Do you love music? Have you always dreamt of saying things like, “This is Chandamama (or wotever your name is) and you’re listening to 107.1 FM”. If the answer is yes, then you’re tuned in to the right magazine. Coz we’re gonna tell you all about being a Radio Jockey (RJ). Rule the air waves, enjoy the mystical aura of the radio and get paid to play your favorite tunes. Sounds good, doesn’t it?
If it’s radio, it must be FM
Our FM radios crackled to life on August 15th, 1993, with the voice of Hrishikesh Kannan hosting the first ever show to be launched on FM in India. The government opened up the air waves to private operators and a plethora of broadcasters like Radio Mid-day, Times FM, Radio Star etc became household names. And RJs became mini celebrities. In 1998 AIR did not renew licenses of private operators and is now broadcasting from its own studios.
Not a PJ, an RJ
There are RJs and there are PJs. A good Radio Jockey (RJ) must have a good clear voice, good diction, intensive knowledge of music, and make interesting one way chit-chat. There really is no comprehensive training course to be an RJ, and the field is talent based, but a background in theatre can be of big help. Fluency and confidence are essential – irritating accents are avoidable.
At present there are 2 ways of gaining entry into the RJ field:
1. Approach the Software Producer
A software producing company, as the name suggests, produces radio programs for clients (eg companies like Amul, JK Tyres etc buy air time from All India Radio). Being sponsored programs the company always looks out for established RJs who are a safe bet and will guarantee listeners to the show. Freshers are rarely chosen, but then again if you can impress the software producing company, you’re on. Sponsored programs pay you between Rs 1400 to Rs 2500 per show, so you’re really raking in the moolah. A few radio software producers in Mumbai are Radiostar, Radio Mid-day and Radiowani. Hrishi K also produces software for radio.
2. Give an audition at AIR (All India Radio)
The best part about private operators going off the air is that it has opened up tremendous opportunities for freshers. This is becoz AIR has lotsa air time on its hands and not enough ad-supported shows to fill it up with. So, RJs are sought after to host these non-sponsored programs. Although government funding does not allow for high budgets (fresh RJs get Rs 250 a show, going up to a max Rs 500 a show). Peanuts compared to private broadcasters, but don’t forget that it’s a great chance for you to show off your golden voice on air. If you’re good enuff and establish yourself, then a software producing company is bound to notice you and sign you on. You never know!
I’d like to audition, please!
AIR holds auditions for RJs every 3 months and notices are put up on a board at the AIR bldg. All you gotta do is fill out a form enrolling yourself for the audition and land up on the respective day, not looking but sounding your best. The Program coordinator holds the auditions and you might be asked to do a fake interview with say Michael Jackson or a mock dial-in show etc. Your wit, humor and presence of mind, other than a good voice will make the program coordinator sit up and listen. Normally around 300 hopefuls give auditions, out of which only 6 are chosen! After you have been selected, AIR trains you for a period of 2 months where you learn everything from operating a CD player to mixers and DATs (Digital Audio Technology) etc.
RJing is not the end of the lane, talented voices can branch out into allied fields such as doing voice over for ads, (the best in the industry get paid 5K for a 30 sec ad!), Compereing live shows and TV anchoring are also avenues if you’ve got what it takes (here it sure helps if your looks match your voice, or at least don’t scare people away!)
Xavier’s Institute of Communication conducts a course in Announcement, Compereing and Dubbing and so does Film and Television Institute (FTII), Pune.
Although the clamp down on private operators took the Mickey out of radio for a while, it has now struggled back on to its feet and is back to providing great music to all its listeners.
The medium of radio is in its nascent stage right now and thus provides great potential and scope for those who want to get into the industry. While western countries have radio stations a dime a dozen, dedicated stations, providing everything from on air psychiatrists (check out Frasier on Star World) to Lonely Hearts forums (Sleepless in Seattle anyone?). The day is not far when the Indian airwaves will also be crackling, once the government allows real privatization with multiple FM frequencies. That’s when listeners will have a real choice and RJs will be in hajaar demand. And of course, in competition! Like Hrishi K says, “Radio soothes, it thrills, it will sweep you off your feet. It’s like falling in love for the first time.” What else is there to say except “go out and let the world hear you!”
Where is AIR:
New Broadcasting House,
Opp MLA Hostel,
Mumbai 400 020