| 19 Apr 2024
The reality is that nobody listens to a radio jockey in India today

Navendu Kumar works at international radio station Sunrise Radio and has 16 years of experience in the industry. He is the programming in charge of ‘The Early Breakfast Show’ that airs every morning from 4 to 6 am. Sunrise Radio operates mainly in the west London area surrounding its base in Southall. The station was launched in 1989, serving west London’s Asian community. It was the first 24 hour Asian radio station to appear in the UK, and the first independent 24 hour Asian station in the world.

After having worked in the radio industry for over 16 years, I feel that the Indian radio industry died long back. It was alive only till 1994 when just three radio stations existed. It was like an open playground, where each of the three stations gave their best stuff to the listeners. With passing time competition started increasing and the playground is now full with 10 stations, who are creating a mess by churning out low quality content.

The reality in India today is that nobody listens to a radio jockey. The moment an RJ begins to speak, the listeners change the station and hear the songs being played on other channels. This is the basic attitude that is followed by radio listeners today and this fact cannot be denied. In such a scenario RJS proclaim that ‘they are a complete package’ on the station, but is this true and are they really versatile is the big question? Today, radio reaches in those areas where TV till date cannot be reached and thus the jockeys shed major responsibility of giving listeners maximum knowledge and updates about the happenings round the world. A capable and an efficient jock should be capable enough of giving 100 updates in 8 minutes to listeners, and I think this is not happening in the current radio scenario.

I feel very sad that today quality in radio content is missing and commercial aspect has become more. Radio is like food in which you need to cook the show; add the necessary ingredients to it and also know the art of serving the show to listeners. But how many stations really know and follow this art? No radio station can become complete unless its RJs put hard work and reach to listeners. Our Indian radio fraternity feels that an ‘RJ interaction with listeners is equivalent to god speaking with his devotees’.

Being in the west, whenever I speak with anybody on facebook in India and tell them that I am an RJ they do not believe so, as they feel that an RJ never interacts with anybody on facebook. Why this approach? Also it is seen that if any comment criticising an RJ is posted on the facebook, then it is deleted. Why does this happen? Why can’t they write the truth?

It is also commonly observed in India that only RJs of stations in metro cities bag awards, while RJs of small stations do not get one. Is it because metro station RJs are more influential than those in small towns. Why are the RJs paid according to their city? Can’t they be paid according to their knowledge? Also most of the times when a small town RJ applies to work in a metro station, he is not considered citing the reason as his lack of experience. Why is he given such an inferior treatment? Just because he is from a radio station in a small city. The prevalent thought might be that how can a small town RJ be better than RJs in the metros.

According to my knowledge, it is also true that RJs from private FMs are denied jobs in All India Radio. AIR’s one simple answer for this denial is that private FM RJs ‘blah blah’ a lot. I leave this question on my readers to think upon?

Meanwhile, western radio listeners have a very different approach as compared to those in our country. The listeners abroad are more keen to hear the jocks than songs. There are 3000 radio stations in the UK and despite of such a huge competition people really listen to the RJs there. If this can happen in the UK, then why not in India?

Working for 16 years in the radio industry and seeing the real colour of the picture I feel that the Indian radio industry is dead today. There is a saying in radio fraternity “Radio Main Koi Kisi Ka Nahi Hota” and this is something which is personally experienced. I have trained and conducted many workshops for RJs who are now popular in the leading FM stations of the country and today they deny to recognize me.

Many stations in India are happy with the impending advent of FM Phase III revolution, but how many would really go for it with cost cutting, centralisation of radio etc. How do you expect creativity in radio in such a scenario? I believe that a radio jockey’s creativity has been killed in today’s environment and he is just doing his job for the sake of it, which is true for any radio jockey of any station in any city.

I would just conclude by saying that today radio needs quality content, which can be produced only with hard work and dedication. Such content can only be produced when you work for listeners and their smile and not for the sake of working.