Syed Humayun Qaisar,
who is a famous in Kashmir valley as a broadcaster, was recently appointed
Director Radio Kashmir Srinagar. He is a man gifted with many talents yet humble. Qaisar in a chat with Rising
Kashmir’s Daanish Bin Nabi says
cricket has helped him evolve as an individual and also speaks about the problems faced
by Radio Kashmir Srinagar. Excerpts:
· I am a sportsman first, then a broadcaster
· Kashmir doesn’t have any cricketing infrastructure
· JKCA is defunct organisation
· Radio has retained its mass appeal
· Youth want us to be partners in their venture of taking off
· Our agenda is to impart knowledge, information and educate people
· Radio Kashmir biggest challenge is the shortage of staff
· You are a man of many hats. What defines you?
It’s very difficult to define oneself. I guess I am human being who cares about his surroundings and the people who are associated with me. I am a sportsman-broadcaster, a sportsman first and then a broadcaster.
· How did the sportsman shift to broadcasting?
When I used to play cricket, it was not a professional sports then as it is today. We played cricket to have fun. Sometimes when you enjoy something, you try to excel at it. I pursued the sport for the love of it and got in the Ranji team too. When I was only 15 years old, I played for the JK state team. I’m a sportsman and this isn’t restricted to cricket only. It’s a thing of the spirit. Being fair, fighting it out, being a team-man, supporting each other – one imbibes all these as a sportsman. From cricket, I have learnt how to live life with these values. Today you score a hundred, the next day you are out for zero. Cricket is a great teacher. It helps one to stay grounded.
· I had heard Imran Khan say about the same things. Is your journey as same as Imran Khan’s?
That may be only partly true. My parents, brothers and sisters have contributed in shaping me and also my school—Biscoe. And yes, my life has also been shaped much by cricket.
· You are now Director Radio Kashmir and still students keep coming to you to learn. What drives you?
Every day is a new day for me. Every day I go to the mic, it’s a new test for me. My listeners keep me going. Somehow they love me, and you don’t want to let them down. The listeners are linked to you somehow. Their love pushes you.
· What do you think of the cricketing infrastructure in Kashmir?
Kashmir doesn’t have any cricketing infrastructure. We have only turf wicket which for most part of the year is dug up. Some other activities keep happening on the pitch and no cricket is played. The JK Cricket Association is defunct. We produced players who excelled through their own passion and hard work not because of the cricket association. In fact, we have produced some good players in spite of the cricket association.
· Why have we failed to build a proper cricket stadium in Kashmir?
About nine years ago, BCCI allotted money for one stadium in Srinagar and the other in Jammu. Since then our association has been trying to find the ground to build the stadium and they have not come up with it yet. BCCI purchases the land. They don’t want land for free. But still no land has been identified and no stadium built.
· What do you think of Farooq Abdullah’s cricketing scam?
I think it is a big scam. There is something wrong definitely. If nothing was done in spite of the money where did the money go? Someone has to know that.
· Are the historic archives of Radio Kashmir safe?
I assure you that everything is safe. Water did not touch them. Luckily, the archives were on the first floor when the floods struck. Only our ground floor was under water.
· In this era of media convergence, how has Radio Kashmir Srinagar adapted to the new trend?
When radio became popular everyone said that print media will vanish. That did not happen. Then cinema came, later television. Both times, people said radio will be killed. That did not happen either. Now we have social media and other forms of media. But radio has held on to its popularity. The only thing is that one has to keep changing, improving and adapting. One must not remain stagnant. International radio was hugely popular at one time. Those days are gone but radio retains its mass appeal in one way or the other.
· How has the retirement of prominent producers and the new software generation impacted Radio Kashmir?
Retirement is the part of the game. In the decades gone by, we had excellent talent. But Tendulkar’s retirement does not mean the end of Indian India. Javed Miandad retired, so did Allan Border and even Bradman. Cricket moves on. Same goes for the Radio Kashmir Srinagar. It will move on. After 90s, radio started changing and we had fresh talent with new ideas. This too is an ongoing process. The software generation also wants the radio to cater to its needs. And I must say that we do cater to them. One of the areas where we are helping is for society’s young people to grow. In Kashmir we are still in the take-off stage and in progress. The youth want us to be partners in their venture of taking off. We partner them through our counseling programs. We also have programs dealing with their problems. Meanwhile, packaging has also changed. Earlier, we used to have programs like a dry run without any music. Today, we have the same program packaged with music. It is also packaged with phone calls and SMSs flowing in real time. All these amendments have helped us in connecting with the new generation.
· How is Radio Kashmir Srinagar dealing with the competition posed by the new FM channels?
Radio has always had competition like television. The private FM channels are devoted solely to entertainment. Our objectives are more wholesome and there is no clash. Our agenda is to impart knowledge, information, to educate people and lastly, to entertain as well. Those who want to listen to substance will listen to us. Radio Kashmir is not background noise. When we go on air, people listen to us. Whenever people want or demand something they come to Radio Kashmir with their grievances not to private FM channels. This means that people find us trustworthy.
· What are the challenges faced by Radio Kashmir?
The biggest challenge is the shortage of staff. We have been facing a human resource crunch for 15-20 years. There was no recruitment by All India Radio for long. The last recruitment took place in 1996 and now finally in 2015. The others challenge is to improve constantly. We cannot depend on a single format of programming. We have to evolve and keep on changing.
· Radio Kashmir Srinagar keeps repeating old Kashmiri songs. Are you lacking in new compositions?
It is not true. We play both pop and remix. We have western music programs too. But our focus is on classical music. Radio Kashmir daily produces programs in eight to nine languages. We cater to diverse sections of society.
· Sheharbeen is a big hit but there are complaints that its content is stale. Many people feel it focuses more on PR building than current affairs.
Sheharbeen is a grievance program. All the requests are relate to grievances. We talk to authorities and try to sort these problems and help people. A grievance program will remain like that. At times we talk directly to politicians too, to address people’s problems. And when we talk at these top levels in the administration, one has to develop PR. There is no doubt about it. Our constant interactions with the ministers build our rapport with them. The question is how do you use that PR? Will you use it for yourself, or negatively, or you use it constructively for radio?