Friday, April 20, 2007

Chinese Radio: Loveline

Every time I go back to the US for a business trip, I’m lucky enough to go home and bring some stuff back to me to Shenzhen. Familiar DVDs, old family pictures and past books have made my Shenzhen apartment feel more like home.

One of the things I’ve recently brought over from the US that I thought I needed is my Alarm Clock/ Radio. I’ve had this thing since I was in middle school and I’ve used it on my bed stand ever since. I’ve definitely felt a void not having it here in Shenzhen with me. Currently I only have my cell phone to tell time and to wake me up in the morning. My clock would do a better job of those 2 functions while simultaneously giving me access to the radio airwaves. Yes.

So after I lugged this thing across the ocean, bought an extra power cord and power adaptor for it, I discover it didn't work. The clock would be progressively slow. For every hour of time that went by, the clock only showed 55 minutes went by. I tried a couple of other clocks and the same thing happened. For some reason, the US alarm clock just can tell time in China (I think it’s a current problem…anyone want to help me fix it?). I could only use the radio.

I’ve been to listening to the radio a couple of nights a week before bed. On top of that, i've had other opportunities to tune in while taking taxis (Shenzhen taxi drivers love talk radio) and on the bus, commuting to and from work. Although still limited in my exposure to radio in China, I have found many interesting things on the air waves.

This interest has made me decide to add a new category to my blog, “Chinese Radio”, in which everything will stem from radio content that I hear.

A few nights ago, I was restless and unable to sleep around midnight. Bored and annoyed with myself, I decide to turn on the radio and hopefully doze off with it acting as the background ambient noise. The radio didn't help. Instead, I grew incredibly interested in a show I just happened to stumble upon.

Imagine a women-specific version of Loveline, Chinese style (without the mentioning of drug use and without Adam Carolla’s antics

At the beginning I didn't know what was going on. I couldn't exactly understand all of the technical language that was spoken. But as it wore on, I got into the grove of it and could understand about 90% of what was being said. I just used context to guess at the last 10%. All in all, the hosts seemed to be enjoying themselves and the subject was entertaining. Here are the details:

  • There were 3 different female voices on the air. I’m assuming one was the host and the other two were experts/doctors.
  • The doctors answered questions on a wide range of topics, including sexual health, physical health, and mental health.
  • The doctors spoke in professional language, and from what I could understand, had a decent grasp of female health issues.
  • Questions were asked in many different forms, including direct calls, letters as well as text messages. There seemed to be a lot of text message questions.
  • The hosts all spoke in very good mandarin.

One of the more interesting calls that came on was from a 26 year old. In a nervous, slow and heavy-accented speech, she asked a question regarding having unprotected sex and the likelihood of pregnancy by using the “pull out” before climaxing method.

The experts calmly explained (correctly) that the “pull out” method was not a good way to prevent pregnancy because there would guys sometime ejaculate semen before actually climaxing (or pre-cum). Instead of doing this, she should either use some type of birth control, including male/female condoms and contraceptive pills. They were very comforting and accepting in their explanation and attitude to the caller.

When the inexperienced girl questioned how she could get the medication, the experts gave her a hospital location in proximity to where she was explained the procedure.

Success! The potential for one less Chinese baby!

Listening to this program got me thinking:

  • I’m actually not surprised that a show like this is on the air. While Chinese people, I would say, are sexually repressed, they feel decently comfortable about it when it’s done in professional and medical terms.
  • The text message questions are a good way to receive questions. Text messages are not only cheaper than traditional phone calls, but they negate the nervousness and awkwardness of the first-time caller. Chinese people might be ok with talking about health and sex, but they’re definitely always nervous.
  • This show is a really good idea for Shenzhen.
    • Population: As everyone already knows, Shenzhen is filled with tons of migrant workers, in which a majority of them are female. (My factory’s assembly line of more than 2000 is 95% female.)
    • Education: Most of the migrant workers are from the countryside and have relatively little education. Most have never been to high school. People often get word-of-mouth advice from just as ignorant friends.
    • Hospitals: Public health services are not keeping up with Shenzhen’s growing population. Also, health care costs are rising throughout the country.
    • Income: Migrant workers are paid relatively little and are saving up for their family. If something is wrong with their health, they often ignore it or try the least expensive treatment possible.
    • Combine all of these together and this show should be a great success.
  • The Chinese listener didn't seem that knowledgeable about the most basic bodily stuff…not just sex. Just about everything that was being asked seemed to be from high school biology/anatomy class.
  • One of the questions was about mental health and depression. I wasn't able to get a good read on it due to the technical language… but I do wonder what kind of training and experience the doctors on the show have on that.
  • I wonder if they have this in other cities. It has to be in the 1st tier cities. What about the 2nd and 3rd tier? It’s definitely a good resource.

Let’s only hope that these girls from the countryside have radios in their factory dorms to take advantage of programs like this. Maybe they should go buy a clock radio and see if it tells correct time.


Andreas said...

Why is your alarm clock "slower" in China than in the US?

I would guess that your clock uses the phases of the alternating current to measure the time that has passed.

In the US, electricity usually is provided at 110 V and at a frequency of 60 Hz. In China (as in Europe and many other parts of the world), electricity is provided at 220 V and at a frequency of 50 Hz. While your adaptor changes the voltage of the current, it does not change the frequency.

So since the current coming from the socket in China is "slower" than it is in the US, your alarm clock is running slower than it should.

I would generally suggest as a starting point for further reading, but since I think you won't be able to access it from China, I'll refrain from doing so.

Mike said...

Wow, thanks Andreas!

I think this is definitely the problem. The time is slower by relatively the same ration of 60/50.

Rene Patnode said...

Have you read Oracle Bones by Peter Hessler? There's a discussion in there about a similar radio show in Shenzhen and its host.

Mike said...

its funny that you mention Oracle Bones. My mom just read it and gave it to me the last time I was back in the states. It's sitting on the other stack of stuff ive been meaning to read.

Rene Patnode said...

It's an excellent book, particularly in the way that he relates the development of the Chinese language and the development of the overall culture.