The first radio broadcasts in Baluchi

13 Feb


Broadcasts in Baluchi were introduced on 25th December, 1949 by Radio Pakistan with a 45 minute daily programme on a 10 kilowatt short wave transmitter from its Karachi station, which was also established soon after Pakistan gained its independence in 1947.

The programme consisted mainly of a news bulletin, talks, features and folk music. It served as a great boon to the Baluchi language and the development of its literature and music. The Baluchi broadcasts helped generate great interest and enthusiasm amongst the poorly educated but spirited Baluch population of Karachi. They started up new literary societies and held regular meetings and sessions. The broadcasts also prompted the publication of the first regular monthly Baluchi magazine Oman, edited by Maulana Khair Mohammad Nadvi. It was first published in Karachi in 1951. 

The programme proved a great challenge and a novel experience for the broadcasters responsible for the translation of the news bulletins from English. They were obliged to come up with a workable script that could be easily read by them at broadcast time. A group of students from the Karachi colleges formed the pioneer talent recruited to translate and read the news and plan the other programme contents.

Another problem was finding musicians and folk singers. Fortunately, these were available among the Baluchi speaking population of Karachi, mainly immigrants from Iranian Baluchistan, the coastal areas and other parts of the former Kalat state. The quest for musicians, both vocalists and instrumentalists, led to a large number of hitherto unknown artists being discovered and launched. These people, who had never seen a radio station before and had no knowledge of what was expected of them, were auditioned by a committee and booked to perform “live” in the days that followed. These were artists who could sing classical lyrics, verses from folk tales, war ballads and other epic poetry, which had been learnt from the classics and handed down from generation to generation. A large number of singers of ghazals and compositions of modern day poets were also included in the programmes.

Both the broadcast material and the recording facilities were inadequate in those days. Since tape recording had not been introduced, Radio Pakistan had its own disc-cutting machines set up in the studios, where recordings were made for the purpose of building up a library.

As time passed, it also became possible to introduce variety into the programme contents. A vast treasure of folklore in the form of romantic ballads were broadcast as musical items, features and plays. In the field of the spoken word a variety of new formats such as musical features, full length radio plays, short stories and stories for children were regularly broadcast, in addition to talks on cultural and literary topics, tales from Islamic history, skits on topics of interest to women, eg child care and miscellaneous pastimes, were regular items.

The broadcasts in Baluchi from Radio Pakistan in Karachi were suspended when another radio station began broadcasting from Quetta on 17th October 1956.


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Posted by on February 13, 2011 in Balochi Language Profile


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