In the beginning, there was 90.4 Oman FM. I remember driving around in my rented Mitsubishi Lancer and invariably getting completely lost every time I tried to find something and had the lovely people on Oman FM to help me through my latest quest to find.... Lulu's.
It was nearly Ramadhan, and the radio presenter, some Australian/Indian sounding lady was running a quiz of nursery rhymes on air. I seem to recall she was in Salalah for the Khareef. People were calling in to try and finish the nursery rhyme to win a prize. And rather amusingly, if they didn't complete it properly, this woman would berate them, sometimes even calling these people stupid, and then never actually tell us the answer! I thought it was hilarious, in a cruel twisted way, but honestly, I would just be driving around, totally lost with absolutely no idea where I was, but would be laughing at the absolute ruthlessness of this radio lady. My most favourite moments would be when she cut people off that were chirping because she said something like, "no, you got it wrong stupid!" and half way through their defence they get cut off. hahahahaha. Evil lady, I loved it!
Faiq in the morning was amusing too, you could hear him turning the newspaper as he read it out on air, along with the nearly daily playback of Puff the Magic Dragon each morning. One of his regular listeners, Mr Angry, must have had a free meal at the Radisson every week as well :P
Along with the fascinating news jingle (still in use today I think) and the amusing 30 seconds to 5 minutes of random dead-air, I felt thoroughly like I was destined to finally give in and buy an ipod. Now I should mention here that I'm totally anti-apple. Why? I'm not really sure, I just don't like them. And that's really all the excuse I need not to like a product really.
And then one day I heard that there was a new radio station coming to Muscat. I hit auto-search and it landed on 95.9, and, in full stereo was Avril Lavigne's Girlfriend. It was October 2007, and there was a new Phantom DJ on the radio waves. They played modern music, it sounded clear and in stereo, and there was no classical music on it! Score!
Enter Hi FM. It was the end of January, 2008 when they finally launched, under much fanfare here in Muscat. I think purely because they broadcasted their signal properly (and thus in stereo as opposed to mono) and they had real native English speaking DJ's and played a style of music that was not trying to satisfy everyone in the country, it very quickly built a large audience, leaving poor old Sultanate of Oman radio in their wake. It wasn't all rosy though, Hi FM made mistakes (Rachey Roo) and I certainly had my fun poking Darren Shortt on this very blog at the time. To their credit, Oman FM 90.4 has gotten better - they don't have any dead-air these days, and they even play dance music in the evenings sometimes.
And everyone in the city now had a new, comparably decent, radio station to listen to that played modern music, and lots of it. Quite why Darren insisted on playing Scooter so much I've never really understood. I like to think that someone deleted all of the Scooter tracks from the Hi FM music computer one night, and I'm glad we don't have to hear Scooter any more!
In terms of Star Wars (my theme here...) Hi FM became the Galactic Empire, Sultanate of Oman Radio 90.4 became the Ewoks and were left to play in their tree village with their friends. The Galactic Empire were dominating the radio waves, playing whatever they wanted and living happy in the knowledge that they were on top.
But, the winds of change started to blow once more.
Next up in Radio Wars: A New Hope