AIR’s upper age limit spells gloom for 100 radio jockeys in Kolkata

The sacked radio jockeys of AIR at a press conference at the press club of Kolkata last week. Photo: Special arrangement  

To remain a radio jockey (RJs) after 30 or leave the profession is the biggest question ailing the 100 odd RJs of All India Radio (AIR) in Kolkata. The casual RJs of AIR, some of whom have been working for the last 19 years, have been dropped from the weekly anchoring rota since last Saturday.

The RJs, however, were somewhat expecting the move as the upper age limit of a RJ was fixed at 35 for frequency modulation (FM) bands.

The move was initiated by AIR’s Directorate General in a circular in October, 2013, arguing that in order to “infuse freshness in presentation of programmes” the upper age limit of the RJs was fixed at 30.

Later, another circular (dated December 30, 2013) clarified that the age limit for FM presenters is 35.

While the RJs, who earlier went to court, are at a complete loss, renowned ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialists have termed the AIR’s move to dump radio anchors in mid-30s “ridiculous”.

The December circular stated that the “maximum age limit for the FM Channel presenters” would be 35 years.

“Once they have crossed the age limit, their bookings (to conduct radio shows) for these channels will be stopped,” the circular signed on behalf of Director General stated.

The RJs were recruited over last two decades through proper written and voice tests.

In a press release issued by the RJs from their hastily-launched platform, All India Radio Broadcasters’ Welfare Association, Kolkata (AIRBAWAK), they have said that from next months many of the “presenters whose main earning is from the radio may not be able to pay the school fees of their children”.

The Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) issued a stay on basis of a petition filed by the association. The stay was up to August 8 and the RJs were removed from their respective rotas from the next day.

What perhaps has confused the RJs more are the tweets by Prasar Bharati, the parent body of AIR.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Prasar Bharati, Jawhar Sirkar, twitted on Saturday saying nobody would be “sacked”.

“We told the DG not to sack. (This is) some mischief! Policy is under review,” Mr. Sirkar said. The Deputy Director General (Programming) of AIR in Kolkata, Swapna Mandal, refrained from making a comment as the matter is “sub-judice”. “I can not comment as the matter is in court,” she said. The next hearing of the case in CAT is around the end of the month.

The 100 odd association members are in complete darkness about the policy which presumably is “under review”. “No one told us anything, whether we would be getting any work in future or made totally redundant for age by one of the most reputed institutions of the country. Moreover, it is quite unbelievable that our voices are out of sync with the time,” said secretary of AIRBAWAK, Ayantika Ghosh.

“Policy ridiculous”

The senior ENT experts in the city called the policy ridiculous. “There is no connection between speech and age, especially when someone is 35. The policy is illogical,” said Dr. Barin Kumar Roychowdhury, noted ENT specialist. Dr Indranath Kundu called it “absurd and ridiculous.”

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Printable version | Oct 23, 2021 3:07:06 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kolkata/airs-upper-age-limit-spells-gloom-for-100-radio-jockeys-in-kolkata/article6303093.ece

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