| 22 May 2024
Voices up for grabs

In a fast growing industry, radio jockeys are jumping jobs fast too. Radioandmusic tries to analyse the trend.

A mushrooming industry, a small talent pool, and big money. Potent ingredients for high attrition.Exactly what“s happening in the burgeoning radio industry in the country. The last few months have witnessed the movement of several radio jockeys from one station to another in the metros, as well as the smaller towns where the airwaves are abuzz with FM.

Interestingly, it isn't just the lesser known voices that are hopping over to rival stations, but jockeys who were being associated as key RJs in their home stations that are making the switch.

While the money power unleashed by the newer entrants is being cited as one of the main reasons for the switches, there are other, subterranean reasons that are now being openly bandied about. In a growing radio industry, the voice of the RJ now demands to be heard above the clutter. Creative differences, ego clashes and even a change in the time slot the RJ hosts - can all lead to a job jump.

Endless options From a clutch of two to three stations per metro, the radio industry today has 263 stations throughout the country, with another 175 to be added in the next few months. Naturally, everyone with a radio license is keen to recruit its own band of jockeys, preferably with some experience, which would do away with the need for grooming from scratch.

In a recent interview with, Lavanya, who quit Radio City after a five year stint, to shift to Big FM said, "Radio is a growing industry. And as the industry grows, the numbers of players increase and to attract the best in their firms, they provide good offers. For those who have good experience, the options are endless."

Lavanya isn?‹?“t alone. Aniruddh (Mumbai) quit Radio City to join Big fm, Shekhar (Hyderabad) recently moved to Big to host the Breakfast show, and even Big?‹?“s Chennai RJ Dheena who recently set a jockeying record, shifted last year after four years in Suryan.

On Shekhar's joining, Big?‹?“s Hyderabad station director Ashwin Padmanabhan was quoted as saying,"RJs are the essence of a radio station, giving it a flavour of its own. We are immensely happy to have jocks like Shekhar on board as he brings with him an overall experience from television as well as radio. I am confident that Shekhar?‹?“s strong personality and his innate sense of humour clubbed with the excellent platform Big FM offers for his talents will enable him to quickly rule the hearts of the listeners."

Shekhar?‹?“s take was equally candid. "I have been integrally associated with TV and radio for a long time and when a station like Big poses an opportunity to take my creativity to a new level, then why not? Working with Big is great, firstly because it is the best in the industry and secondly because I have been given the opportunity to host ?‹?“Big Sandadi?‹?“ which is already a very popular show amongst radio listeners in Hyderabad." Creative Differences Jockeys who host shows for a long time often develop their own views about hosting the show, which could differ from those held by the programming heads. This has been resulting in creative clashes, which sources indicate, have been increasingly occuring at every radio station, particularly in the metros. Lavanya accedes, "My show at Radio City was doing really well and hence, it was taken for granted.

Whenever I wanted something new on my show, it was passed on to the other shows which weren't doing all that well. Also, they didn't let my creative side develop on my show, something that can be frustrating for any jock."

Lure of lucre With the entry of big players into the field, pay packages for RJs have shot through the roof. While even metro stations were offering salaries in the range of Rs 12,000 for freshers two years ago, novices can command salaries in the range of Rs 20,000 to Rs 25,000. Freshers starting in small towns too can look at salaries in the range of Rs 12000 to Rs 15000 today.

The veterans, with three to four years“ experience behind them, command even better salaries, very often upwards of Rs 50,000. Those hosting the prime time shows like the morning slots, earn even better, often above Rs 80,000 per month, say sources.Naturally, All India Radio, which pays its jockeys Rs 500 per show they host, has become a mere training ground for talent to hone itself, before moving on to greener pastures.

Hunting in packs Another feature that is emerging in the metros is the trend of pulling in a known RJ and getting him / her to bring along a couple of younger jocks too. A soon-to-launch station in Mumbai has already poached a set of jockeys from an established station, say sources. BAG Films managing director Anurradha Prasad rues the trend, "The talent is there, but the training is missing." Prasad prefers to recruit talent nurtured by her media institute in Delhi for BAG?‹?“s stations launched under the brand Dhamaal. "We adopt a different strategy. Good jockeys have to graduate to being men from boys. We ensure that they are regularly well informed, trained at regular intervals and in touch with the cities they will be hosting in."Getting slotted the prime time morning and evening slots are considered the hot spots for successful RJs. Although BIG FM?‹?“s programming head Manav Dhanda counters, "If we say that morning and evening slots are the prime ones, it just doesn?‹?“t mean the other slots aren?‹?“t! In fact, all through the day we target an altogether different set of listeners and format our programme according to that," the competition is fierce for the prize spots.

And when the RJ does not get the show she or he wishes to host, grumblings of dissent begin. Says Lavanya, "To many RJs, the slot s/he hosts does matter! But in a city like Mumbai that never sleeps, I don?‹?“t think it is too good to host a morning slot. In fact, I prefer the mid-morning slots more than evening or morning slots."Me too Ego clashes are next on the list after creative differences, money matters and time issues. Says radio consultant Ravi I Yaar, "In this industry, one should adopt an attitude of learning and being open to suggestions from the creative unit. Jocks can face ego issues the day they feel ?‹?“it?‹?“s my show and I should decide what has to be done with it?‹?“. The ones who are very egoistic by nature tend to discontinue being with the station."

Says Lavanya, "When you work with some radio station for many years, it?‹?“s a very comfortable feeling since you know about everyone?‹?“s attitudes and reactions there. But when people start taking you lightly, its time to move ahead then! This isn?‹?“t ego; this is just one way to stop your creative side from deteriorating!"

Work Environment While the attrition rate from some stations has been high, there are some like Radio One that have managed to retain the loyalty of its jockeys over the years. Stations like Radio City and Dhamaal (run by BAG Films) have instituted incentive schemes like overseas training programmes and intra office awards to help retain talent.

Says Prasad, "A station needs to understand that its ethos is based on the content that the RJs project. We may not be able to hold back people with money power, but we give them a solid platform and good content to work with."

Says Radio One VP programming and brand Vishnu Athreya, "We try to maintain a culture of our own. This often keeps our employees away from quitting our station just to join someone else. We make sure every employee is taken care of, especially the jocks."