Chennai: Tamil Nadu may have five or more FM radio broadcasters across the state, but a large number of its listeners still tune in to the radio station of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) , Chinese Radio International (CRI), Deutsche Welle (DW), Voice of America (VOA),and other foreign short wave broadcasting companies. So popular are these radio stations that they even have fan clubs formed by ardent listeners, especially in the southern and western districts of the state.
“Despite the mushroom growth of several FM radio stations in Tamil Nadu the people’s hunger for knowledge has them turning to these foreign stations. I have come across several DXers (short wave radio listeners) tuning into Radio Australia and BBC for cricket commentaries, for instance,” says K. Raja, president of the Singara Chennai Chinese radio fans club.
“The data collected by foreign radio stations reveals they have over one lakh listeners from Tamil Nadu. Many people from the rural areas still tune into these stations while those in cities have technical difficulty getting long distance signals,” says T. Jaisakthivel, president, Ardic DX club, explaining that the foreign radio stations also provide listeners an opportunity to interact with each other not only across the state, but through their programmes as well. To all such listeners February 13 declared World Radio Day by Unesco is clearly special. The day celebrates radio and aims to encourage both major networks and community radios to promote access to information and freedom of expression across the airwaves.