The importance of being heard

Published: October 18, 2010

Radio provides for women who may otherwise not have a chance to be heard.

“And you’re listening to FM 100…

“Aapka apna radio station…

“The heartbeat of Pakistan…

These tag lines sound familiar to all of us. Because at some point of the day, most probably while driving, we have all tuned into our favourite FM station.

Whether you are enjoying the ride back home while listening to music or catching up on breaking news, it is quite common for these teasers to resonate in your car. Over the years, radio channels have saliently impacted our lives -not just for their entertainment value, but in the case of the recently mushroomed FM radio channels, by providing a forum for expression for the women in the country.

It has, in fact, given many Pakistani women who choose to stay within the spheres of their homes, a voice with which to connect with millions of listeners. Depending on the nature of the show, they can discuss women’s rights, domestic issues, childcare and world affairs ­ that affect their lives.

Thanks to radio broadcasting, they can share their opinions, get advice about battling internal, societal demons and be heard, without having to enter the patriarchal public sphere.

The most frequent listeners and callers to FM channels, particularly during the day, are homemakers who want to contribute by sharing an experience, a domestic tip, or even a cooking recipe.

Many times, however, when I switch on the radio, I have the bad luck of getting some RJ, with a fake American accent, throwing gibberish at me. Just like TV anchors, who are responsible for generating knowledgeable, healthy debate, RJs too are equally answerable for what they put across through airwaves. So what if radio is a medium of the unheard?

FM listening has become popular because unlike TV (but much like reading books), radio leaves some space for an individual to imagine and interpret the meta narrative being shared on the airwaves according to their immediate experiences -there is always a greater space for inclusivity and imagination within the radio-sphere.


Sadia A Ahmed

The writer is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College and SOAS University, currently working for the Editorial pages at The Express Tribune.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.