They know the pulse of the people and keep them entertained with news, views, music and jokes. SUDHISH KAMATH catches up with Chennai’s most popular RJs

Ajai, Radio Mirchi

(Was away in Singapore and Malaysia during the cover photo shoot)

RJing since: May 2003

Name of the show: Hello Chennai

Wakes up by: 5.30 a.m.

Morning routine: Getting inspiration from the most-inspiring place in the whole house with the newspaper. The bathroom. And I also pray for about 15-20 minutes. My power comes from there.

Breakfast: Not much. Usually warm water, opens up my throat.

Mood/Style: Why do I have to wake up so early in the morning. I always wake up every morning sulking saying Why? Why? And then, once I get in, my mood changes, the studio is bright red, I get all my energy. I feel like a rockstar.

Likes: A lot of people term morning as radio-time and evening as TV time. It’s a prime time and it shows you are being given a lot of responsibility. It’s a good feeling that you are being entrusted with the responsibility. As much as you pull other people’s legs, make people laugh, you also have a social responsibility that comes with it. People do take you seriously.

Hates: Waking up in the morning. I am a late night person.

Most memorable morning: Our studio has a huge window and one day, I saw a huge pillar of smoke and people called in and we broke the news and filled them with updates. People were emotional, that was unforgettable. It was the Saravana Stores fire. Apart from that, the promos that we do are a huge fun part. You never know what the next second brings when you are an RJ.

Radio Byte: “Ellame Nallathuthaane”

Chinmayi, Aahaa FM

RJing since: February 2007

Name of the show: Aahaa Kaapi Klub

Wakes up by: 4.30 a.m. (even before becoming an RJ)

Morning routine: Go to the temple, practise singing, drive to work

Breakfast: Usually have only brunch — Bread usually

Mood/Style: I am what I am. Except when I am in a bad mood when I can’t afford to show it out.

Likes: I get to speak about social issues and Aahaa has been a very good platform to speak on current affairs and civic issues… Basically, I react to all that I read in the newspapers.

Hates: Don’t hate anything about radio or mornings. It’s the most productive part of my day.

Most memorable morning: Once, a caller had complained that he had to bribe an official for an internet connection and had decided to get it from a private operator. The very next morning, the same caller called to inform me that the official acted on it immediately.

Radio Byte: The station ID and the tag line… I think that’s my most often-said quip. (laughs)

Bhavna Balakrishnan, Chennai Live

RJing since: August 2008

Name of the show: Live Talk

Wakes up by: 5.30 a.m and sometimes, I stretch to 6 a.m. but that’s when I have no time to get ready and jump straight out of bed.

Morning routine: I wake up, crib for five minutes and then, the sixth minute, I look forward to 7 a.m. because that’s when I go on air.

Breakfast: Two answers. One, the one I would like my Mum to hear. I eat Mum’s breakfast in parts during the show. My second answer which is the more honest one: Most days, I survive with a cup of coffee till the show ends and then I dive into the breakfast.

Mood/Style: It’s basically me. I’m fun-loving, very peppy, always energetic and a little sadistic… If I can’t sleep in the morning, you shouldn’t either.

Likes: I have always been a nocturnal person. But from the time I’ve started doing the show, I’ve had time to plan my day better and I have the rest of the day to put to better use.

Hates: You have these off days when you just don’t want to get out of bed. But when the alarm rings, you have to. But if you don’t, who’s going to wake the city up? God, do I sound obnoxious? (laughs)

Most memorable morning: Usually, I am the first one to enter the station. We have to punch in our attendance. It was my birthday, I punched in my attendance and it said Happy Birthday. That was damn sweet because there was nobody in the morning.

Radio Byte: All the lines I use, people tell me I use them often (laughs) “We’ve got four hours of non-stop fun, non-stop music, non-stop masti and non-stop me.”

Kaushi, Hello FM

RJing since: October 2006

Name of the show: Hello Café (started with an evening show Kamarkat because I was studying M.Sc Electronic Media in Anna University)

Wakes up by: 4.30 a.m

Morning routine: Don’t get time for anything, just get ready and rush

Breakfast: Oats or Idli (or I pack sandwiches sometimes) and cups of tea or coffee to keep me going during the show.

Mood/Style: High-energy, enthusiasm (my delivery is really fast), positive thoughts and a lot of ‘mokkai’ combined.

Likes: So many people wake up listening to my voice and I love wishing them Good Morning. Even when I am feeling low, when people wish me good morning, it makes my day.

Hates: You have to think twice before asking for leave and your company thinks ten times before they sanction it.

Most memorable morning: Interviewing Sunita Williams. We sent an email to her Dad, contacted somebody in NASA and I sent them a mail with a lot of smileys, not expecting much and they set up an appointment. It was a dream come true. From then, I believe I can get anybody on the show.

Radio Byte: “Enna Kodumai Sir, Idhu”. I am addicted to that line.

Suchitra Karthik Kumar, (a.k.a Suchi), Radio One:

RJing since: Six years and a month now

Name of the show: Good Morning with Suchi

Wakes up by: Post one hit of the snooze button, 5.10 a.m

Morning routine: Take dog (Kapaleeshwari) for a walk to the beach, 10 minutes of yoga, shower, whip up breakfast for Karthik and me, catch five minutes of news on TV, leave home at 6.15 a.m

Breakfast: Apple-blueberry-protein shake. We’ve been having it for 3 years now. It’s a recipe I saw once on the Oprah Winfrey show. One coffee during the show, then an early lunch.

Mood/Style: Very current, topical, edgy, good humoured, non-judgmental, commonsensical

Likes: The freedom I get from my employers, my boss Navaneeth, listeners

Hates: Myself, when I say something I could have avoided. Dangerous quality for an RJ to have.

Most memorable morning: When I found a complete breakfast spread on my office table at 6.30 a.m., arranged from The Park by my ex-boss John Vijay. I was moved. Also, when the entire city honked their vehicle horns when I asked them to do so for Commissioner Vijaykumar. The entire city really did.

Radio Byte: When a caller asks me how I am, I say “Enakku enna, naan rani maadhri irukken”

Gobinath, Radio City

RJing since: July 2006

Name of the show: Vanakkam Chennai

Wakes up by: 5 or 5.30 a.m.

Morning routine: Wake up, come early to office to go through newspapers and TV... at least one hour before the show. If I pass a temple, I make a silent prayer saying “Oh God! Please save me today”

Breakfast: I have two or three teas. And a little bread around 10 a.m. But most of the time, only after the show.

Mood/Style: Peppy and fresh. Energetic.

Likes: Whether you like it or not, you will wake up early and your job will get over by 11 or 1. Working in the mornings is nice. When you are waking people up, you get motivated too.

Hates: When I am coming back after a holiday and arrive early in the morning, the last thing I want to do is work. I hate that pressure.

Most memorable morning: Six months ago, there was a group of kids who were nine, seven and four and a half years old who often called to talk to me. They would ask me textbook questions from their third standard or fourth standard... If I couldn’t answer, they would be very happy. So I always lost and once called them to office and gave them gifts.

Radio Byte: Be positive, Be happy.

Dheena, Big FM

RJing since: May 2003

Name of the show: Kallakkal Kalai

Wakes up by: 4.15 a.m.

Morning routine: Clean my room, do crunches and breathing exercises, since I am health conscious. I wash my clothes and I get to work by 6.15 a.m. I prepare the previous evening. I watch news till midnight. I sleep only four hours a day.

Breakfast: Before I leave home, I have skimmed milk, wheat flakes or porridge and don’t eat anything else till lunch. I converted to vegetarianism a few years ago. I’m a teetotaler. I drink only tea.

Mood/Style: My mood is very fresh. I observe traffic rules quite faithfully and appeal to people to follow rules on my show. I give my opinion laced with humour.

Likes: My job is like my girlfriend. I was a Mechanical Engineer, and I am now in my seventh year of radio. What can I say? It’s my first love, my bread and butter. I just love radio.

Hates: I can’t celebrate festivals with family because that’s the day we have to do special shows. When everyone’s bursting crackers, I will be going to work. But I don’t regret it at all.

Most memorable morning: 2008 August 28, morning 5 a.m. That was when I completed 168 hours of jockeying… The day I set a new Guinness world record. Someone from Germany recently did 169 hours, but his certificate hasn’t been approved yet because the rules are quite rigid. So technically, I still hold the record.

Radio Byte: “He-high”… When you say “He-llo,” the syllabus indicates “low” . So I say “He-High”.

The Motley Crew Suryan FM

Suryan FM has a different strategy for the breakfast segment with five RJs playing five different characters through four hour-long shows.

First, Vishnupriya wakes up Suryan listeners at 7 a.m. with her infectious enthusiasm in ‘Anbudan Suryan FM’ — a show where listeners call in to wish their loved ones, be it birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, exams or for nothing at all.

RJs Arun and Anitha transform into the Kittu Maama, Susie Maami, the fictitious couple — hen-pecked Brahmin homemaker and the liberated London-returned working woman respectively — to discuss current affairs with humour. Personal affairs meets current affairs during this hour, as the mystery Yellow Churidhar adds fuel to the tension between the couple.

Blade Shankar does the celebrated Blade No. 1 show with his flair for mimicry and ‘kadi’ jokes. The segment begins with the fictitious Aruva Singam doing a stand-up routine. The hour ends with the tricky ‘Kundakka Mundakka’. Shankar then becomes the titular Chinna Thambi in Chinna Thambi, Periya Thambi (played by RJ Kavi). Chinna Thambi, of course, believes he’s the smarter of the two.

There’s ‘Tippu’ Kumar to give a tip for the day, Super News to focus on the story of the day and Bageer that fills in the listeners with the out of the ordinary news reports of the day. The show also throws in music trivia and suggests places to visit.