Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Meow. Cats transmitting over Delhi!

You know, one is tempted to write- If a stock market bubble can be identified when the paanwallah starts asking for/handing out tips, a media bubble is possibly round the corner when radio stations called Meow are launched by respected media groups.

Yes, Delhi has just witnessed the launch of yet another radio station, Meow 104.6, from the India Today group. The group which used to own the Red FM badge, before they sold it to start life anew in the second round of license bids.

To return to the original premise, does Meow really signal intemperance? My feelings are mixed. As the only ‘womens’ radio station in the country, it is certainly unique. The business case is presumably the same as the soaps we have on TV, made for, of and by women. And it certainly adapts the Ekta Kapoor dictum loyally to Radio, namely, “ In Cinema, Men are the heros, even as women provide the eye candy, but in TV, it is the other way round”.

So you have a never ending series of shows through the day where some very bright young(?) things discuss problems and issues facing women. Some quirky, some serious. From getting rid of pesky relatives to the tendency to let go after marriage…To be honest, as of now, it is a welcome break from all the songs on the other stations. And yes, even they have songs, with the occasional bright choice one would expect from ‘thinking’ RJ’s.It also seems to depend a lot more on viewer call-ins than your normal radio station. And besides the insistence on greetings starting with a meow, so far it has been interesting. After all, this is the only station on air currently that finds it worthwhile to keep announcing a disclaimer that the views of everyone on the station donot reflect those of the company, almost like the mutual fund disclaimers we hear in commercials. So maybe the plan is to dive straight into some interesting topics. Though I wish they would get off topics which invariably paint men in a bad light, like “Do men spread canards about successful women”, or Are they chivalrous etc etc. I wish they would throw a little light on truly intriguing stuff like how a woman turns a whole room against a man without saying a word, or how she cuts down a man to size without saying anything that is literally at least, a put down. Or how women can be their biggest critics, be it the workplace or home. Or how office women seem to be divided between those who married early and had kids, and those who didn’t. With both trying their best to look happier.

With a station like this, there is the obvious trap of speaking to the converted,ie, discussing issues where a vast majority of your audience can be expected to have the same views, taking the interest away from a vital demographic, namely, males. Just this morning, the discussion was on whether homemakers are given as much respect as working women, with the usual litany that it ain't enough. Among all the callers who called in, not, one, or the RJ's, had the common sense to surmise that the so called respect for working women might simply be because they bring in money. And in doing so, become more like males, ergo respect from 'fellow' males:) But seriously, they do need a dash of honest to goodness plainspeaking at times.

The RJ’s are certainly fresh, ‘liberated’girls who wear their views on their shoulders, and do not fight shy of hitherto uncomfortable issues. Lovers frequently get mentioned in the same breath as husbands, boyfriends.The chatter is expectedly inane at times, but mostly, surprisingly decent. The gushing over rockstars and other school girl fantasies is a little over the top, but then, it is meant to be a women’s station. And it's fun to listen to the way callers whose views seem to be way off their own view are quickly thanked and eased off the airwaves.

So will it spring a surprise?
If it makes it to the top 4 in Delhi, that would be surprise enough. Will that happen? Check this space in six months….

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