Owing to technological advancements, easy and inexpensive smartphone availability, and the popularity of social media networks among all age groups, FM radio is gradually losing its importance in urban areas of Bangladesh.
“I used to listen to FM radio when going to the office or other locations, but now I use social media or YouTube,” Md. Jashim Uddin, a young Supreme Court lawyer, told Anadolu Agency.
He believed that by using social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, he would be able to easily communicate with his friends as well as receive important news and other information in the form of visuals.
Many others in the capital Dhaka expressed almost the same opinion regarding FM radio channels as Md. Jashim on the eve of World Radio Day, which is observed worldwide on Sunday.
People seemingly want to fulfill their multiple requirements through a single platform while spending the minimum time, and they are primarily drawn to social media for this reason.
“I used to listen to FM radio while cooking at home. But now, with Wi-Fi broadband at home, I use my smartphone to watch various YouTube videos or other visual channels because I don’t have to worry about running out of internet data,” Asma Khatun, a housewife in the capital’s Mirpur neighborhood, told Anadolu Agency.
When she has leisure time, she enjoys viewing YouTube videos for food recipes, child health information, and women’s beauty tips, she said.
Samira Zaman, a mother of two from Dhaka’s Paltan neighborhood, added: “My children also watch different cartoons on my smartphone.”
Radio in rural areas
Radios, on the other hand, are still quite popular in some remote areas of rural Bangladesh for providing information on important issues such as agriculture and natural calamities. Bangladesh Betar, a state-run shortwave radio station, is their main source of information.
Nearly half a million people in southern coastal regions engage in fishing in the Bay of Bengal and other major rivers, and radio is their only source of vital information during the fishing season on the open sea.
About two dozen community radio stations are also contributing to meet the entertainment and local information requirements of the underprivileged people.
Lack of quality products
So far, 20 FM radio stations have been broadcasting from the capital city, with some having offices in different divisions across the South Asian country of nearly 170 million people.
Many people, particularly the elderly, continue to listen to FM radios for news and other programs.
“I don’t see properly, and I feel comfortable listening to FM radios while laying on my bed,” Lokman Hakim, 70, told Anadolu Agency.
He, however, added that unnecessary discussions on minor issues and other low-quality programs frequently irritate him.
“Perhaps such activities are run to attract young people. However, I do not believe that this policy is prudent for long-term progress.”
Monjur Hossain, a journalist at Radio Today, the country’s first private FM radio station, told Anadolu Agency that most FM radio stations are in financial crisis and have minimal budgets that are insufficient to provide a quality program.
“Like other mainstream electronic and print media, most FM radio owners have political or business interests, and they want to exploit this electronic media to fulfill their personal interests rather than producing quality content for the public,” Hossain claimed.
Strengthening social media
Almost all FM radio stations in Bangladesh have created social media pages and incorporated visual content to survive.
“We mostly now film our audio programs and visually present them through our social media page so that we don’t lose our audience and it’s also a source of income for us,” Hossain explained, adding that many live audio programs are also visually presented at the social media page, particularly on Facebook.
Niaz Makhdum, who recently shifted to a television channel as a news reporter after quitting a four-year career at an FM radio station, told Anadolu Agency that the future of FM radio has dimmed as a result of the multidimensional growth of social media.
“I had to turn to television channels since I was feeling insecure about my job with FM radio,” he said.
Riffat Ferdous, a professor of the Television and Film Studies Department at Dhaka University, told Anadolu Agency that the development of information technology around the world has made people more conscious and serious about their time.
“If FM radio stations provide quality programmings, a large number of people will be attracted to return to FM radio,” Ferdous said, adding that listening to FM radio is the most convenient way in any situation, such as traveling or walking through public transportation or public places.
There is still room for growth for FM radio channels in the country, but long-term planning and highly professional effort are required.
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