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A very powerful medium

Sudipto Maity |

Vidya Balan  recently portrayed the role of a radio jockey in  Tumhari Sulu. But who are these people behind the scene? The radio, more popularly known as FM nowadays, has undergone a steady evolution. During the early 90’s radio was a lot more sedate. Life in general was slow-paced which reflected on radio programmes too.

In India, private FM was launched in Delhi in 1993. Phase one auctioning started for separate frequencies in 2001. From the 128 bids, around 21 stations went on air. In the second phase, which took place in 2005-06, 338 frequencies were offered for auction and about 237 were sold. Phase three is witnessing over 800 frequencies being auctioned across the country.

Of changes and retention: The colloquial approach of the FM channels towards its listeners has played an important part in its increased popularity. “It’s a lot more dynamic, definitely more high-tech and easily accessible than what it was,” says Jimmy Tangree, one of the most recognisable voices in the industry. Tangree, the station head of Friends FM, has been a radio jockey for over two decades now.

Weighing in on the topic of what has been the biggest change in radio, RJ Roy of Radio One says that the style of presentation has gone through a sea change.

“Earlier in the 60s and 70s, it was a lot slower compared to today. The language of communication has changed not only in India, but also globally. It’s a lot funkier now.”

However not all has changed according to Tangree. “If one looks back, I feel the warmth and closeness has been retained, but, with a wacky and more engaging attitude,” he says.

What it takes to be a radio jockey: FM may not match the reach of the Internet, nor can it compete with television in terms of audience, but it still is a very powerful medium, accounting for seven to eight per cent of the advertiser’s expenditures around the world. This can be attributed to mainly the radio jockeys who keep us glued to the medium.

In simple terms, a radio jockey is a host who presents a programme on air. However, while the definition of radio jockeys hasn’t changed much, the way one goes about the job has. Now to keep with a faster world and to adapt to change is to stay updated about various things.

“Preparing for my show is a lengthy process,” says Roy, “My show starts at 7 am and goes on till noon. During this time, I try and gather information which I share with my listeners. There are various sources from where one can pick the information. Grab a newspaper, a magazine or just browse the web, but read. It’s very important to keep your ears and eyes open.” Both Tangree and Roy opine that a good RJ must be spontaneous. “It’s still about the voice,” adds Roy.

Listing out other qualities that an ideal radio jockey should possess, Tangree says, “One must have a decent knowledge of music and know the city well. One also needs good computer, interview and organisation skills in terms of research and points to go on air. Most importantly, RJs must be accessible to the listeners and should never have an attitude.”

Thriving as an RJ: Radio Jockeying is never a one-show-wonder business. RJs slog day in and out to make their presence felt and build a brand which is possible only through hard and sincere work. While some acknowledge the changes they had to embrace for their longevity, others believe that it is their love for the job that kept them ticking.

Once in an interview a popular American RJ Howard Stern revealed, “I couldn’t have done the show I’m doing now 20 years ago. I’ve changed a lot. How else do you have longevity?” Stern added, “A number of my contemporaries in radio have disappeared, because they couldn’t broaden their view about what entertainment should be, or get in touch with what they find to be exciting and fun.”

“It is the constant love from fans that keeps me ticking. They have told me that I have a sense of humour which is heartening to hear,” says Roy.

Loving what he does helps Tangree continue what he has been doing for over 24 years now. “I love what I do and totally enjoy it. One needs to have a lot of dedication and I feel success comes from loving what you do,” says the radio veteran.

The reason behind the success of FM is perhaps best described by Guy Gugliotta, a journalist from USA who says, “Perhaps no invention of modern times has delivered so much while initially promising so little.”


(The writer is a correspondent, India Blooms News Service)