Date posted: 25/09/2018 4 min read

From Mumbai with love

Three CAs from Auckland devote their Saturday afternoons to keeping the Konkani language alive with a show on community radio.

In Brief

  • Three New Zealand-based CAs are the Good Guys – accountants during the week and radio show hosts on Saturdays.
  • Their show, Susegad Danpaar, aims to keep the Konkani language and culture alive among the 3000 Auckland residents who speak it.
  • The show won an award for the most listeners on the Planet FM community radio station in its first year.

By Helen Ozolins

Though they all grew up in Mumbai, it took a move to New Zealand to bring the Good Guys together and give life to Susegad Danpaar, an award-winning program on community radio in Auckland. Baptist Lobo, Hector de Souza and Richard Miranda are the Good Guys. 

Their day job is accounting – they met while training to become chartered accountants – but on Saturdays their focus is an hour-long slot between 3.45pm and 4.45pm on Auckland radio station 104.6 Planet FM. It aims to keep alive the Konkani language and culture for about 3000 Konkani-speaking residents in Auckland, most of whom originate from Mumbai, Goa and Mangalore. 

“There comes a time that you want to step out of your comfort zone and give expression to ... passions and interests,” Lobo says. “We found common ground in preserving our native mother tongue, Konkani, and identified radio as the most cost-effective method of remaining connected with the language, as well as the Konkani diaspora in Auckland.” And so Susegad Danpaar – Konkani for a relaxed, laid-back afternoon – was born.

Tongue-tied on radio

The show features Konkani music, interviews and short plays and promotes community events. “We learnt the language from our parents ... We struggle at times, as we know the language secondhand,” Lobo admits. Sometimes the three need to refer back to local seniors or community elders. Konkani lacks a defined written script – it is a spoken language with different dialects. “Like in any language, if you do not regularly speak the language … you struggle to express [yourself]. So we have had our fair share of tongue-tied moments on radio.”

The program first aired in December 2016 and within a year had received an award for the most listeners on the Planet FM community radio station. Most of the programs have a community member as a guest and the presenters also encourage youngsters to participate in discussions and even anchor the program and design their broadcast.

Beyond Konkani, topics have included talks with representatives of mainstream political parties and pastimes such as trekking, cycling, gardening and fishing. 

The Good Guys

The three take turns to handle the console and lead the program and discussions. Lobo and de Souza look after the funding and community networking, while Miranda is responsible for music and programming. The radio station trained them and maintains their webpage and podcasts, Lobo says. The podcasts are key. Planet FM covers 100 kilometres around Auckland, but online the audience for Susegad Danpaar stretches across the world. The overseas audience can see the program live-streamed. A Facebook page further broadens the reach.

There comes a time that you want to step out of your comfort zone and give expression to ... passions and interests
Baptist Lobo Accountant and radio show host 

What motivates the Good Guys? First, there’s the Konkani language: while it’s not on the UNESCO endangered list, the number of speakers is on the decline. Community ties are also important; they are all active members of their respective church communities and work on other volunteer projects. 

For an accountant, radio work brings an unexpected benefit – an improvement in professional presentation and networking skills. It’s just one more spin-off from an exercise in giving back to the community. 

Helen Ozolins is deputy editor of Acuity.

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