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Radio jockey: Chat your way to fame and fortune

With private radio stations having belatedly arrived in India, a host of new opportunities have opened up for radio jockeys

Hello! (as radio jockeys say perhaps too often) here come new contestants for mind share — private FM radio stations like Radio Mirchi, Win 96.5, Radio Mid-Days Go 92.5 FM, and Radio Citys 91 FM, 107.1 FM Rainbow, 93.5 RED FM etc have all but eclipsed staid old All India Radio. With private radio broadcasting having become a reality, a host of new opportunities have opened up for radio broadcasters. For those looking for offbeat career options, there are many possibilities in this resuscitated medium as its predicted that at least 300 new FM radio stations will be launched within the next few years.

If you have a voice that can tease, cajole, inspire, and perhaps seduce coupled with a chatty disposition and a dash of humour, this might be just the career for you. Prospects are lucrative if you sign up with private FM radio stations and it could bring you fame and help you win friends and influence people. The basic qualification required for a radio jockeys job is a degree from a recognised university, preferably in journalism, a voice and diction suitable for broadcasting, correct pronunciation and accent, and knowledge of the regional language. The radio boom has also led to the mushrooming of radio-related vocational courses across the country. Academy of Broadcasting with branches nationwide, and Centre for Research in Art of Film and Television (CRAFT), Delhi, offers diploma courses in radio jockeying. Signing up for voice vocational training is a good idea as it will help to hone your vocal as well as writing skills which will give you an edge during auditions and interviews. Selection is usually on the basis of a short written test, followed by a voice test and interview. The recruitment process may involve writing of announcements or presentation scripts for special programmes. Starting as an announcer, with experience you can branch out into interviewing and presenting radio programmes.

Entry into All India Radio (AIR) is also a major break for wannabe radio jockeys (RJs). All you need is a flair for non-stop patter. With 160 stations spread across the country, AIR reaches 96.2 percent of the population of India. Moreover, there are special broadcasts for overseas listeners.

RIGHT CHORD. Most radio programmes are live broadcasts, so being well-read on a wide range of subjects helps. It will help you add interesting anecdotes and less-known facts to enrich your script. A flair for writing is the other attribute required to make a mark in this profession. You need to be creative if you want to build captive audiences for your programme and station. Listeners should get the feeling that you are talking only to them. An awareness of latest fashions and fads also helps. A flair for the local language is an added advantage as it helps you strike the right chord with listeners.

The current boom in this revived broadcast medium has opened up scores of opportunities for RJs. AIR hires RJs on a contract basis at a modest Rs.400 for a two-hour programme. You could be doing a minimum of six hours per week — a good way to earn pocket money while in college. Later if you show promise you could be inducted as a permanent employee on a starting salary of Rs.6,000–7,000 per month. On the other hand, the new private FM radio stations pay around Rs.15,000–20,000 per month as start-up packages to their RJs.

For aspiring RJs there are numerous freelance opportunities for voice-overs, jingles, and compering live shows which have become immensely popular. The money is good — anywhere between Rs.5,000–8,000 per live show. There is scope also to represent foreign radio stations like the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and Voice of America for newsgathering within the country, sometimes extending to the South Asian region.

Today opportunities for young RJs are multiplying fast in this hot revived, dynamic, live, and interactive medium. I enjoy doing my programme Horn OK Please in the 4 p.m to 7 p.m slot in Mumbai. Its the only show on Go 92.5 which has two co-hosts. Its chatty, lively, and natural as theres no written script. I also produce this Mumbai-centric show targeted at the youth segment. On the air we talk about new plays, restaurants, and all the ‘happening events in the city. Its all very interactive,” says Meher Acharia, radio jockey and a producer of Go 92.5 FM, which she joined in March 2002, two months before the launch of this FM radio channel.

Twenty-something Acharia, who was active in theatre for 12 years, joined All India Radio in 1998 after acquiring a Masters degree in international relations from Mumbai University. I was doing an evening Mumbai-centric show for AIR on the FM frequency seven days a week for two years before I signed up with Go 92.5 FM. AIR is a good learning ground for those who want to break into this profession,” says Acharia. Quite evidently Acharia enjoys her work. Radio has always been a big part of my life. I grew up listening to Vividh Bharati. Now FM radio is not a fad, its here to stay. Its a particularly satisfying career as theres immediate appreciation from your listeners. Once private FM stations are allowed to broadcast news, my ambition is to work on the newsdesk,” she adds.

Widely appreciated in Mumbai as one of the coolest” RJs, Acharia is confident that as radio bandwidth expands — as is inevitable” — the scope for talent utilisation in this medium will multiply. With more radio stations like Radio Today beginning broadcasts therell be a rising demand for RJs. The popularity of this medium is certain to increase. Itll create its own stars, opinion makers, theme shows, live music concerts, and competitions. Given its neglect these past years, this medium is all set to experience a boom,” says Acharia.
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