Broadcaster off headphones after 31 years

Venkat Raman

Listeners of Planet FM 104.6 radio station in Auckland should get used to ‘remembering’ rather than ‘hearing’ the voice of Pratima Nand since the veteran broadcaster has announced her retirement after more than 31 years of service in the studio.

It has been a pleasure and a privilege to have been a part of this Community Radio Station since 1996 when programmes for the Indian community were sparse. Planet FM 104.6 provides time for many minority ethnic communities. That commitment became an integral part of community engagement,” she said.

Ms Nand presented a weekly Programme called, ‘Jhankaar,’ dealing with issues relevant to the community. The one-hour broadcast focused, among other things, on family violence in Indian homes, an issue that is often either denied or swept under the carpet.

Live interviews, religious programmes, meaning and context of Indian festivals in New Zealand’s multicultural environment and quality recipe were also broadcast on Planet FM.

Significant changes

“There have been significant changes in broadcasting content, approach to programming and the audience. Access Community Radio was established on September 21, 1987, broadcasting on 882 AM. The Studio at that time comprised old and gifted gear with a small mixer, turntable, cassette player and a couple of reel-to-reel machines,” she said.

Ms Nand said that these facilities were moved to ‘Outreach Building’ (the Old Police Station at the corner of K Road and Ponsonby Road) and later to the Pacific Island Resource Centre on Jervois Road and to the Student Union Building at the Auckland Institute of Technology (now known as AUT University).

In 2000, Access Community Radio was rebranded Planet FM 106.4 and the Station today operates from the Mt Albert Campus of Unitec at 79 Carrington Road, Auckland.

Rising migrant population

“The initiative of the Founders of Planet FM 104.6 FM proved prescient. Open immigration policy saw rapid growth in migrant population, necessitating broadcast services in many languages. Access Community Radio 810 AM eventually broadcast in 52 languages as new settlers used the Radio as a community-building tool,” Ms Nand said.

She said that absence of editorial policy distinguished Planet FM from others ensuring that community voice was heard without mediation.

“Generation of content by volunteers kept costs under control and funding subsidy through NZ On Air met diversity requirements of the Broadcasting Act,” Ms Nand said.

Ms Nand established a ‘brand’ for herself with ‘Recipe of the Week,’ interviewing religious and community leaders and film stars and celebrities.

Honours and Awards

Her commitment and achievements in broadcasting earned her the ‘MICIE Award,’ an industry honour and ‘Bharat Darshan Award’ presented by the then Indian High Commissioner K M Meena at the Golden Jubilee Celebrations of India’s Independence organised in 1997 by Rohit Kumar Sharma, Editor of ‘Bharat Darshan.’

Ms Nand served on the Committee of Management at Planet FM for ten years and serves on the Board as Secretary this year.

Photo Caption: Pratima Nand(Picture Supplied)

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