And the channels became sounding boards and helplines at the same time. People in distress called in to give their addresses, requesting for food, water and rescue teams. Several of the FM channels suspended their usual song-based programmes and ran non-stop commentaries on the flood situation.
"I have been a regular listener of radio, mostly to songs when I cook, but never before had I realised the power of the little box sitting atop my fridge," said S Devi, a resident of Alandur.
The FM channels doubled up as voice message boards, people who were without telephone connection conveying messages to their families, friends and relatives. RJs soldiered on for long hours, ensuring that the messages were loud and clear, and not just a cacophony of woes.
And then came donations from abroad, through the radio channels. S Rajesh, a Chennaiite settled in Chicago, collected $4,000 from his friends and sent it to a city FM channel for flood relief. FM companies, on their part, sent volunteers to the waterlogged areas to distribute food packets and medicines.