As India opened its shores to the world of high fidelity sound in the 1990s, little did we know that the FM boom would progressively envelope the country. FM infused life into a staid radio broadcast, bringing in a lot of creativity and energy. The voice medium suddenly became fashionable, thereby opening an avenue for those who love to entertain others. Thus, radio jockeys came into being.
Being a successful RJ means being perceptive to the needs of your audience. “You should love and appreciate music. It is a job that calls for common sense, an ability to engage and listen, and you should be true to your character,” explains RJ Geoffrey Thomas, chief programming officer at Chennai Live FM. Geoffrey, was fascinated by radio and becoming a RJ was a natural choice for him. Twenty years later, he’s as passionate about it as on day one.
“You should love the field. Since a lot of hard work and dedication goes into it, you have to enjoy what you do,” opines RJ Sam of Oye FM, a Kolkata station. Sam’s career as a RJ kicked off six years ago when he joined All India Radio and anchored an English western music show. He moved into Oye FM in September and since then there has been no looking back for Sam who also composes music.
Becoming a RJ may not be everyone’s cup of tea. As is it live — no retakes — possessing a strong presence of mind and being dynamic are vital requisites. For RJ Ophelia of Big FM, it can be achieved through preparation, confidence and experience. “Practice makes it perfect. There are times when I come to studio at nights and try doing live shows to get used to it. Preparation plays a vital role. Radio is at its best when live. The moment it says ‘ON-AIR,’ a RJ should know how to behave what to say and what not say,” chimes in Ophelia's colleague RJ Akila.
There was a time when RJs were a rarity. However, with the mushrooming of radio stations and the burgeoning industry, it can be rightly said that this field has become a competitive one and a fruitful one for that matter. Now, a budding RJ can earn around Rs 2 lakh per annum and a seasoned RJ would make Rs 2 lakh a month.
Those with talent and creativity leave a mark and become celebrities. Reaching that level needs a lot of hard work. For instance, morning shows are the crowd pullers but it’s not easy to compile one. As Akila says, “Even for a 7 am show, you need to wake up at 5am and the worst part is you have to sleep early. RJing is not a 9 to 5 job. But, when you love your listeners, the biological clock will automatically wake you up. There are instances when we reach a boiling point due to hectic schedules with events and ground shows.”
There are no crash courses on RJing but it helps to get a degree in mass communication or visual communication. Sam belongs to the school that believes “no course or institution can mould you to become a RJ. Talent is inborn.” However, Niladri, a veteran in this industry holds training workshops for aspiring RJs in the city. “I started these workshops in 2000 because I felt the need to tap talent, regionalise it and present it in a language which people over here can understand. My job was to identify and bring the talent out,” he says.
For someone who became a RJ purely for the love of the medium, imparting his knowledge and skills to those who have the passion, came naturally to Niladri. “When we started, Chennai was a dead city and I used to earn only Rs 750 a month. Now, the first question students ask is how much they will get paid. Money is there in radio, it will automatically flow in. But, you have to love the listeners and connect with them,” stresses Niladri.
With the glamour quotient rising and prospects swelling, this profession has become one of the most sought after by youngsters today. With many more radio stations opening up, this industry will serve as a dynamic platform for those who can intuitively connect with others through their words and choice of music