TRENDS The RJ is here to rule your heart and everyday life, writes SANJEEVINI SINGH

A radio jockey is one professional who needs to be on top of his or her game all the time. A good voice, coupled with spontaneity and a great sense of humour are crucial. The evolution of the radio has brought changes in radio announcers and jockeys.

Back in the day, the name associated with Indian radio was the evergreen Ameen Sayani. His tryst with radio began in 1950 and we are still counting. Even though style, expression, delivery, and content have changed drastically in the last decade, this man still holds a place in the hearts and ears of many.

G.K. Pillai, a resident of Whitefield, says, “I have been listening to Ameen Sayani for many years. He is probably one of the reasons why I still listen to the radio. The radio hosts these days lack that professionalism. They were considered to be a bank of knowledge in our time to be treated with respect. But now, the youngsters have made it too casual. I am too old for what they say and they just don't seem to have that charm!”

Simon Laishram, a student of media studies, seems to be in agreement. “In Vividh Bharati for instance, all the host/RJs are called Sir/Madam. It's because most people who are audience of that channel are still old school. But the urban RJs nowadays seem to assume the position of celebrities.”

But as radio evolved, listeners too seem to have changed. They too want radio jockeys with whom they can connect one to one. The names on everyone's lips today are M.J. Prithvi with his morning craziness, Saggy with his enthusiasm for rock, and the witty Darius Sunawala. The relatively new yet upcoming names are Sriram who is popular among women, and Punitha Acharya, a bubbly cool breeze in the hot afternoon. An exceptionally popular name among teenagers is Melodee Austin with her infectious husky laugh. Sahitya Maiya, a media student, says, “I can't live without the radio, especially without RJ Melodee Austin! I make it a point to listen to her every day, in between work.” It is not only students, but also working professionals who tune in. “I like M.J. Prithvi the best; he is funny and very cute on air.

I try to catch his show whenever I can,” says Vanaja Pillai, a corporate communications professional.

A large fan base is a huge achievement and no one knows this better than Darius Sunawala. He has worked 12 years in this field and has a few stalkers too! “I love the attention!” he says. “Surprisingly, it is from a lot of men and middle-aged women. I feel so blessed and humbled. It truly is an amazing feeling.”

RJs are the friends who stay with you from morning till evening, making you smile through every journey you take. Sriram says, “I'm the guy who talks to you about last night's cricket match or the potholes on Bannerghatta Road. You are busy driving on the bustling streets of Bangalore or you've somehow made it to work or you're at home listening to the radio. I keep you company, cheering you on with all the things you do before calling it a day.”

Melodee claims, “It is your personality that matters and how you bring it to the audience.” Radio jockeys may appear to have a short shelf life, but Saggy feels, “If you've truly got what it takes, you'll be able to adapt to all the changes happening around you.” Darius adds, “As long as you are willing to reinvent yourself, you are here to stay.”

Radio might have changed, but it is a change that is most welcome.

Many of today's young voices seem to have stumbled into jockeying by chance, but they don't seem to have regrets.

They have found their true calling. They paint with their own sense of art that spreads joy to everyone who's listening.

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