Been staring at Smile Doctor Smitha on the hoardings all over the city? Meet the chirpy RJ who helps Bangaloreans battle traffic with her banter
The big billboards with her face emblazoned all over the Bangalore skyline (if one may call it that) heralded her arrival on the airwaves. Dressed in a lab coat and stethoscope RJ Smitha in her promotional campaign definitely looked prepared for her role as “Smile Doctor Smitha” on Radio Mirchi. She is a dynamic ball of joy, this girl. Her chirpy voice carries the pep and vivacity that helps Bangalore battle the traffic blues and her epithet, although a new addition to her act is not unfamiliar with her personality.
“Sometimes I think it's a good thing I did not study too much,” says this commerce graduate who was working with an insurance company before AIR changed the course of her life. “It was not a conscious decision, I was fed up with my job and the idea to become an RJ was suggested by a friend,” she said. One written test and voice test later the AIR job belonged to her; Smitha had found her calling and was on her way to building her career doing something she loved. Although it was her first time on air and only a part-time stint, where she showed up once a week and did her show, it came to her very naturally and she enjoyed herself. “When AIR happened, it was not about the money.”
All India Radio allowed her to provide entertainment in a style tailor-made by her. “Over there it is completely about the RJ, the songs and content is decided by the RJ, and they never say what you should do and shouldn't do,” she explains.
Doing what she does best
After a year and a half of AIR she moved to a commercial radio station where she was initiated into a more technical form of entertaining the masses, suddenly there was software and content editors that decided what should be said and played. But none of it mattered, because she was in a job she loved, doing what she did best — talk.
Born and brought up in Bangalore, when life took her to America it was a big step for this Bangalore hudugi, but she continued her courtship with radio overseas where she worked at a local community radio station in Dallas. The station was owned by Indians and she hosted a show that played Hindi music. “While the entertainment quotient is the same, the way radio is consumed is very different abroad. In the west they still turn to the radio for a lot of their news and entertainment,” she says comparing her experience in America to that in India. While on home turf, Smitha has a massive fan following, she has managed to create a space for herself in the international market as well. She had a lot of Americans tuning into her show, “They loved Bollywood music and although they did not understand much, they enjoyed the beats,” she says.
Smitha has not had any crazy stalker situations, although there have been countless incidents where the adulation of fans have flattered her. When she was working in America, an Indian who recognised her voice from AIR called and asked her if she was the same person. Now after the huge promotional campaign Radio Mirchi has done for her new avatar “Smile Doctor Smitha” her fans recognise her from the ad campaigns.
An extrovert by nature, Smitha's affair with radio goes a long way back, she used to emulate RJ Sunaina of Radio City fame when they first launched in the city and she loves being the “Smile Doctor”. “Laughter, smiling and humour is highly underrated, and nobody believes in it,” says the RJ who takes her responsibility of making people smile very seriously. She strongly believes in smiling and this carries into her personality. “I enjoy being the smile doctor, although the listeners were a little confused initially. Now people refer to me as doctor,” she says.
On air Smitha is the same person as she is off air. She lets her personality reflect through her show, “I love animals and I tend to talk about that a lot when I'm on air,” says the smile doctor. Her ability to take a story, look at it differently and poke fun at it is her USP and it could be anything from the latest iPhone to a statement Obama made. So if you want to smile, call the doctor just now and get your prescription for free.