Humayun Qaisar: Kashmir’s celebrated broadcaster, who connected youth with Radio
Post by on Sunday, November 28, 2021
Sayed Humayun Qaisar, former Director of Radio Kashmir Srinagar became the household name in Kashmir for his broadcasting skills and is considered a man behind the introduction of innovative programs in the Valley.
He was associated with radio for more than three decades and gained popularity mostly among the youth through youth-centric programs. Qaisar has produced over ten thousand programs to his name.
The veteran broadcaster was trained at DuestcheWelle Radio Training Centre, in Germany. He also attended over a dozen workshops on media & broadcasting across the world.
Talking to Rising Kashmir, Qaisar said when he started his journey from Tyndale Biscoe School, Amar Singh College, University of Kashmir, and then Delhi School of Economics. It was followed by a Diploma in Public Relations.
After completing his education, for some time, Qaisar worked as Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Soil Conservation Srinagar on a project of national importance.
From there, he again shifted to Economic Development Associates (EDA) New Delhi (MLC) and worked as a social scientist, which was looking after overseas projects of multiple international agencies.
“At that very time, when I was working at EDA, I saw an advertisement of 235 posts of Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) in one of the leading newspapers regarding recruitment in Radio and Doordarshan. I too applied, appeared in examination, faced the interview and then qualified it,” he said.
Recalling his memories, the veteran broadcaster says his father told him that he had three months to decide whether he wanted to return to Kashmir or continue with the existing job.
“I made a decision to return back and joined Radio Kashmir in the year 1991 as Program Executive (Gazetted Cadre Post),” he said.
Qaisar who is known for the introduction of an innovative program in radio in the Valley says, each day he would listen to the radio station across the World.
“Even during my previous job as a consultant, I used to listen to the radio whenever I travelled to other parts of the world. I used to carry a radio with me because I was a listener of BBC English and would never miss commentary of test matches special, Sunday special programs,” he said.
He said when he came to Radio; he did not have the baggage of tradition on him. “I started doing things from the basics as nobody was coming to the radio those days. Radio was traditional but a successful venture.”
“I went to college hostels to connect with the students, people and highlighted their concerns through the medium of radio. In 6 months, hundreds started visiting Radio and even we were not able to get time for eating food.
He said, Yuwawani was popular for songs but not for people’s content. He was the man who started new broadcasting trends in Kashmir.
Qaisar said that by involving youth in the programs, we offered them a good platform to nourish their skills in every genre in broadcasting.
“I also felt the need to connect to the youth who were not coming to Radio. That is where I started organizing mentoring and counseling sessions with the youth,” he said.
“During that time, I am extremely grateful to my superiors, particularly my first director Nazki Sahab, Kabir Sahab, Riyaz Sahab, and others. They all accepted whatever innovations I offered and trends were also appreciated by the people,” he said.
The veteran broadcaster said during the 1990’s most of the staff had migrated to Jammu and each one of us was doing more than 50 programs in a month. He also did the first phone-in program in 1996, which also became popular among the people of Valley.
“We had a great legacy of outstanding broadcasters and there is no doubt in that but at the same time we had a legacy of being very dismissive to youth also. I have seen it myself and when they would visit Radio they were discouraged,” he said.
Later Qaisar changed it and handled the Yuwawani section. “Many people say that I brought informality during radio programs,” he said.
Qaisar is popular among the youth of Kashmir. One of his best programs, which he used to host on Radio every Sunday, was ‘Dhadkan’ which he started in 2002.
“The idea behind the success of Dhadkan was to connect with the youth. It was KBC that sparked the idea into my mind and I thought we must have the same on Radio too. When I started and it was February 2002, there were multiple rounds in the game and each Sunday a winner,” he said.
Qaisar said the response was very positive and between the live game show, multiple segments including counseling sessions, songs, guests, and one question contest to engage the youth were held.
“We started from SMS, then emails and with each passing day, its participation increased. I never thought it may become so popular that Dhadkan will become a movement. Then there will be Dhadkan clubs and questions asked in-game shows will be shared in prayer assemblies in schools and colleges,” he said.
“Unfortunately, once I left the radio in 2018, the live game show Dhadkan could not sustain and was closed by the management after 17 years,” Qaisar said.
Regarding FM2, Qaisar said it came into being in 2012 and RuksanaJabeen was the director of Radio Kashmir and she wanted somebody to start it and not many were interested in it.
“She asked me, Will I do it? I told her what has already been drafted for the FM2. If I have to do this, I will not do it. I will do something from my side and she told me that you have the liberty to draft it as per your own style,” he said.
“The first thing that I did is I gave up on announcers, there were no announcers and there was no interlink. The main focus was youth and content were mainly information and entertainment and it clicked in a big way and it was a huge success in Kashmir.”
He is also a Media trainer and Consultant with BBC World Service Trust, Ford Foundation and Panos South Asia. Qaisar is visiting faculty at several Universities across India including Academic Staff Colleges.
Apart from the radio, Qaisar is a former first-class cricketer (Ranji Player). He has also played cricket for J&K Under19 and Under 22 teams apart from captaining University of Kashmir Team.
“The interest towards cricket was from the family. My elder brother Sayed Parvez was playing cricket and I too started playing and represented my school in 9th class at the age of 15 and played for J&K schools in under19 team,” he said.
Qaisar said there is an interesting story, before joining Amar Singh College Srinagar. “I was about to go to college but 11th and 12th was started in Schools, but I did not want to go school anymore because I wanted to play cricket at a higher level,” he said.
The veteran broadcaster said he chose subjects including Geology and Geography which were not available in schools. The subjects were only available in Amar Singh College and played for the college and then represented the University of Kashmir for six years.
During the 1990s, he gave up cricket and focused on Radio. He has also won the state award for painting collections displayed by the state academy for the last four decades. He has been conferred over 50 awards for Broadcasting, painting, counseling, and in the field of Sports.
Qaisar is also an approved sports commentator and analyst. He has done scores of ‘live’ match commentaries on different sports and other events. He has also covered major sports events including Olympics for the All-India Radio in England, Asian Games, World Military Games, CommonWealth Games (CWG).
He has mentored hundreds of youths who went on to attain success in various fields including Civil Services, Education, Sports, and Media.
About his message to youth, Qaisar said they should focus on three Ts: talent, technique and temperament. They should be positive about things even if their surroundings may be negative. There may be things you will find hopeless and if you can't change them but you can improve your own self, he said.
“Keep your antennas open and learn to develop an opinion about things and don’t accept everybody’s opinion. Start asking questions and learn from everything,” he said.
From UPSC aspirants to cricket stars, Qaisar has been inspiring the Valley youth. He has started conducting counseling, sports webinars for students and professors, teachers alike.
The veteran broadcaster is still connected to his audience through his YouTube channel SHQRadioActive.