Back and Forth

Radio -> Television -> Internet era (YouTube/Netflix/HBO Now/iTunes/Amazon Instant Video…and many others) -> Podcasts

1950s-1970s (small town life in South India)

My parents often reminisce the days when they were growing up. They talk fondly about how popular the radio was. Television was rare in a middle class Indian household in those days. From commentary on cricket and hockey (right, I know a lot of you might not even understand the complicated rules of Cricket but it is a huge sport in India, it is a religion of its own! So don’t raise your eyebrows you cheeky people :)) to film songs and news broadcasts – radios had an important functional role for the society. My mum even talks about how her family didn’t own a radio and so she would listen to songs while her neighbour played them on theirs. And these were fond memories for my parents.

Early 1990s (life in a small city in West India)

And then fast forward the story a little to when I was born. We owned a black and white television set and the only channel we received was DoorDarshan, one of the largest broadcasting services even today, that pioneered analog broadcasting in India. And now you could SEE things! If you didn’t grow up without television, you;d never understand what this means. So with the new TV, I grew up watching a series called Seahawks ( I have no memory of watching this as I was very little but apparently I did sit and watch it with my parents) and dancing to film songs as they played on Sunday evenings in some programme. I also have a strong recollection of my grandpa catching up on news all day long. We also owned a radio through this all. And every night, my parents and I would listen to songs on it till we fell asleep.

Late 1990s (life in the same small city in West India)

Fast forward a little bit more to when I was about 5/6 years old. We owned a colour television now. I felt like royalty! We got subscription to many more channels. We could watch multiple programmes. We were spoilt with lots of choices. There were series to watch, movies, sports…Wow!

And then…in the early 2000s, reality shows took television by a storm. Everyone was hooked to the drama and the limelight in reality shows. And we all laughed at those silly jokes, felt the tension as the judges screamed at contestants and held our breaths as they took that loooong pause before announcing the winner. And reality shows still dominate most television channels.

Our routine of listening to songs on the radio at night continued. But we had upgraded the radio a bit. We now owned a radio that could be controlled by a remote. So we didn’t have to walk up to it to turn it off when everyone had fallen asleep.


Reality shows were good. but suddenly internet was huge! Everyone had internet connections in the form of wifi and mobile data packs and what not! And YouTube was the next big sensation. All these series we used to watch earlier on TV, waiting for a whole week before the next episode was telecast, were now being screened on YouTube. And this went for a while until Netflix came up with a model where you could watch everything online. You didn’t have to wait for the next episode anymore. Everything was right there. And a lot of other such models are also now functional.

2016 – present day

Everyone around my is hooked to podcasts. It’s a bit like radio over the internet instead of on an actual radio! You listen to stuff instead of watching it. And I was curious enough to know what that feels like and so I decided to listen to a podcast as well. I listened to one on the Arushi Talvar Murder case and then I listened to another called the Serial (you might be more aware of this one perhaps). After season 1 of Serial, I really liked the idea. So now I am listening to season 2. And now I also have an app to listen to podcasts on my phone. And the app is called Podcast Addict (you can get it from PlayStore if you own an android phone). And I went ahead and downloaded about 15 different podcasts that interested me. And I think I will listen to at least a few of them…

So…am I back in the 1950s? Are we moving forward to back in time?

I do now understand what my parents said about radios though. I understand what it must have felt like to only ‘listen’ to everything and not actually ‘see’ them happen…it was a different world that one. And through podcasts I think we are taking a step back towards that time….this is almost like time travel, eh?

PS, I did write a post a couple of months ago or maybe a bit before then about radios…clickΒ HereΒ to read it if you haven’t.

Leave your comments below on what kind of podcasts you listen to. Any recommendations? And did you grow up in the radio era or the television era?


10 thoughts on “Back and Forth”

  1. When I was born in the late 60’s our family had a black and white television, upgrading to a color set a few years later.In the seventies, I remember my grandparents still listened to their radio to hear baseball games ( an American favorite next to football) instead of watching on tv. They had been accustomed to listening and preferred it. I don’t listen to pod casts but prefer to watch shows or read on social media.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow your journey has been quite similar to mine in growing up with black and white television and upgrading it etc. πŸ™‚
      There’s something amazing about podcasts and radios.. They create a world that you then imagine and it all feels real. πŸ™‚ If you get the opportunity to, try giving it a shot.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I grew up in the ’50’s listening to professional baseball and college football (USA style). As I look back, two things stand out: (1) The games seemed more exciting then, more so than seeing them on TV now with the endless analysis and multiple replays; even exciting than actually being there because, as other comments and you yourself indicated, imagining an event or story through the medium of a skilled human voice puts you into the situation more actively and personally. (2) listening on the radio is both more engaging and freeing than watching television, which seems to be more hypnotic, almost like a drug (I can mentally tune out a bad radio segment and pick it up later, but for me the only tuning out with the TV is the on/off switch) Maybe some of what I mentioned might explain the popularity of podcasts, although not having a smart phone or earbuds (? …earpiece, headset? keeps me from trying out that form of storytelling or personal commentary.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Albert, how wonderful to hear about your childhood and experiences with the radio πŸ™‚
      Yes, I agree that the television is way more addictive than radios and it is almost appalling the way it is controlling lives these days. I find podcasts more interesting as, like you said, it is easy to zone out of it and get back to it when you please. And it is a great thing to indulge in while doing mundane things at times πŸ˜‰
      Honestly, I am happy to hear that you don’t have a smart phone. I would gladly give mine away if I could. The only reason I have mine is that I am far far away from family and it helps stay in touch. If you have a computer, you can also listen to podcasts on those πŸ™‚


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