JournalismPakistan.com August 08, 2012
LAHORE: It’s ‘just a radio show’ and these days when news channels, blogs and webcasts reign supreme, how can something as outdated as a radio show manage to arouse the ire of a provincial government or the president?
But this is exactly what happened.
The Dada Pota Show, an economic current affairs show broadcast by FM98.6, the first businessmen’s radio of Pakistan, debuted in 2010 with the aim of creating awareness amongst the public and business community about regional business politics and economic development with special attention to the micro and macroeconomics and financial affairs of the country.
Having decided on the thrust of the show, 98.6 then began fishing for the best person possible to host it. They needed somebody who was cynical yet sincere, witty yet sedate, controversial yet straightforward, shrewd, perceptive… and above all somebody who was an expert in economic matters as well as the politics surrounding and defining it.
98.6 honed in on Rizwan Razi, lately of DawnNews and the former CNBC Lahore Bureau Chief.
It was most certainly not Razi’s first choice job but somehow, and only he knows why, he seemed drawn to it and decided to take up the challenge.
“It would be an entirely new experience for me, but an interesting and worthy one…” he explains, looking back at the career altering moment wistfully. “Perhaps it was the opportunity to probably become the first journalist in Pakistan to have working experience in all four media mediums – print, electronic, new media and radio – that hooked me,” he teases with a typical chuckle and twinkle in his eye.
Hooked he was and hooked are those that listen to his captivating show. Agreed, it had an interesting concept to begin with, but Razi has managed to give it that added value few others would have been capable of.
The program is based on the discussions between two characters, Dada (Grandfather) played out by Razi and Pota (Grandson) featuring Waseem. Dada has vast knowledge of the economic history of Pakistan and typically presents solutions and answers to questions from Pota as well as listeners from all over the world. In a voice quivering with age, he expounds on domestic socio-economic issues, bringing to the fore all his experience.
On the other hand, Pota typically represents the younger generation and has an often incomplete or immature view of current affairs and economic issues that Dada patiently corrects or contradicts.
“Originally, the basic idea behind this show was to provide a digest of business news concerning Pakistan or those affecting its economy in regional strategic situations, to those businessmen of Lahore who may not have time to read a bunch of newspapers daily,” says Razi of the show’s evolution.
“But later, through our Facebook and email feedback we found out that housewives and homemakers too tuned in, and that bankers kept track of the overall economic outlook, jewelers followed gold rates, investors made use of stock market position indicators and this came as a pleasant surprise. We decided to expand the ambit of the program to include them.”
He explains it is purely a hardcore business news-based show, cracks jokes, offers advice and sometimes even spouts poetry. He gives tips on what to eat and what not to on specific days etc. Sometime, Dada even confesses to having had a fight with Dadi (Grandmother) but the basic objective of such an exercise is to highlight some social evil or issue.
The show has global listenership. In Finland, the Dada Pota community numbers in the thousands, often downloading the show from the web and sharing it through bluetooth.
The same is the case with listeners in the US where many Pakistani taxi drivers tune in while at work.
The amazing thing is that 98.6 has not spent a single penny on marketing the Dada Pota Show in the conventional sense; all promotion was done through Facebook. Daily hits are said to be in five digits.
“Once I announced I would be available to see and meet my listeners. Just one announcement on radio and there were more than 1000 people at Aiwan-e-Iqbal Hall. I was humbled to know people came to meet me from Bhakkar, Jhang, and even Sukkur .
But it has not been all smooth sailing for Dada.
“The program was twice stopped by PEMRA, both times for unguarded comments on you know who,” says Razi, tongue-in-cheek, “and both times, more than a dozen lawyers vowed to contest my case free of cost.”
On the lighter side Razi has been invited to inaugurate Dada Pota an optical mart, a Dada Pota hotel, Dada Pota restaurants, Dada Pota Biryani House etc.
Recently, Razi says with a mischievous smile playing at the corner of his lips, Express and Dunya TV offered to bring his show to TV, but he had to refuse as his wife did not want him to be a ‘dada’ on TV as he would look much too old and by proxy his wife would become a Dadi.
“So it’s teaching, doing the show and enjoying life with my kids, wife, friends and family,” concludes Razi, “Just how long the show will run… I don’t know. I have ruffled some important feathers, including those of the provincial government, and it’s anybody’s guess just how long Dada will do what he has to do.”
A senior journalist, a friend of Razi’s, agrees: “Razi’s witticism sometimes gets the better of him. Sometimes it’s out before he even knows it and even then he continues to ignore the red flags. But as Dada, I don’t think anybody is going to be able to stop him... not PEMRA, not any provincial government, not even….you know who. Dada has become an institution.”
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