SARGODHA: Long time ago when people were passionate about the Radio, it was the foremost cheap medium that facilitated and entertained people. In today’s scenario when the life is without time to entertain ourselves; we can still be in touch with the radio via our cell phones and can enjoy instantly.
To get a sneak peak of Radio station and how it has works, today we have a celebrity with us, Asad Munir, who is a Program Producer at University of Sargodha.
The News Tribe: Tell me something about yourself?
Asad Munir: I belong to an educational family of Gujar Khan (Rawalpindi). I did my matriculation from Govt. M.C. Boys High School Gujar Khan, then did intermediate and bachelors privately and meanwhile worked as a practicing media professional, busy in composing, editing, news reporting, audio video editing, graphics designing, page make up, FM broadcasting and so many things like that.
Then I got admission at University of Sargodha and was awarded with the masters degree in mass communication and media studies with the silver medal. It really was a boost and motivation thing for me. I immediately got admission at AIOU Islamabad and finally cleared M.Phil in Mass Communication in 2012. Now I’m a Ph.D. Scholar in Media Studies at IUB. Meanwhile I kept my focus on radio and television broadcast, specifically on its technical and managing ends on different channels.
The News Tribe: Why radio?
Asad Munir: Well, as I have perceived, there are only two types of media which really make you a true professional and give you a complete training. I’m a restless type person, having a very curious nature always eager and passionate to learn new techniques and skills. Skills make us vital for organizations and radio and newspaper are the best venues for this purpose. The best thing about these media is that they primarily focus on concise and concrete language and its usage.
The News Tribe: You are behind the scenes person. What do you do that listeners don’t see and hear?
Asad Munir: Listeners assume RJ or DJ is the only person entertaining and mesmerizing them with on the spot, immediate and intellectual chit chat. The listeners don’t know that I, being a producer, am responsible for every word the RJ utters and I thoroughly check out the scripts of RJs, select the songs and make q-sheets myself. During the program, I continuously keep murmuring into the ears of RJs through earphones guiding them what to speak and what not, where to mold a controversial issue, where to take a break, what is next in the q-sheet, which word is pronounced wrongly, which information is delivered wrongly, who called for feedback, when to take a commercial break, who texted, who gave feedback on Facebook and what not. Moreover I have to keep the record updated for each and every program, hosts, guests, q-sheets, news, circulars and notifications. Also have to manage the routine correspondence within and outside the university. Similarly have to create copy for commercials, have to make schedule for programs, create new programs, new segments, cover outdoor events and much more. Listeners never know how we continuously train new RJs and keep motivating and fetching the information in their programs.
The News Tribe: Please tell us when your interest in the field began & how your career unfolded?
Asad Munir: Well, I spent a share of my life in experimenting. I was among the pioneer RJs of FM 102. Although it was just a sudden crush for this medium but when I practically started this, it started inspiring me and now I believe you can bring any social change through radio broadcast. It is, no doubt, the most penetrating and most effective medium. FM 102 was the first station I worked for and then I visited and worked for many other stations, learnt from different people, worked at UOS as an Internee PRO, worked for a news agency, cyber and print journalism, worked on some projects of PTV and finally am serving my skills as a Program Producer at Campus Radio VOV FM 98.2.
The News Tribe: As you know mass media studies is getting fame day by day, in this regard what are the major aspects that new comers have to follow?
Asad Munir: First and the most important thing to keep in mind before choosing mass communication is to make sure if you want to be a media professional after this degree or not. More than 90% of girls and 60% of boys don’t join media after completion of their degree. The reason is that majority is unaware about the scope of this degree at the time of admission. Similarly the majority of teaching faculty consists of those who never ever had worked as media professionals and lack all the technical expertise. Although the subject is getting fame but the consumption of mass communication graduates in comparison. New comers must keep in mind that they are not going on-air the next day after completion of their degrees. They have to face sufferings, hardships, have to stay out-cities, have to meet a very hectic and almost thankless routine. If you don’t have passion for this, don’t join.
The News Tribe: In VOV there is any training program that facilitates the students of UOS?
Asad Munir: VOV is not only providing practical facilities to mass communication students, but is also enhancing the confidence and broadcasting sense of UOS students. Students across disciplines often participate in VOV programs. There are different students oriented sole programs as well, such as Khailtay Khilari, University Forum, Aaj Ki Baat, Chaltay Chaltay etc. etc. Some students are doing internships here as well.
The News Tribe: Can you provide a recommended radio show listening list?
Asad Munir: Lok Rehtal is the most popular program of VOV, broadcasting live since March 28, 2012, daily for 2 hours (6pm to 8pm), broadcasted in Punjabi language, covering Culture to Agriculture, Social to Religious issues, Literature to Life Science and what not. It’s an effort to revive “Jamhoor Di Awaz” of Radio Pakistan and we receive hundreds of calls and letters daily. Chaltay Chaltay is an immaculate drive time program mixed with updated information and general knowledge, broadcasted daily at 4pm. Similarly there is a programming-mix on various topics, such as Deen e Fitrat, Aaina e Adab, Saanjh Sangat, Radio Health Care, Khailtay Khilari, Hum Nisabi Forum, Aaj Ki Baat, Samaaj Sudhaar, Shab Bakhair, Aloom o Fanoon, University Roundup etc. etc.
The News Tribe: Is your writing of spoken word helpful to you in radio?
Asad Munir: Scripting is the essence of broadcasting. No matter how much senior or expert host you are, you can’t manage a complete program without proper scripting.
The News Tribe: In Sargodha, till yet there is no proper medium for training of Media people, is there any training programs held in UOS in forthcoming days?
Asad Munir: Department of Media Studies often offers a training course for professional journalists of Sargodha. VOV also provides a complete training to students and RJs. We are planning to conduct some professional training workshops at national level in near future IA as it’s the vision of our worthy Vice Chancellor Prof. Dr. Muhammad Akram Ch. and Station Director Muhammad Idrees Mirza.
The News Tribe: Tell about the kind of audience you have. When you started radio and now, is there any change in your audience?
Asad Munir: VOV is a community radio as per all the definitions of community broadcast. We are not just a training lab for students, rather we are providing 6 hours of non-stop programming for the community. There are more than 20,000 students of UOS which are our top focused audience. VOV is bridging up the gap between students, teachers, parents and community. We receive hundreds of feedback calls from Sargodha, Chakwal, Mandi Bahauddin, Kallar Kahar, Khushab, Joharabad, Faisalabad, Sheikhupura, Bhalwal, Noorpur Thal, Bhera and surroundings. Listeners from all the age groups, specially the mature listeners prefer VOV. Number of audience is increasing with every passing day.
The News Tribe: What kind of leadership and vision is required in Pakistan radio industry?
Asad Munir: Well, its not a self praise but VOV is truly an ideal community broadcast system in Pakistan. The vision of Prof. Dr. Mohammad Akram Ch. and professional expertise of Muhammad Idrees Mirza is making this radio stand above all other stations across Pakistan. Radio industry needs professionals, the true professionals who are properly trained, educated and well paid. Its not a kind of media for absolutely free flow of communication, rather it’s a very sensitive job and needs the people with strong gate-keeping skills. Those who say people don’t listen to serious radio stations, must pay at least a visit to VOV. One more thing that radio hosts and other professionals are not paid accordingly, specifically in private sector so the professionals switch this job very soon.
The News Tribe: How is the radio FM VOV & different from other radio station in Pakistan?
Asad Munir: Firstly, we keep record of every single second of transmission. We maintain logs and archives. We developed a comprehensive time table and sensor the script properly. We don’t broadcast the commercials of Hakeems and those containing non civic words. We are self dependant for production. Our programs are completely in accordance to the community needs and UOS policy. Then we have state of the art studio, equipment and complete technical facilities. VOV is different for dozens of reasons.
The News Tribe: Do you have any life time achievement award?
Asad Munir: I won Golden Web Award by IAWMD (USA) in 2003-04’s world web ranking.
The News Tribe: How do you manage criticism on your shows?
Asad Munir: Well, very important question. It often happens that we are caught for a 5-seconds mistake and people forget the perfect 6 hours transmission before that. A program producer must have tons of patience to face the music. I learn from critics. Obviously I’m not the perfect one for this job but as I’m on this seat, its my job to make everything perfect. The good thing is that I make new mistakes. It means I don’t repeat a mistake. To err is human. Sometimes we are wrong, sometimes we are not, but still we are criticized. It’s a right of listeners. If we have a right to speak to them for 6 hours daily, they also have a right to speak to us for a few minutes at least. I believe the day we get no criticism, we didn’t fulfill our duty, and we missed or neglected something.
The News Tribe: What are the qualities that Producer can not do without?
Asad Munir: Well, it’s a complicated question. Its hard to mention all the things but I briefly name a few. A producer must be aware of organization’s policy, PEMRA rules, media regulations, program management, resourcing, research, pre and post production techniques, budget planning, time management, the latest information on national international current affairs, editing and IT expertise, training methods, scripting, console work, basic technical equipments and expertise, correspondence. Producers must have a strong grip on languages as well and they must have knowledge of latest broadcasting techniques and trends. Also must have a good understanding of memory of music and archiving. In short, a producer’s duty is to solve every riddle by using all the possible means within due time.
The News Tribe: Do you think that there are certain ethics that the head to follow? Is the content on radio regulated on any way?
Asad Munir: Obviously there should be a proper gate-keeping to make sure nothing controversial goes on air. Organizational policy, govt laws and PEMRA rules must be followed in any case. Freedom of expression never means you are free to say whatever you want, but to say in the most appropriate and acceptable way to resolve the issues rather than creating them.
The News Tribe: At individual level what can Producer do to make radio effective mediums?
Asad Munir: It’s a common trend in Pakistan that the RJs spend two hours asking a single stupid question, naming it entertainment, such as “Who is more fashionable, girls or boys” and they discuss this issue for several hours. What does an individual learn by listening that complete program? Entertainment is very wrongly interpreted due to non professionalism of broadcasters. Well, I have always been concerned about what a common listener has learnt after listening to my radio for ten minutes even. Information itself is an entertainment but it’s an art to deliver it. If we develop this approach, positive social change is not so far.
The News Tribe: Other than the technology aspect what else differentials FM from AM?
Asad Munir: It’s a difference of mood, music and two way flow of communication. AM has mostly been adopting top to bottom, radio to listener approach while FM has given them a choice, a choice in music, a choice in programs, a choice in tempo. “You Say and We Play” phenomenon has given a boost to FM radio. Radio has become an interactive media now.
The News Tribe: The general perception of people now-a-days is that FM is all music & nothing else. What do you how to say about this?
Asad Munir: This perception is actually cultivated by non professional and sole profit oriented radio stations. FM is a very serious medium and is the most penetrating medium and should be used for infotainment. VOV is the first practical effort in this regard.
The News Tribe: What do you like about radio?
Asad Munir: It’s a mind-theater and everyone is seeing their own heroes on mental screens. There’s no limit. Radio feels like a line of life, connecting you with millions of people who are making you feel at home.
The News Tribe: What sorts of programs are there to be going on-air?
Asad Munir: Academic, community based, training, entertaining, literary and constructive programs as mentioned earlier.
The News Tribe: What is the scope of your field in the next 5 years?
Asad Munir: Generally its assumed that television has more job scope. A large number of media students spend years in getting internships at television stations and as trainee reporters. Radio is a complete venue for them. And this medium really needs fresh graduates. If we see statistics, there are almost 35 non-profit campus based radio stations across Pakistan. Similarly there are more than 100 FM radio stations and a big FM Network of Radio Pakistan. This is a complete industry and its rapidly flourishing. It’s my personal prediction that there will be more job potential in radio industry in next 5 years as compared to any other medium.
The News Tribe: What advice do you have for other people wanting to get into radio?
Asad Munir: Keep yourself updated. Listen to radio and listen to radio once again. Learn from seniors and get technical knowledge as well to survive in the technology era.
The News Tribe: You are a natural and wishes you’d study journalism. Would you consider doing radio professionally?
Asad Munir: Once you worked on radio, you’d work again and again. It’s like an addiction and you’d feel you can’t help keeping it up.