With the worst ever crisis forcing new priorities on people within and outside the system, it is Radio Kashmir Srinagar that is making a difference. It has started a live programme ‘Helpline’ that connects people from all sides within the society and the system. It has emerged a major source of instant information for the society and the bridging the different stakeholders.
Conceived by Public Broadcaster’s Station Director Rukhsana Jabeen and Chief Engineer Deeraj Goyal with producer Himayun Qaisar, the programme has a group of presenters including Talha Jehangir, Shakeel Bakhshi, Javed Sofi, Sakina Rather, Chasfeeda Khan, Mohammad Hussain Zaffar, Ishfaq Lone and Rashid Nizami.
Helpine is live for most of the day till late evenings. It is offering live information from the people who call the programmers directly and most of the new breaks about the deteriorating situation are right now coming from this live broadcast. The game changing programme is a grand success primarily because it has massive reach and direct access of the people.
In the late afternoon on Saturday, Talha was informed by a caller that one of programme listeners in a central Kashmir village died of the cardiac arrest because he could not take the details of the crisis any more.
“Fundamentally, we are people who sing and make people happy,” Talha responded to the bad news. “Personally, I am a satirist, my job is to make you laugh but I can not do it anymore because we are in a crisis and all the bad news is coming from all sides.” He appealed people that listeners who are sensitive to things happening around must switch off the radio for the time being.
On Friday it had to defend its routine of using small music tracks for interruptions with people asking them not to mingle music with the crisis. “We understand it is overwhelming situation everywhere but you must give us some time in between the transmissions to collect and verify the details,” Talha said.
At the same time, however, this massive interactive programme is facing a crucial crisis. For its broadcast, it is using the high power transmitter which is located at Narbal, one of the major flood affected areas in the periphery of the city.
“We are running this transmitter on a diesel generator that consumes 100 liters of diesel an hour,” Talha quoted Radio Kashmir Srinagar engineer saying. “We have been using this transmitter on diesel energy for last 100 hours as a result of which our stocks have exhausted.” Talha appealed the power department to somehow managing a supply link to the transmitter so that this programme stays on air.
“It is a huge coordinating efforts between our engineers and the broadcasters and we have a huge team of our assistants working outside the studio,” Talha told Kashmir Life during an interruption. “We are live for more than 60 hours now and so far we received 2500 mails and countless SMSs.” By an average, Talha said, the programme receives 1000 telephone calls a day and on daily basis we interact with 20 officials.
The live programme has been given such a scope most of the routine programmes have become part of it. “Only routine programmes are broadcast after interrupting the Helpine, rest is part of this,” he said.