A plea for a little more radio silence

27 February 2017

(marketingmagazine.com.my)– By: S. Jayasankaran

NOWADAYS, listening to the radio can shorten your life.

Normally when I am in traffic, I like to listen to music which is why the radio in the car is either tuned in to BFM or Light and Easy. Both are equally dangerous.

The other day, I was listening to the latter station when an alarming noise – a cross between a whale blowing and gale force winds – came forth over which a female voice intoned gravely: “if you hear that, you could be having the first symptoms of fatty liver” at which the background resounded with ominous music not unlike the introductory chords to Jaws.

Now I have known a great many livers but they are mostly from the Long Bar and they would rather be good livers than have them. And no one is called Fatty.

But the gaseous noises that the radio was emitting seemed to indicate that fatty liver could be a problem going forward – it’s unsaid but it implied hepatitis, cancer, necrosis and death, in that order – and that the listener was well advised to rush to the nearest pharmacy and purchase some supplements – Thompson’s something or other – failing which one would begin sounding like a whale before perishing altogether.

If it’s not one thing, it’s another. A husky female voice grimly warns us of the Woe that will inevitably befall the person with high cholesterol. It is a silent killer, she reminds us accusingly. Words like cardiac threat and stroke loom threateningly before us like recurrent nightmares. But fear not, we are reassured, there are herbal supplements that are just waiting to restore us to good health and robust living.

But you had to rush out to your friendly, local Vitacare now without forgetting your credit card!

And then there are the ads that chip away at our self-esteem, already fragile from the pressures of work and advancing age. “Do you have thinning hair?” asks Jeffrey Nicholson sympathetically. Is the Pope Catholic? In a consoling voice not unlike an undertaker’s, he then lists out the horrors – diminished sex appeal, low self esteem, sneering behind your back, etc – until the pathetic, balding listener begins contemplating suicide with the best of them.

But, hear-ye, hear ye, all is not lost. For a small fee, one could get treatment that restored hair growth in individuals too numerous to count. Doctors had even agreed it worked. And the first 10 individuals who sms’ed this particular number would get free treatment. An approving silence follows as balding people all over Malaysia grab for their phones.

And where do they get their copywriters? They all seem to be in the throes of a manic bipolarity.

Example: Phone rings. Guy answers, yawning mightily. Girl asks where he’s at and why he’s yawning. He doesn’t know; acts confused. Angry girl suspects he’s in the wrong bed.

He’s not. He’s in store and atop some super-duper bed so comfortable that a princess would find it up to scratch. And he fell asleep. Girl, laughing like a lunatic, says let’s buy it now.

I ask you, dear reader, does this make any sense to you? Would any store allow a customer to try out their beds, shoes and all, let alone permit them to snooze away at will? And, trust me on this, no one laughs like a banshee over the prospect of bed-buying.

BFM may be no better. Every evening, there is a medical programme where doctors and an extremely cheerful deejay blithely talk of sinister diseases just lurking out there that are guaranteed to win friends and influence people.

Video may have killed the radio star but what will radio do to us?

This article first appeared in The Star


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