The attack of the FM stations

Can a revival of old technology throw up challenges to newer technology? Can renewed public interest in an hitherto used and sidelined technology, be so great that it causes the masses to shun a more recent breakthrough?

"Bangalore 93.5 Mast Maja Madi" (Bangalore 93.5 Have some rockin' fun) was what I heard two radio jockeys shouting their voices off on one of the FM channels. I was in Bangalore the last week and was surfing the airwaves on my FM radio. Just five months before when I had last been there Bangalore had 3 FM stations. Bangalore now has a total of 9 FM channels.

  • Part of the reason for this rise in FM channels is the relaxing of the government regulations and the license fees that new FM startups need to pay up to start these channels.
  • The other contributor to that end has been the veritable improvements in FM broadcasting equipment and technology.
  • The increasing heterogeneity in the social makeup of Bangalore has also contributed to allowing a wide number of FM channels to share space and yet cater to key sections of Bangaloreans'

I found something else that was more interesting than an increase in FM channels. I never whipped out my MP3 player to listen to music to during my entire stay in Bangalore !! That was a first for me. I never found the need to, given the range and quality of music that was being dished out by the 9 channels day in and day out. This interested me. I asked my cousin who used to plug onto his MP3 player on his way to office in the mornings if he was using it anymore? The answer was a resounding 'NO'. Every auto rickshaw that I climbed into had one of the FM channels blaring away to glory. Cars of my friends had not played CDs ever since the attack of the FM stations. Let alone all this, the most striking fact of all that I heard was that the sales of mobiles with inbuilt FM radio in them had sky rocketed in Bangalore. I suspect that similar episodes are being enacted out in other Indian metros.

So for no fault of its, a technology like MP3 that offered more personalized audio options on the move finds itself sidelined in favor of an older technology, FM. A single FM station cannot offer music to suit every Tom Dick and Harry's tastes, but how about 9? How about letting DJ's and RJs managing our playlists than have ourselves do it? Public behavior can cause nightmares to technology predictors. While MP3 players were expected to steam roll FM out of public imagination, here we are seeing the FM empire strike back with a vengeance.

Photo courtesy: The Hindu


Vij said…
More to the list! I heard trial run of one more station, which would be coming soon!
1moreITguy said…
hey vijay! i think that in b'lore people now have a wide choice of stations to choose from! and trust me dude, we need something good to listen to when we are stuck in traffic for what seems like an eternity nowadays! most of the times i dont have to wait long before some or the other station plays my fav hits! :)
Long live FM Radio transmission!
Anonymous said…
You are right about the variety..what about the quality.I feel they all are abymsally poor!The RJs are ear-sores..and rarely make intelligent talk..and they play the same old..crude songs..The only saving grace is Indigo..infact after the attack of the FM channels..I use my MP3 regularly!