Monday, September 10, 2007

Listening to Tamil radio the China way

ERODE: Avid radio listener from Perundurai, K. Paramasivan ran out of a cinema hall in the middle of the show and came back after an hour. The reason he did that was to listen to his favourite radio programme. "The one hour programme has been my favourite for over two decades and there has been not a day when I have missed the programme," he says. "It is so wonderfully packed with world news and cultural programmes that it has become a part of parcel of my life.” There are more than 30,000 loyal listeners like Mr. Paramasivan, who religiously tune into short wave (SW) 31.04 m to listen to these voices coming from the across the Himalayas. The programme is from China Radio International’s (CRI) Tamil Division, where the Tamil Service has been on since August 1, 1963.It starts every evening at 7.30 IST with news, news snippets and includes programmes on Chinese culture, stories, music, etc."
Listeners like Mr. Paramasivan did not just stop with listening to the Service; they also mailed the broadcasters, participated in the competition and won prizes, which included a trip to China. So much has been the overwhelming response from Tamil listeners that among all the international service in CRI, Tamil Service tops the list for maximum number of listeners’ letters.
"Last year CRI received 5.2 lakh letters, of which 3.5 lakh alone where from Tamil listeners for the Tamil Service," says S. Selvam, a listener from Villupuram. These listeners got together and have formed Anaithu Inthiya Cheena Vanoli Neyar Mandram (All-India CRI listeners’ forum).
"Every district barring Nilgris has got a listeners’ club," says Mr. Selvam, who is the club’s president. The listeners’ club conducts an annual meet in the State, which is well attended. "We are like a family and use that day to meet other family members," says Mr. Paramasivan. Not only that, the CRI encourages readers to participate in competitions.
Every year it selects a winner and sponsors a trip to China. For other listeners who regularly interact with the Service, it sends gifts. Given the popularity of the programme in the State, it appears that through air waves the people of the two countries have established a link much before the Governments agreed to open the Nathu La pass in Sikkim for trade.