Before a fan created one as a tribute to his wise-cracks laden radio show, RJ Balaji had no idea what an app was.
“I don’t even have a computer at home,” confesses South India’s most popular radio jockey. “I access Facebook and Twitter through my phone,” he explains. By using the app in question, people can listen to content that he puts up along with the best jokes from his shows “Take it Easy” and “Cross Talk” on 92.7 Big FM.
If one fan making an android app wasn’t surprise enough for the modest wit, another fan recently made an iOS app as well. So how did all the app-dedication to his shows begin?
It all started with a terse Facebook message last year, says Balaji. “I am your fan. I am making an app for you.” The message from Harishanker, an IT professional and diehard fan based in the US, read. Hari had been listening to Balaji’s Sound Cloud audio clips online. And the second app “RJ Balaji Official” for the iPhone and iPad was also developed by a US-based fan. And no, the two app designers do not know each other.
Keerthi, the iPhone app designer who incidentally shifted base to Chennai a month ago, says, “I’ve been a fan ever since the ‘Mr and Ms Agni’ (a cultural competition held at the College of Engineering, Guindy) video came out on YouTube.”
After following Balaji’s hilarious content posted online, he decided to share the laughs wherever he could. “At present you can use the app to ask Balaji questions or respond to his questions on the show directly,” beams Keerthi. And besides providing instant access to the RJ’s Facebook and Twitter updates through the app, Keerthi also hopes to come out with a live show broadcast option within a month.
Balaji’s rise from your average Coimbatore lad to a sought-after RJ on Chennai’s airwaves is a story of luck and comic timing.
“I was getting my hair cut at a saloon when I heard about auditions for new RJs at a radio station there,” he says. And Balaji, who was in college back then, says he almost didn’t get selected at the time. “I kept trying to impress the producers by showing off my English for a Tamil show.” Of course, once the selection panel got a taste of his spontaneous humour, they were hooked.
“I have inherited my sense of humour from my mother,” says Balaji. “She’s the funniest person I know. If you think I’m funny, you should meet her. I have only 10 per cent of her comic ability,” he laughs.
The apps have over a thousand users, spread across the United States, Singapore and India. Definitely something to be proud of you would think, but Balaji wears his fame lightly. He candidly acknowledges that his jokes work only with an audience of Tamil-speaking Indians listeners. And he is not the self-obsessed type who would keep a minute-by-minute track of growing legions of followers.
“You need to spend your time with the people, not with gadgets,” he points out.
So what has been his family’s reaction to his global app-reciation? “I installed the app on my wife’s phone but when she ran out of space, she deleted it,” he says with a serious face before laughing out loud.
Well, who needs an app when you live with the real person.