By Anirban Mitra
Calcutta, 5th October 2014.
“Dear Radio, do you have to play a song I like when I arrive at my destination?”
– A teenager post #5085.
When I finally arrived at the station with my Dad, the tail light of the last bogey blinked at the far end of the platform. I remember I missed a long distance train for the first and probably the last time in my life as I was glued on to a film’s climax on television. No, we did not have a video player at home, then, to play a movie of choice at any time. But that was, I believe the whole fun of enjoying broadcasts. Programmes and surprises to enjoy -and all of them at real time, on air. Either you are on, or you miss it. Just as simple as that.
I think the portable transistor sets came in India in the 70s, along with the ultra portable, palm sized radios, which were great devices for following the cricket or football match commentary. My aunt was given such a portable set while in her studying days in hostel and I remember using it, myself – more as a toy. Pity.
Its a National Panasonic RQ-565D.
When was the car radio introduced in India? I am not sure, but I remember seeing one of them in the 80s, in an Ambassador car of one of my relatives (who were quite affluent in those days). The radio was fitted on to the custom made, wooden dashboard and looked awesome.
Till the 60s, my Dad says – a Radio was a luxury in India. On special days of important events - people in a locality used to queue up in the house which had a radio and everyone followed the broadcast, together. Of course, prior to the great Durga Puja Festival, there was the ‘Mahalaya’ aired at dawn and it was a ritual never to miss.
When I was staying outside Calcutta for work and visited home on the weekends – in the early 2000, my sister told me, once, I remember – ‘Do you know, something called FM has been introduced. The channels are great and they play crystal clear music and mostly without advertisement breaks!’. Subsequently I purchased stacks of blank cassettes (Desi Meltrack and imported TDK, Sony HF 90) to record the late night FM broadcasts of rare interviews and Western Classical Music. I would patiently wait for the announcement to know what is being played so that I could catalogue my custom made cassettes. One day I could not follow the pronunciation and the following day called up the AIR (All India Radio) office to enquire. Mr. Ranjan Mitra, the famous compère was on the other end of the line and I asked – ‘Sir, could you kindly let me know what was played yester-night? ‘Archduke Trio’ – he smilingly said and also asked me what else do I listen to and like in music? J
‘The Music I Live by’ & ‘Mozart and I’.
Must be a special one as he chose to pose with it.
Fortunately this radio I have in my collection :-)
And there’s a story behind each radio. The circa 1943, British Mullard, 12 band set I have with me was bought by a gentleman who wanted to have a radio which was made during the years when he was born /was very young! That was his unique fascination and later he gave it to me almost for free. He wanted to ensure the radio gets a good home. The 1947, Made in England Bush radio I accidentally spotted and casually picked up from a dealer and it plays wonderfully well. One of my best buys. I always feel someone might have tuned-in to it to hear the transfer of power in August 1947. Also, putting the wrong polarity in an AC/DC set taught me a lesson about these sets – a mild shock and a smile from the aged technician to tell me to reverse the plug.
Thanks to the collectors, enthusiasts and various forums around the world. I have received a lot of support and information from the web and from kind souls around the globe who love to ensure those radios play again!
A perfect example of the radio personified.