My fathers love for folk music introduced me to melodious songs of Madam Noor Jahan, Reshma, Attaullah Esakhelvi, Alam Luhaar and other Punjabi folk singers at a very young age. As a result, my current playlist is an unusual mix of Punjabi kalams and western pop. One channel that has significantly influenced my love for Punjabi folk music is radio station FM 95.
While many argue that Radio Pakistan is no longer relevant, I believe that it is playing an instrumental role in promoting and reviving the regional cultures in Pakistan. One example of this is FM-95, also known as Punjab Rang. It is run by Punjab Institution of Languages, Art and Culture.
The objective behind its launch “was to increase the literacy rate, promote the culture and great services of Sufi saints, integrate all the languages spoken in Punjab and create awareness among the masses about the services and projects initiated by the government.” By revealing the richness of Punjabi culture, this channel has significantly influenced my understanding of Punjabi language. Despite Being born in Punjab, I was never encouraged to speak Punjabi. This explains how languages can impact social capital and how they are used as a tool to evaluate one's position within society. My exposure to Punjabi folk music challenged my perception of the Punjabi language. From the heartfelt Seraiki poetry recitation to the soulful voice of Reshma in Lambi Judai, every song played by FM 95 represents a different side of Punjabi culture. This demonstrates how a radio channel can create cultural awareness and acceptance.
Radio in Pakistan has gone through an evolutionary process. There was a time when it dominated airwaves; it was a source of news, entertainment, and information. The creation of Pakistan was announced through Radio transmission. Similarly, radio transmission was used to make political announcements for
decades after independence.
While Radio Pakistan has historic and political significance, its importance as a source of entertainment is equally important. Before the advent of the internet and TV, radio was the most significant electronic medium in Pakistan. Poets, singers, and leading performing artists were associated with radio. However, with the invention of TV, radio began to lose its significance.
This was soon challenged by the entry of FM radio into the market. Along with this came the wave of privately owned FM channels. Playlists became more eclectic, featuring all kinds of music from eastern numbers to western pop.
However, in this era of rapid cultural globalisation and digitalisation, the relevance of radio as an electronic medium is challenged. Nevertheless, I believe radio is a significant electronic medium of information, specifically in Pakistan where rural areas do not have access to the internet and electricity. Equally important is the consideration that the rural population of Pakistan communicates in regional languages and, therefore, mediums that value these languages are more accessible to the rural population.