By Sayema Rahman
RJ, Radio Mirchi
Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to be a newsreader. Every evening after school, I’d pick up the newspaper and start reading it like the newsreaders did on AIR.
When I was in the 12th standard, my father bought a music system which came with a microphone. He was very possessive about it and didn’t let me touch it. But when I was alone at home, I’d often pick up the microphone and record a news bulletin or two for myself. Once while playing one such recorded bulletin for my friend, my father came into the room and I rushed to switch the system off. To my astonishment, he turned around and told me, “Haven’t I told you a hundred times you are not supposed to turn off the radio when the news is on?” When I told him that the ‘newsreader’ was really me, he appreciated and encouraged my talent. Soon I approached AIR and told them that I was interested in becoming a newsreader.
However, as per their requirements, I had to be a graduate before I could join! It was a long wait, but I eventually broke into the medium. The next leap of faith was joining Radio Mirchi, soon after the station launched in Delhi in 2004. Being an RJ looks easy, but in reality, it is not. Every show is put under the scanner, you are judged by every song you play (and the ones you don’t!), and there is a constant need for reinvention. For close to nine years I have played classic evergreen melodies on my show Purani Jeans, which is one of the longest running shows on FM radio. Despite work pressures, I love hosting the show every night. The fact that I am able to connect with both young and older generations with my choice of songs gives me a lot of satisfaction.
Evergreen, retro songs have a pull that bridges these generations and despite the ‘cheapening’ of music today, the consumption of these songs continues to grow.
The other kick that we RJs get out of our jobs is the interactivity with listeners. Earlier, it was possible only via phone or SMS. Now, we can connect through Twitter and Facebook too. The medium may have changed, but communication remains the key.
This is what helps build a long relationship with my listeners. In today’s world of fragmented attention spans, RJs are being blamed for “talking too much”. It’s a very valid complaint and as jocks, it is our responsibility to entertain people. Right now there is a lot of ‘noise’ on the radio. What we need is a lot on hygiene in terms of talk.
If a kid is listening to an FM channel, the station owes it to him or her that nothing wrong is taught. Besides that with the audiences becoming more mature, listeners are expecting a radio station to deliver on a musical promise — so expect a lot more music and lesser talk in the coming days. Private FM Radio is close to celebrating a decade of existence in India, by international standards we are still kids and there is a lot more growing that we have to do in the coming years. Here’s to radio power!