What prompted them to launch the station last year was, in fact, the lockdown.

Man listening to music on phone with earphones. Sun set in the backgroundImage for Representation/Picxy.com/Abir
Features Culture Tuesday, May 25, 2021 - 19:24

About a year before Twitter Spaces was rolled out, a small community came up with the interesting idea of starting its own internet radio station with its base on Twitter. The point was not just to play music on the radio, but to discuss and share ideas, a lot like what Twitter Spaces is today. From lighthearted shows like Isai Puthir (music quiz) to educational ideas from the Tamil Sangam period (the show’s called Themadhura Tamizh Osai) the station has got plenty of traction on the internet. The internet radio station that will soon be celebrating its first anniversary (June 1) is called Nadodi FM and is a radio platform exclusive for Tamil language speakers. In an email interview with one of its founders, who prefers to remain under the umbrella of the FM’s name and not be identified by name, TNM discussed some of their popular shows and their thoughts on internet radio’s future and more. 

Nadodi FM’s core team was at first made up of eight members from different parts of the world, a close-knit group of friends. “Music is universal and has no barrier. Regardless of the language, soothing music can incite so many emotions from excitement to love to calmness. Out of discussions with a small, tight knit group of friends, the concept of Nadodi FM was born,” they say. The name, meaning wanderer in Tamil, was chosen to go with the spirit of music. “We believe this is an apt name since music wanders with no boundaries,” they add.

What prompted them to launch the station last year was, in fact, the lockdown.  The timing was perfect to test a community radio station on Twitter as most people were at home due to the pandemic. "Lots of people in various countries were in lockdown with nothing to do. Radio is a great way to connect with people, internet radio too is a great forum to share messages and reach out to people worldwide,” Nadodi's team tells TNM.

The small team of eight that juggled multiple roles — hosting, coming up with content, promotion, Twitter page handing etc — grew over the course of time. “In the past year, we have grown to 25, which consists of a core team, admin team, promotion team, regular show RJs, Special show RJs and we continue to grow,” they share.

And they cover a wide spectrum of topics on their shows, from Tamil music to daily life stories and interviews. There’s Neyar Viruppam (an audience request show), Isai Puthir that requires the listener to tweet their answer by tagging the station, Oru Naal RJ (RJ for a day) and more. Oru Naal RJ interestingly was inspired from feedback given by a follower. “We receive feedback from listeners every now and then. We discuss this feedback during our weekly team meetings and incorporate them into the future shows. The input is used to enhance the quality of the programmes, which helped us along our journey. One of our listeners wanted to try being an RJ but just for one day alone, considering their personal and professional commitments.That's how we conceptualised the show and like Katrin Mozhi Jyotika, many listeners started getting inspired and this show is a success,” they say.

Since their RJs are from around the world, their audience interaction too comes from Tamil diaspora living across the world. “Some of our shows like Neyar ViruppamVidukathai NeramIsai Puthir, require listener interaction. We get good traction both on radio and Twitter during these shows,” they add.

Shows like Iravaadal have listeners sharing personal stories anonymously while Ulaviravu has listeners sharing their love stories specifically. En Samayal Arayil has listeners sharing food recipes and Nerkanal (interview) is set in formats similar to regular radio programmes. They’ve also got shows like Themadhura Tamizh OsaiKadhaipoma and Gramophone where the discussions are informative and also veer towards nostalgia.

On Themadhura Tamizh Osai, hosted by RJ Anandi, they discuss poems from Tamil Sangam literature. “This show talks about how our ancient literature (Sangam Tamil literature) has grown and continues to be a reference point for all our discussions today, in terms of women's empowerment, social issues, art and war etc. This programme is great for those who were born and raised overseas and are not aware of our rich history,” the Nadodi team explains. On Kadhaipoma, discussions are on random topics, right from movies to the experience of living in a different country and so on.

“During my programme, at least 25 to 30 people discuss the songs on Twitter,” says Chennai-based UX designer Sivaraman Ganesan who hosts the Gramaphone show. “This kind of engagement is why I continue to do it. There are people who have many new facts to share about a song. They have inside knowledge about what happened around the time of its release. All this makes the entire show very interesting. My programme is completely nostalgic,” he adds.

As they step into their second year, the team at Nadodi is confident of continued support and increased engagement. “Most of the time, our shows are run by 'non-professionals' who are more authentic in their presentation as they are not rehearsed or have scripts written beforehand. When listeners find their favourite RJ in non-professionals, it doesn’t matter from where the show is being broadcast,” the team says.

“There are lots of hidden talents on social media. Through Nadodi, we hope to give them a forum to showcase and share their talents which they may not be able to do on mainstream FMs. We think we can co-exist as long as there is interest from the listeners. Stay tuned for many new programmes in our second year," they conclude.