Recently, on a trip through India, I took my short wave radio (Sony’s ICF-SW12) with me. Its a small but very powerful radio. As I travelled through Rajasthan and Gujarat cut-off from the world of cellphones and English newspapers, the radio, and specifically BBC World Service, was a great way to stay in touch with the world. It brought back memories of my childhood when the BBC and I were virtually inseparable. In the past few years, the Internet and to a small extent the TV have replaced where I get my news from.
As I experienced the joys of radio listening, I couldn’t help thinking that the radio is a much better experience than TV. With TV, one’s hand is always on the remote, looking to flip channels at the earliest. Attention span is very limited. With radio, concentration is complete. There are no distractions. One can close one’s eyes and imagine the picture being painted by what one is hearing on radio. It’s like watching a book as compared to seeing the movie. The book lets one create our own imaginary worlds – each of us can build our own worlds.
That’s why I feel one of the best gifts for a growing child/teen should be a shortwave radio. It opens one up to the world in a way TV cannot. The BBC has some great programmes. While I do listen to the world news every morning on radio, am beginning to think I should spend a little more time with the radio. There was a time 15 years ago when I had memorised their entire schedule! The radio remains for me a window to the world. Am glad I re-opened it.