Sunday, May 20, 2018

My Radio Days (and Nights) - Remembering Saturday Date


Do you remember where you were on a hot May Saturday night like this - 10 years ago? What about 20? 

Thirty years ago, on a Saturday night like this, I was sitting in the studios of All India Radio Mumbai spinning the records (as the Radio Jockey or RJ) doing my first ever Saturday Date, the very very popular Pop request show at the station. 

We literally grew up on the show. I remember listening as a small kid trying to catch familiar names especially around family birthday times. Listening to all the famous songs of the 1970s including ABBA and Boney M.

I'd just finished my HSC (Grade 12) and was doing a summer assignment on a bank audit in April, when I received this letter in the Government of India Service yellow envelope offering me the opportunity to present Saturday Date. The previous letter (the first), I had received from the Radio Station was to do a Sports update on their youth show, which I had ignored. Was this really an invite to host Saturday Date. Could it really be possible? Visited the radio station and met the undersigned, a wonderful lady called Ms. Sarla Mirchandani, who put me directly on to training at using the studios at the station. After a few guidelines on how to do the show, there I was live on the Radio Waves

Earlier in the week on a sunny afternoon, I did my first show as a casual announcer introducing a piece of classical music. And in preparation for the Saturday Date, was handed over a bunch of postcards, inland letters and other envelopes for me to browse through so I could make note of the requests that were lined up for the show - maybe a 100 or more requests to browse through and organise. What did you write In Your Letter?

The bunch included a host of birthday and wedding anniversary requests with a host of others just for listening pleasure or special dedications to a youthful crush. Among the popular requests were Eric Clapton, Stevie Wonder and Shakin' Stevens 

Give Me Your Heart Tonight was among the favorite dedications to someone loved, but even more requests came for Wonderful Tonight

As I spun the requested songs that week, this song ruled the Billboard charts that week - Anything For You 

Over the next few months, I was a regular at the radio station - hosting music shows in the afternoons and evenings including many more editions of Saturday Date and Music On Parade on Wednesday night. As I got around in college in my first year of B.Com, people shared their feedback on my shows. Or passed on requests to be aired on the next show of Saturday Date - a popularity I soon enjoyed. 

Over the next few years, my knowledge of music grew by leaps and bounds as I explored different genres of music. Anytime I was free after college, I'd take the train over to Churchgate, and walk into the Akashvani Bhavan to go to the music library where I could spend many hours exploring the vinyl records or just Listen To the Music.

The radio experience is what eventually made me explore compering at weddings and other occasions... that gives me great joy even today. As I look back at the years and all the wonderful experiences and opportunities I've had to entertain in these thirty years, I just look up towards heaven and say Thank You For the Music.

As I woke up this morning recalling my experience on radio, 30 years back.... my mum made her own personal appearance on radio today on Susegad Danpaar on 104.6FM in Auckland, NZ.

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