Mani Rana, known for his ‘handsome voice’ mesmerized BBC Nepali listeners for years and still wrings their ears long after he has retired.
Rana began his career in journalism in 1968 from Radio Nepal. After three years there, he moved to BBC Nepali service in London as the sole producer and broadcaster for the first nine years. The service grew in size and listeners and so did his profile until his retirement in 2003.
Rana appeared as a guest in Desh Sanchar Chautari, where he delved into his unique professional journey over the course of thirty-five years.
“I still remember the first day reading news in English in Radio Nepal on December 25, 1968”, reveals Rana. He went to BBC in London on a scholarship provided by the British Council to Radio Nepal officials. It was a ten-week course, after which he was offered a job, so his stay lasted a year and half at that time. But he needed to produce Radio Nepal’s approval to continue there.
After long impediments, but with positive intervention from Narayan Prasad Shrestha and Chiran Thapa, both high level officials in the then Royal Palace secretariat, he got the necessary approval.
He shared his experiences and views more candidly- a character that he is known and admired for. Why did you quit such a lucrative job? ‘Having worked for 32 years I said [to myself] okay this is enough and took early retirement,’ he shared.
An avid radio listener, Rana says he cannot refrain from listening to radio daily. He does not seem worried about the future of radio, ‘there are many people globally who listen to radio; I don’t know about newspapers, but radio definitely has a future at least during my lifespan’, Rana said.
Rana shares his displeasure on Nepali media being too loose [Chhada]. Everybody is affiliated with some political party or the other and the result is prevalence of prejudice dictated news making.
He recalled the formula used in BBC – it is not news unless something is ‘not new’, ‘not you’, and ‘not true’. BBC trusted its correspondents, and in case its own correspondents were absent, it had to be verified by two agencies before anything could make news. The lack of such rigor is what dilutes public trust in the media.
He shared an anecdote from his mind archive, ‘late Mr. Krishna Prashad Bhattarai had just lost the election in 2056 BS. I called him for an interview and said, ‘commiserations Mr. Prime Minister’. He misheard it as congratulations and got annoyed, so I had explained what I said’. He called me the next day to ask what was the word I had used and what it meant. I was taken aback by his humbleness as not many people of his stature would have done the same.
He shared openly about his time in London, ‘I was very happy with what I was doing in London. I have no regrets in life thus far. Only regret is that I sold my apartment in London on which I had invested a lot of time and resources to make it to my liking.’
‘I am perfectly happy that I am at the stage where I can gracefully embrace the exit from life’, he concluded jovially – the signature aspect of his personality.