Venkat Raman –
It is amazing how people recognise you by your voice, years after you have stopped talking.
The human voice is such a powerful resonator that you need not be seen to be recognised.
That happens on Radio Tarana all the time.
The Studio team keeps its tens of thousands of listeners informed and entertained, apart from engaging them in conversation, round-the-clock without ever seeing them.
But the community engagement of the people at Radio Tarana is so intense that they are seen at scores of events throughout the year, the most significant of which are Holi, Navratri and Diwali, in addition to Tarana’s own events, which almost always witnesses the presence of Hindi film celebrities, a separate report on which appears elsewhere in this Anniversary Special.
Back to the voice recognition exercise for a moment. This Reporter was discontinued from the ‘Current Affairs Programme’ after a regular slot with former Prime Minister Helen Clark ended in November 2008. Many called to say that they missed the chitchat but change is the wake of life.
However, to this date, there are people, who, after hearing a few words, exclaim, “We used to hear you on Radio Tarana!”
That we believe is the power of the Radio; and over the years, Tarana has indubitably become the most popular Indian Radio station in New Zealand. Its programmes can be accessed through the internet or mobile anywhere in the world at any time. People from New Zealand and other countries call over the phone or the internet to participate in the current affairs programme, question leaders, request for their favourite film song, greet people on birthdays, wedding anniversaries and get to know of people who leave us. This is a wholesome station that combines the seriousness of the newsroom and the friendliness of the studio to offer a bouquet of services that have become the fragrance of the Indian radio listeners. No doubt, there are many other players but most of them are restricted by time, coverage and resources.
Unheard of Competition
It is often said that two types of businesses exist: (a) those with a modest beginning with modest resources progressing into an organisation of reputation and (b) those that launch their business with plenty of money, not as healthy competitors but as ‘assassins,’ with a vengeance to kill.
The latter always remain as ‘also-rans,’ for there is no place for opulent upstarts. This is people’s business and public support is paramount.
Competition is the most important aspect of consumption, because it provides consumers with choice and enables them to exercise that choice to demand the best from those offering products and services. It encourages companies to innovate, diversify, improve the quality of products and services and offer them at affordable prices. A market with healthy business practices emerges for the benefit of everyone in the community and the country.
Unfortunately, reality is far removed from the theory of economics. Newcomers challenge the established organisations, not with matching quality of products and services, but with cutthroat razors, perpetrating price wars. That indeed is the status of the Indian media in New Zealand today
The Tarana team is made up of people with varying talent, approach to life, vicissitudes and a thousand other things that constitute a family. Among them are specialists in local and international politics, current affairs, community issues, music, production, sales, scheduling and accounts; there are a few who are adept in all of these. Harnessing these resources to the benefit of all is a task at which Managing Director Robert Khan is a master. How he fosters the family spirit and leads the team to deliver the best is in itself a story but as it is often said, ‘everything fits into place if you have a clear vision and know what to do.’ Everyone- well almost everyone responds to love and friendship, and that has been the experience of this radio station as it marked the commencement of its 20th anniversary year on June 15, 2015.
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 gets 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.”
“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.