RADIO JOCKEYING is an art which goes beyond simply flaunting the gift of the gab. S.S. KAVITHA spends some time with a team of RJs and discovers much more
Remember Vidya Balan in Bollywood film “Lage Raho Munna Bhai”? Her voice fresh as dew and sweet as honey woke up all characters (in the film) and had them hooked on to the radio set the moment she opened her programme with a reverberating “Good Morning…..Mumbai!”
Well, in our own Temple City too, we are getting used to waking up to the voices of Radio Jockeys. They mesmerize us with the magic of their vocal cords. Less seen but more heard, these RJs – as they are popularly referred to as – are gradually climbing up the popularity ladder and enjoying a mini-celebrity status.
“It is true. People do not think of us as intruders. Rather, they come closer to us and share their personal issues too,” says ‘Siripazhagi’ N. Maya, who hosts the “Birthday Wish programme” on Suryan FM.
“People, especially youths, sometimes ask suggestions for their life or even start crying while sharing their problems. If you thought “RJing” was only about jabbering, making funny sounds and using more and more humorous words, then look and hear deep because it is much more than that,” she says.
After completing a course in electronic media and communication, Maya alias Priya, got a jockeying opportunity when she registered on a website. When the offer landed on her lap, she simply did not want to let it go. “FM was happening widely and I just wanted and loved to be a part of this. I enjoy my popularity now,” she says without blinking.
Concurs Radio Mirchi’s ‘Madurai Mappu’ M.Andrews: “A good radio jockey job is not only to entertain listeners but also spice up the conversation with some information, little useful things and tips that people miss in this world of hurried syndrome.”
He says his “talkative nature” drove him to this profession. He initially worked as a VJ in a local television channel and in Vijay TV’s popular “Kalakapovathu Yaru” programme. Now he has pitched his tent strongly in the field of radio jockeying.
“My father used to give me money for shutting my mouth for a while. Now this profession allows me to speak, which I always enjoy doing, and it pays me too!” he smiles.
“As per the Government guidelines, FMs are here only to entertain. So to make it useful and entertaining, the FMs often allow the RJs to speak, inform, jibber and entertain," says J. Radha Manalan, programme head and RJ.
“The greatest strength of radio is that it is a one-to-one conversation without disturbing the course of work. The listener assumes that the RJ is speaking or wishing only him or her. Television cannot create such a feeling or impact,” he says.
“RJs voices are so intimate that the listeners allow them to go with them anywhere inside the house, be it kitchen or bathroom. This one-to-one relationship makes the profession more unique,” points out Mr. Andrews.
“Radio is a mike in the ear,” opines ‘Pesum Nila’ Jeyaram of Hello FM. “RJs just need to make the programme more creative. Experience surely helps,” he quips.
A postgraduate in Chemistry, Jeyaram was always in search of an opportunity where he could talk and only talk. After a brief stint in All India Radio and Doordarshan, he switched over to Hello FM in Madurai. He remembers how his father scolded him black and blue when he failed to attend the mains of the UPSC examination though he went to Chennai for the purpose. Like our filmi heroes, who often chase heroines, caring little for interviews or examinations, Mr. Jeyaram to headed straight for Doordarshan with the hope of compeering.
“Because of my passion for speaking, I am now what I am,” he asserts.
He says that his life-time achievement is the 48-minute interview with the former President A.P.J.Abdul Kalam and the comment from the visually impaired students of ROHTALK Library that they never rewind the cassette-books he read for them.
Not just jibbering
The story of S.Karl Marx is different. He disowned marine engineering to be a part of talking and jibbering team of Radio Mirchi. Popularly known as ‘Maduraiyil Piranthu valarantha paiyya’, he says that his perseverance coupled with fun-loving attitude besides being an extrovert landed him in the youthful bubbling RJing field.
“No need to say what you have heard or seen. But tell the listeners in a story module and never pass judgment or analyse boringly. RJ must be able to research his own script and break it into interesting modules and present them attractively with a right proportion of humour and interest so that listeners do not miss the content but can enjoy the humour, which is the lifeline of FMs,” explains Mr. Jeyaram.
“Mood mapping is an important factor. We speak in a voice that suits the listener’s mood. We speak for the mood of the people. Whether RJs have bad or sad encounters they still need to be happy and happy only and they have to go on with their banter with tickling jokes and non-stop chattering,” says ‘Priyasakhi’ Sakthi Devi, who was flippant with her jobs as travel co-ordinator and retina coordinator.
Do RJs rehearse? “Certainly not” is the loud unanimous reply. “We go on in air. Our strength lies in being colloquial and true to the self. To be natural is the requirement but we maintain a mouth filter that sips out unwanted and controversial words. These filters differ in every FM channel,” says I. Stephen of Suryan FM.
An M.Phil student, Mr. Stephen is into RJing purely out of intense interest and capability to think and talk out of the box besides being true to the self. “RJs are not suppose to cough, belch, sneeze but if it happens RJs should manage the situation,” he says and narrates how he candidly accepted it all because of a sumptuous lunch when he belched out on air once.
As voice masters, do RJs take extra care to maintain the voices? Pat comes the reply : “Not really in the strictest sense. But we do occasionally take some measures.”
Do RJs need some compulsory academic qualification and training? Apparently, no. Though most RJs have been achievers in their education, there are many other more successful RJs, who have not completed SSLC. As far as training goes, all FM stations organise training for the selected candidates. But finally it all depends on how the individual delivers, their originality, the punch in the content, the style and how well connected they are with the listeners with their good communication powers and language skills, says M. Priya of Radio Mirchi.
Any special reasons why FMs prefer local youths? "Ya, RJs should be culturally active and they should be at ease with the local slang and aware of the city’s happenings besides knowing the nook and corner of the city," say Mr. Subramanikandan and Mr. Radha Manalan.
These faceless entities begin their day very early and update their knowledge by browsing newspapers, television channels and internet in order to absorb the crux of the matter and pin them between the popular numbers they play.
No doubt, the competition is tough and it takes more than a good voice to woo the audience. One may wonder whether RJs are born or made.
If one is capable of manipulating the situation and managing with innovative ideas, oodles of wit and an energetic voice, one can become a successful RJ earning a hefty package.