Radio Ga-Ga

Making a conversation before millions of listeners is not as easy as it appears so training is a must to become a radio jockey. By Deeya Nayar-Nambiar

Headed home after a day’s work and caught in the usual traffic snarl can drive anyone up the wall. But thanks to radio jockeys on FM, the journey can never be a drag. The friendly voice gives company to the lonely, alerts on traffic jams or the weather, jokes and music to see you safely home. You can also interact with them and feel good about being heard. Their words often act as a quick solution to those in despair.

With the FM radio boom – the government has sold 338 frequencies across 91 cities in the second phase of FM radio licensing – we will soon have a lot many radio channels in our kitty. As a result, the job market for RJs has really opened up. “When you offer 10 channels in a metro and four in smaller towns, the only way to survive will be through channel differentiation. Research shows that 70 per cent of listeners can’t differentiate between one FM channel and another based on content. This definitely will have to change,” says Nisha Narayanan, media consultant for radio and TV at It is the RJ who often makes the difference to a radio station, slowly evolving as a household name and a constant companion from dawn to dusk and through the night.

“Radio jockeying is an art. It often starts as a hobby that is pursued with passion and becomes a profession gradually,” says Darrpan Mehta, former RJ and now managing director and CEO of Sugar Mediaz. It is the voice that stimulates and keeps the listener arrested. Spontaneous, friendly, witty, the RJ ably speaks on anything and everything under the sun. They laugh at their blunder and make you laugh at them too. Their zingy talk and music spice up your life in general. “Making a conversation before millions of listeners is not as easy as it appears. It is the presence of mind and the ability to say things which would capture the interest of people that counts,” says Tarana, RJ at Radio One 92.5 FM.

Radio jockeying may sound a glamorous and easy job, but a no gyan, chalta hai attitude will reach you nowhere. As Tarana puts it, the listener respects you for the opinions you feel strongly about. “People like to hear. It is evident from the way they recognise us by voice. They mail, sms, call and speak to us as if they are our best friends! Though the relationship is very professional, still it is nice to find them very familiar,” she adds.

It is often said that you should have a good voice. It is definitely an asset but primarily the listener should love to listen to you. As the experienced hands in the field observe, for a good RJ it is essential that (s)he has much more than a good, clear modulated voice and diction.

An aspiring RJ should have the right attitude, be well read, should research and script the programme and have the ability to speak on anything and everything besides being smart. You must create magic with presence of mind and a sense of humour. Also, you build a relationship with your audience if you know the art of laughing at yourself for the goof up being aired. Often the programmes are impromptu and a good RJ should know how to keep the show going – making it interesting, perfect, sounding as if conversing and leaving the listener wanting more.

According to the doyen of radio jockeys Ameen Sayani, “The essential qualities to be developed by RJs are clarity of speech and thought, natural informality (chatty) without sounding faked or hammed and building up one’s own distinct personality for if you start aping anyone – or following the general trend – you’ll never succeed.” He lays special emphasis on doing enough homework for each session and knowing your song schedule in advance.  “Make notes, but avoid reading from them and you must always sound as if you are conversing with listeners,” he advises. “Be and sound sincere for if listeners stop believing in you, they’ll never listen to you again,” he warns.

It is equally important for a RJ to be tech savvy and have knowledge of the contemporary language usage. According to Darrpan, “Language is necessary to keep with popular tastes. Some radio stations are going Hindi like Go 92.5 FM that is now called Radio One 92.5 FM.” At such a time an RJ who is well versed in Hindi and English will have an edge over others. In today’s competitive environment, RJs can survive only if they are professionally trained. “A RJ is as much a professional as a doctor or engineer.

Training gives you a more methodical approach to voice acting, dubbing, radio programming and other finer nuances of radio,” says Darrpan. Such training helps your growth prospects. An RJ may have a shelf life, but look at it as being a radio professional that would help you to take up production, anchoring television programmes, becoming voice artists, and move into other fields. “It is certainly good to join a reputed training facility/course that teaches complete radio presentation, including getting to know how to handle hardware,” agrees Sayani.

The industry does not have many training institutes. Primarily, you have to be a graduate. “You may have the talent but do not know how to sell your voice. Training takes care of all these factors. Once trained, the institute helps with placement”, says Tarana. A fresher may earn Rs 10,000 and as you become popular and establish yourself as a brand, you can quote your price. After all, radio anchoring is all about creating a signature style, getting branded and learning to live up to the image. “The success or failure of a channel is very much dependent on it,” says Darrpan.

A Few Names

Encompass Institute of Radio Management (EMDI) offers a one-year diploma in radio management and three month radio jockey certificate course

All India Radio offers a two months course

The Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad (MICA), conducts exams through CAT(IIM).Offers internship with FM Radio channels as part of its one-year graduate programme in broadcasting management

The Xavier’s Institute of Commumnications, Mumbai.

Sugar Mediaz offers a two and a half months Voice Training Workshop for those aspiring to be Radio Jockeys.

Published in July 2006, btw of Chitralekha Group

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