A day can be too long to survive in the media world, much like politics.
Eight years then would seem like an era in the life of a radio station, which had to weather through challenges to become the top broadcaster in the community.
Those eight years were also decisive in the case of Radio Tarana, which recently became a round-the-clock station, with a series of changes to enhance listener value (see our May 15, 2004 issue).
“None of these challenges could have been successfully met but for the support of a dedicated team of staff, loyal advertisers and the members of the community,” Managing Director Robert Khan said.
He did not fail to mention the unstinted backing that he has received from his family.
From that first day when the station went on air in 1996, Radio Tarana has become a veritable source of information, education and entertainment, gratifying its promoters Harish Lodhia and Mr Khan.
It has been a long ride, smooth and rough, for Mr Khan but curiously, broadcasting was perhaps the last thing that was in his mind during his post-scholastic years.
Armed with a degree in economics from the University of Auckland and postgraduate diploma in Marketing and Management from Massey University in Palmerston North, he landed in Holland to join a seafood manufacturing company.
Two years in the Netherlands provided him with the vital experience and his penchant for marketing brought him back to New Zealand. The year was 1992 and the going was rough for small entrepreneurs as the economy went south.
True to the adage, ‘when the going gets tough, the tough get going,’ Mr Khan began his foray into the entertainment industry, importing and marketing films, music tapes cassettes-everything in fact that the market could take.
The entertainment market of the 1990s was dominated by a single operator and breaking the monopoly was a formidable task.
And when he did, Mr Khan knew he could get on to a higher media plane.
The thought of a radio station, dedicated to longer hours was with him for a while but he awaited the appropriate moment.
But it was not until the early days of 1996 when opportunity knocked.
Following the official procedures, purchase of equipment (‘they were rather expensive’) and placement of experienced staff, Radio Tarana took to the air on June 15 that year.
“The vision from the beginning was to go 24/7 but a number of loose ends had to be tied up. Staffing was the most significant challenge and I knew Radio Tarana would not have the wherewithal to be a sleepless station until all issues were addressed. Even as we went about organising ourselves towards that objective, we were aware such an eventuality would not come about overnight,” Mr Khan said.
It took eight years but the march towards the goal was gradual, with every step taken firmly on the ground.
Today, Radio Tarana is a growing entity but an icon in Indian broadcasting.
Catering to a growing clientele, diverse in outlook, lifestyle, cultural background, ethnicity and even language is no easy task but the dedicated team at the station takes to broadcasting like a fish to water.
“This radio station is what its staff has made,” Mr Khan said.
“It is a matter of gratification that in an industry that is characterised by mobility of personnel, we have enjoyed a low staff turnover.”
If the complement of a well-meaning and fun-loving staff lent its helping hand at work, Mr Khan has been singularly fortunate in having yet another hand extended in understanding at home.
His wife Prakashni, an IT specialist at a large commercial bank, has been a source of strength, solace and support.
He also mentions, with a note veneration, the blessings and understanding that his parents-father Robert Khan senior and mother Mariam Evangeline (of Palmerston North) have showered on him through the years. Teachers by profession, they have been his pedagogues in life as well.
His grandparents Sultan Ali (who passed away last year) and Esther Ali had told this reporter how their ‘little boy’ has grown to become a successful entrepreneur.
“Robert has always had the urge to succeed with a penchant for hard work. We are proud of him,” they said.
In turn, Mr Khan holds them in high esteem and speaks of their benevolence and helpful attitude whenever the occasion arises.
“Radio Tarana is on a mission. We endeavour to entertain, educate, inform, preserve, develop and promote Indian culture, fostering simultaneously mutual understanding between the different originating groups in the Indian Community,” Mr Khan said.
The above article appeared in our Radio Tarana Eighth Anniversary Special, July 1, 2004
Robert Khan receiving the ‘Special Recognition Award for Community Broadcasting’ from Radio Broadcasters Association Executive Director David Innes on May 3, 2008.
Robert Khan with Labour Leader David Cunliffe and Katrina Subramaniam, winner of the ‘Business Excellence in Marketing,’ sponsored by Radio Tarana at the Indian Newslink Indian Business Awards 2013.
Robert Khan with Prime Minister John Key, Ravin Lal and others at the launch of Electionlink on April 1, 2014