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FM Radio players offer yeoman service during #MumbaiRains

Tuesday, August 29, 2017, which saw as much as 331.4 mm of rains being dumped in Mumbai, saw much of India’s financial capital submerged and come to a halt. This rainfall was the heaviest in Mumbai since the July 26, 2005 deluge which saw Mumbai receive as much as 944 mm of rains. 

Even as people struggled to reach their homes, trudging through even chest high water, walking for hours or stuck in kilometres long traffic jams with no food, water and shelter. 

Amid all the mayhem, what shone through was the generosity of Mumbaikars as they opened their hearts and homes, offering help to complete strangers. And a formidable weapon this time was social media, which was used extensively by people to give information regarding where all help was available in the form of food, water, shelter and even wi-fi. Mumbai Police played a commendable part in easing the woes of those stuck on the streets by giving out real-time info and traffic updates and also helping out cars stuck in the swirling waters and providing free towing service. 

FM radio players, too, proactively lent a helping hand – providing traffic updates, train schedules, waterlogging, conveying the messages of those stuck on the streets, and even opening up their offices to those who could not make it home. 

Radio Mirchi was ready with “chai, water and Maggi” at its office for whoever needed help. Prashant Panday, MD & CEO, Radio Mirchi, remarked, “Radio stations always actively participate in various occasions. Without radio, there is absolutely no way for the authorities to connect with the stranded citizens.” 

For their part, Radio Mirchi gave updates on train schedules, weather forecast, waterlogging, etc. “Apart from this, we got Devendra Fadnavis, Chief Minister of Maharashtra, on air who urged the people to stay at home. We also provided information about the places offering free and safe shelter and food,” Panday added. 

Abraham Thomas, CEO, Radio City, too, believes that radio is the lifeline of any city and becomes a critical medium of communication, especially during times of emergency. 

He added, “Radio broadcasts are effective in connecting people even when vital services like mobile networks and electricity supply get disrupted due to natural disasters and, therefore, becomes an indispensable tool for providing timely, relevant and practical information.” 

“On August 29, 2017, when the city of Mumbai was completely flooded due to a torrential downpour, Radio City dropped its regular programming and launched ‘#EmergencyGuest’, an initiative that helped us to get connected with those who were stranded with other citizens offering help where the listeners were requested to provide their location and inform Radio City the number of people they could accommodate at their residence,” Thomas informed. 

He further said, “On our evening show ‘Takatak Mumbai’ hosted by RJ Rohit Vir and RJ Harshit, we asked listeners to convey messages for their loved ones who could have been stranded amidst the rains. Additionally, not only did Radio City pledge to motivate stranded citizens by playing inspirational songs, but also provided shelter and food to those who were stuck near the studio.” 

Radio City also shared regular updates from the Railway authorities, BMC and Mumbai Police to ensure that the citizens did not miss out on any critical information related to the situation, thereby ensuring their safety. 

While Red FM was constantly giving minute by minute updates to Mumbaikars about the situation on the road, the FM player was also informing them to stay safe and remain indoors. 

“Our message to the citizens always begins much before any such situation arises, for instance, we addressed this issue with the Sonu Song – ‘Pothole Rap’ – early on. Every year, we have been doing something called as the Pothole Utsav, where we take the local corporators to the streets, pointing out potholes where they, in turn, immediately take a call to action by mending those potholes to help avoid any hazardous circumstances,” said Red FM’s RJ Malishka. 

She further said that during such panic situations and circumstances, any and every little initiative also counts. “Be it updating the listeners about the traffic scene or even directing them towards places that offer shelter, food and drinking water to ensure that everyone who is stranded is led to safety. I believe in our small way, all of us whether radio stations or other industry players try and contribute to stand by every single Mumbaikar and keep up the spirit of this city,” RJ Malishka added. 

Players urge allowing news on private FM radio 

This brings to the important question of allowing news on private FM radio stations. According to Prashant Panday, “Denying radio stations the right to do news is totally unfair when all other media can do so without restrictions.” 

He affirmed, “Radio broadcasters have shown themselves to be responsible corporates. The government can trust us. We have earned this. We urge the government to lift the arbitrary restriction on news.” 

Agreeing with Panday, Abraham Thomas, too, maintained that radio had time and again proved to be a responsible medium of communication, standing out in emergencies and crisis management situations. “Authorities from various departments engaging in disaster relief activities turn to radio as the primary means of communicating to the masses with the latest updates and information. With the increasing possibility of unverified information on social media platforms having the potential to cause panic amongst the citizens, radio becomes a more vital, credible and reliable medium for collaboration,” he added. 

RJ Malishka noted, “As a radio station, Red FM has always ensured to share regular updates with the listeners. This is not only focussed on current affairs, but also includes updates on Cricket, Bollywood, etc. Radio is basically not allowed to broadcast news, but just provide updates on various topics.”

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