Down-to-earth RJ Pavitra Shankar says that the challenge of her job is to sound consistent every day.
We reach the Radio One office on Miller’s Road. RJ Pavitra Shankar greets us with a warm smile and takes us to her studio to talk to us. She seems down-to-earth and sounds like the girl next door. Though she does not use the microphone, the smoothness of her voice strikes you — probably, the secret why she appeals to the many listeners.
She has been working with Radio One 94.3 for the last seven years. “The work here is good. The place is flexible. Feels like a family rather than a work place,” says Pavitra.
Though she studied journalism, she says that she never decided to become a radio jockey. In fact, it was her dream to get into the television media. But, she backed out when she thought of the long hours at work. While she was specialising in radio and television, Radio One was also starting out in the city. On an impulse she decided to audition and got selected, thus began her journey.
“Initially it was a bit difficult for me to talk for radio. You can not see people; all you see are the walls. Once you understand the medium, it is easy and everything – your work, your passion – all falls into place,” says Pavitra.
“The challenge is that though you do not see a crowd, you are actually talking to 15 lakh listeners at one go! And you have to connect to each one of them. Make each one feel you are talking to them individually. Most of the listeners are aged between 12 and 40 years. Each one will have a different need, a different mood, a very different interest,” observes the soft-spoken RJ.
She hosts “Drive Time” between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. and also works as an executive producer, music manager, besides being an RJ.
“I have learnt so much about the medium in this place. Today I am confident that I can continue in the radio industry, take care of the campaigns and also schedule the music.”
The best part about her job she says is that she “gets to choose the songs for the entire day and place them at a particular time band. I also have to keep a tab on what is happening on other radio channels. If they play Indie pop then we choose retro. We do a station analysis or go by the top 100 or top 20 and sometimes depend on MTV analysis too. It is only after all this that we choose the most popular songs. I have to watch music channels and we have to keep up with the trends and also be clued in to what the listener likes, to be in the race. It is all a very interesting process.”
Pavitra says that to understand what people want, the team went out on to the streets in the city for their research. “Then we got rid of certain types of songs from our records,” she smiles.
Though she is alone in the studio most of the time, she says that being on air is “a wonderful feeling. I still get butterflies in my stomach before every show. It is a good sign to be nervous or else it means you have become familiar with your job and may not give it your best.”
The other challenge, she says, is to sound consistent every day. “I don’t have a choice but have to sound fab everyday no matter what I feel on the inside. And some days I may feel on top of the world, but have to learn to maintain a balance. That sometimes gets tough. The good thing about being an RJ is that so many people want to talk to you,” says Pavitra.
And, yes, there have been bad days in her professional life too. “If I goof up during a show, what can you do? You have to smile and bear with me,” says the pretty RJ. Then she recalls all the actors she interviewed and feels that the “bigger stars are sweet. The smaller ones are arrogant. Of all the stars I have spoken to, Priyanka Chopra is my favourite. She simply bowled me off my feet. She is down to earth and is a total sweetheart.”
Pavitra laughs saying she is not a very talkative person, but her profession demands her to talk. The RJ says when “people take the time to visit me at the studio to get an autograph or a picture, it is so cute for they want to know if the voice they hear and the personality are the same.”