Chinmoy Mahto with his collection of radios and transistors at his Kadma home in Jamshedpur on Tuesday. (Bhola Prasad)
Every evening, Chinmoy Mahto, a 56-year-old resident of Kadma in Jamshedpur, goes out for a walk, hoping to run into an old yet new friend.
Mahto, an advocate, who also runs a motor driving school, has a unique passion. He collects old radios and transistors. So far, Mahto has 25 of them of brands well-known, obscure and outdated — Phillips, HMV, Siemens, Kaide, Santosh, Elta, Naiwa, Action and so on.
“Here, look, this one’s a beauty,” Mahto shows a 1956 HMV model gifted to him by a senior citizen last year.
Getting it repaired was no easy matter. “It took me some six months to get this HMV transistor repaired. I knocked on the doors of almost every radio mechanic I knew till I came across one in Sonari. I was over the moon when I could listen to it. It is close to my heart,” Mahto told The Telegraph.
He looks at his acquisitions as rewards of his adventures in the city markets. “I roamed the whole city recently in search of a Santosh transistor. I scouted Sakchi, Telco, Kadma, Sonari, Burmamines and Sidhgora before getting one in Bistupur. I love it,” he said.
What does he get from this hobby?
“It’s an ongoing romance with the radio from when I was a teen,” Mahto, who founded Guide International Radio Listening Club (GIRLC) with four others in 1974, said. He and his friends have also founded the Jamshedpur Radio Shrota Sangh in 2010.
The GIRLC last week organised a seminar at Shaheed Nirmal Mahto Stadium in Uliyan on listening to the radio. Information on foreign stations and their programmes, transistors as well as pictures of radio related memorabilia were displayed.
And now, Mahto wants to start a radio and transistor collectors’ club.
“Radio meant everything for us,” he said. Radio was the window to the world for Mahto’s generation. Television came to Jamshedpur in 1984; Internet made a quiet entry in the late 1990s.
Though radio made a comeback riding on the FM wave — Big FM, Red FM, Dhamal, Mantra, AIR FM Rainbow and so on are popular in Jharkhand — old-timers recall Radio Ceylon with its iconic programme Binaca Geetmala, the first countdown of Hindi film songs that started in 1952. Announcers, newsreaders and cricket commentators, with distinctive voices and delivery styles, had huge fan following.
Mahto still tunes in on his old transistors late at night. “Programmes in Bengali, Hindi, English and Urdu are aired by Germany, Philippines, Japan and West Asia. But one has to catch the frequency,” he said.
He also has an appeal. “If you have an old transistor or radio at home, please give it to me even if it is junk,” Mahto said, giving his cell number, 9234342138.
Do you have any unique hobby?