in their email ids. Those were and are the hardcore radio guys who were the HAM radio enthusiasts.

Radio DXing was mostly for information junkies of that age. It was your quickest way to what is happening around the world. For me it was news and music. You usually got the top hits from the West only after a few months or after the Grammy Awards in the music stores, so if you needed music, you had to pick it from radio shows on BBC, Radio Australia, VOA or some European radio station. You then record them and share it with friends. Yes. We used to napster and torrent music for free even in those days. The quality of the recording was not all that important, just getting hold of the music was important.

One of the most interesting radio stations that was clearly available on all meter bands was Radio Moscow. They were always trying to hard-sell Russian Pop Music. They were no match in fighting Michael Jackson or any of the pop stars from America, Europe or Australia. And their news was always interesting, Russia was utopia. Moscow was the most modern city in the whole world. They would mention that Moscow had 4 Television stations showing entertaining programmes all day and night and we in India with one Doordarshan beaming programmes for a few hours would actually believe it.

Another interesting radio station to surf for the Pakistani Radio. All I remember now is that they were obsessed with local hockey matches. That was the only broadcast that was received clearly. Kashmir was never on the agenda then, but Indian Punjab was.

SLBC or Sri Lankan Broadcasting Corporation was at one time very popular because of their Indian programming and if I remember right, Vividh bharathi was started to counter its popularity.

The trouble with Radio DXing was that there were a lot of strange sounds an languages from all over the world and little did we know that some day there would be an internet and a tool called google translate.

And yes, Radio DXers would always get the bad news first. When some serious shit happens like Indira Gandhi is battling for life, the whole nation became Radio DXers and tuned into BBC.

There were many who did TV DXing in South India at that point of time. There was a powerful transmitter in northern Sri Lanka that could be received if you installed very tall aerials and receiving equipment. The Hindu even listed the programmes on Rupavahini, the Sri Lankan station. They had Tamil programmes that were many times better than what was in Indian television at that time. But the people who had lived in the areas bordering Pakistan would always laugh and say that the serials on Pakistan TV were the best.

We did live behind a curtain then and then the Berlin Wall fell.

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