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Interviews |  17 Aug 2012 14:11 |  By 

RJ Rhicha: "The format of our show is different & neither am I like Oprah Winfrey"

One of Delhi’s most popular voices, RJ Rhicha is well known for her charm and connect with listeners. She began her radio stint in Dubai before moving on to Fever FM in Delhi where she currently hosts the popular interactive show ‘Zara Si Life’. Based on the format of the Oprah Winfrey Show, it provides a platform for listeners to tune in and narrate their stories on various aspects of life. The show is the revamped version of a request show hosted by the RJ earlier.

In a candid chat with Radioandmusic.com’s Chandni Mathur, Rhicha narrates some of the memorable moments she has experienced on the show and what makes ‘Zara Si Life’ the most loved show in the capital.

Excerpts:

How long have you been associated with Fever FM? How has your journey been?

Well it’s been three years with Fever FM and it has been a very colourful and enriching journey. I have got a lot of chance to explore myself during my tenure here and I figured out in my entire nine year radio career, that interactive shows are my forte. It’s not because of me but instead it’s listening to people who need someone to talk to. I figured out that I am a good listener and then ‘Zara Si Life’ came my way. We have a variety of emotions in the show. Before this I was doing a request show which was again an interactive show but we improvised upon the entire format to connect on a more profound level with ‘Zara Si Life’.

What were the challenges you faced as a fresher in the industry?

Interestingly I did not start my radio career in India. My first radio stint was in Dubai. I was a total bundle of nerves on the first day and you won’t believe it but I did the entire show standing up as the energy and adrenaline was so much. I would not like to call it a challenge as now when I look back at it, I just think that it was something I am never going to be able to do again. I have learnt that unless and until you are your own self, people are not going to accept you and I think that is what worked for me. When we go for live events or when someone comes into the studios, they always tell me that I am exactly the same person that they believe after listening to my voice. Being the ‘girl next door’ helps as when listeners call they feel they are talking to a friend rather than a RJ.

Tell us about your show ‘Zara Si Life’.

We launched the show in January this year and it’s been such a fulfilling experience because it’s not a show anymore for me. We started off the show with a thought that it will provide a platform to listeners to come and speak their mind. Now after three-four months I feel that my life is connected to people’s lives. It’s like a learning experience for me everyday because there are so many things that I don’t know and when people talk I understand a different perspective to life. Often people need someone who can listen to them without being biased or judgmental and that is what the show is all about.

What are the new changes introduced into the show after its revamp?

‘Zara Si Life’ is the revamped version of the interactive show I was hosting earlier. It was a basic request show where we would have listeners calling in, having a basic conversation and then playing the track of their choice. Now the show has a theme which gives people food for thought. The magic happened when we aligned the songs as per the emotions of the caller. That took our show to a different level altogether. As per our format, we have a theme with each episode and sometimes a particular theme carries forward to the next episode as well. There are so many listeners who want to share their stories but we have limited time thus I push for an extension to allow them to speak their heart out.

What do you feel draws your listeners towards the show?

Let me share a story with you that transpired on the show. Once there was a guy whose wife had some complications in pregnancy. The doctor told him that either your wife or your baby will survive and you have only the night to think about it. Flustered, the guy went to the Nizammudin Dargah and ran into this old man who gave him some flowers and told him to go to the hospital as his wife has given birth to a baby boy. The man was surprised and did not believe him but took the flowers and went to the hospital to find that what the man said was true, both the wife and baby were doing fine. This is obviously a big miracle and the right song to play at this instance would be something like ‘Kun Faaya Kun’ from Rockstar. The moment I played that song the guy started crying. These are the magical moments that make the show so special.

It is said that the ‘Zara Si Life’ is based on the Oprah Winfrey Show. What are your views on the comparison?

I really love Oprah Winfrey. She is an icon for a lot of us. But when people are comparing my show with hers what they are trying to do is relate the emotional connect that is witnessed on her show with mine. The format of our show is different and neither am I like her, but the kind of emotions displayed on the show is what relates us together. Even when I was doing the request show, we came up with this concept because we figured out that people open up to me easily.

Being an interactive show, what are the challenges faced by you in offering the right kind of advice?

The trick is that I don’t dole out advices. I am just their friend. I never take the pressure of giving any advice. Sometimes when I am in a fix I tell my listeners. In my life if there is a problem I surrender myself 100 per cent to god. And when the faith is of such a deep level, things turn around on their own. I also treat my listeners similarly. There are times when I am angry or upset and I tell my listeners that. I am not any goddess on the show. I am just myself, just Rhicha.

Any such moments where you were tongue tied?

There was a moment on the show where I broke down and cried. I had no idea that would happen but it did. Our theme for that episode was child abuse and there was this girl on the show who described everything and suddenly in the middle of it she broke down and started crying. And there were moments of pauses on-air and I could not say anything because I was crying too. I just felt like giving her a hug so I told her people are listening to her right now and whoever has tuned in is surely saying a prayer for her which will not go waste. That was a moment where I was tongue-tied as I could not think about what to say.

With stiff competition in the market, how do you try to keep your show different from the rest in the same time band?

The competition factor has become very superficial for me. The numbers do come in and I do feel happy that the show is doing well and it is number one in the city by such a large margin where you have the largest market share. I do respect what the other radio stations and RJs are doing but the stature of my show is such that I don’t need to bother about competition anymore. I am more bothered about what my listeners are feeling and if I can touch their lives at a certain level automatically things turn around. We have been number one for so many weeks now that the competition doesn’t bother me anymore. I am too connected to the person talking to me rather than worrying about what the competition is doing. I can’t waste my energy on that.

Which has been your most memorable moment on the show?

Well there have been many memorable moments but there is this one particular moment that still haunts me. We had a girl on the show who was a rape victim. The most courageous thing was she had the faith in me to come on-air and talk about it. She told me that it’s only her mom who is supporting her and helping her fight the case. All her relatives were against her saying to just bury the entire matter and forget it. That was a very difficult call for me as during the course of the show we realised that rape is a crime where the victim is made to feel like a criminal which is wrong.

We also had an episode where we were discussing about the partition of India and we had aged people calling up and telling us their stories. It was an amazing experience. 

Tell us about the kind of music played on your show? Do you try to introduce innovations on that front too?

The show is very positive and focuses on looking at the bright side of things. Similarly our music is also very positive and in the ‘easy listening’ category. We do not play fast tempo tracks but instead focus on beautiful songs like ‘Arziyaan’ from Delhi 6, ‘Aashayein’ from Iqbal, ‘Kun Faaya Kun’ from Rockstar amongst others. All these songs make the show what it is. As per the format we don’t really go back to the music of the 70s and 80s but if sometimes we feel the situation needs it, we do play some classic songs of the 90s. I remember there was a blind girl who tuned into our show everyday, we had a beautiful conversation and the song had to be ‘Ye Dil Sun Raha Hai’ from Khamoshi.

What do you enjoy most about being a jock?

Music has always been my passion but now being able to connect to a variety of people on such a large level is a great experience. All this contributes to your personal growth and that’s what I like the most about being a radio jockey.

With most stations undergoing a change in format, what are your views in terms of Fever FM?

Innovations should keep on happening as that is a part of the growth process. Of course we are number one, so the others down the list must be surely thinking of ways to constantly innovate. But being on the top does not mean that you become complacent. When we revamped ‘Zara Si Life’, Fever was still on top of the charts but still we were driven to give something new to people that would actually make a difference to them. Innovations should keep happening irrespective of the fact if they work or not.

Who inspires you when it comes to jocking?

There are people who inspire me a lot. For instance there is a celebrity coordinator in my office who won an award recently. When everyone congratulated him, he just said that the award was just a mere thing. People started to believe that he was showing off but he said that if you take away all the awards from a person, and then if something remains that is the true achievement. Another such anecdote is when Shah Rukh Khan came on the show. He said that once he attained only 51 marks in English inspite of being the school topper which depressed him a lot. Another time he wanted to get into football but he injured his leg and could not make it there. To divert his mind he got into theatre followed by cinema and now he is a superstar. He said everything becomes ok in the end and if it is not ok, it’s not the end yet. That was very inspiring as well.

What according to you is the most essential element of a show, an RJ or a listener?

On ‘Zara Si Life’ it has to be the listener who comes onto the show and dares to narrate his experience in front of the entire audience. That’s the most important element of my show. Secondary is the RJ who should atleast be able to give the person enough comfort level to open up.

Any plans of trying your hands on acting or anchoring like your fellow competitors?

No my hands are full with my show right now and I am just enjoying the journey which is absolutely beautiful. There are still so many things left to do in the show.

What tips would you like to give to aspiring RJs of today?

The most important thing is you have to be yourself. The moment you try to pretend and act like something you are not, the magic disappears. An RJ should not be a hero or heroine; they should just be a person the listener can talk to.

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