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Interviews |  06 Jul 2012 20:12 |  By 

RJ Sayema: "The core essence of Purani Jeans is its viewers"

The award-winning host of one of the longest running show ‘Purani Jeans’ on Radio Mirchi Delhi, RJ Sayema has completed nine memorable years with the station. The radio jock with her warmth has won many hearts in her journey as an RJ, show producer and now the national music manager of Radio Mirchi.

In a nostalgic chat with’s Chandni Mathur, Sayema reminisces her initial days in the industry and talks about how her show has evolved over the years.


It’s been almost nine years since you have been hosting Purani Jeans. How has the journey been?

The journey has been fantastic. When the journey is really nice you lose the count of the years you have been on a particular show. These nine years have been very joyful, enriching and entertaining and it’s almost like home and family to me now.

How has been the experience of working with Mirchi?

When I joined Radio Mirchi in 2003, I was a raw talent because in AIR (worked as news reader) I got lot of opportunities to make mistakes and learn. Mirchi was my first job as an RJ and for me it was like entering an examination room where I had to perform. I started off by giving myself a challenge that here I have to compete and the study period is over. So that’s how my journey has been taking me from an RJ to a producer and now a national music manager.

What inspired you to be an RJ?

When I was in the 12th standard, I was very fond of getting my diction right and reading knowing that there was something about my voice that I liked. Once, my father got this new music system which came along with a mic. One day when he was out for some work, I began reading the newspaper in the news like style and recorded it. While I was playing it to myself, my father suddenly entered from behind and I immediately switched it off out of fear. He shouted saying that whenever there is news on-air; you should not turn the system off. Surprisingly I told him that was my voice, he told me it was not bad and walked away. He gave wings to my dreams.

I called up AIR and told them that I wanted to be their news anchor. When they asked me my qualification I told them I was still in school. So they informed me that it’s only after graduation that you can apply for the post. I got into Vidhwani, which was a section catering to teenagers, and stayed there for three years in the music section with the hope of getting into AIR but it never happened. After three years the auditions for FM western music section happened. I cleared the auditions for that and became an English radio jockey. Then finally after a year the auditions for news reading happened which I cleared and became a national English newsreader for AIR. It was a dream come true. Eventually I realised how passionate I was about music and that’s how my journey in radio began.

What kind of new content has been brought into your show since 2003?

Definitely the core content of the show is retro music between the era of 60s, 70s and 80s. We launched with a lot of music from the 70s and 80s which was very famous and then we mixed it with music from the 60s as well. So we keep mixing the music palette sometimes. Apart from that we also do a lot of specials. We had ‘Legends’ special for two-three months where we aired music of the legends from yesteryears who took us through the journey of bollywood’s golden era. Following its success, we also had a ‘Legends part 2’ where we featured music of renowned actors. We also had a segment ‘Superstars ki Jung’ where we brought Rafi and Kishore fans, Asha and Lata fans together and they discussed why one was better than the other. That was a lot of fun but the core essence of Purani Jeans is its viewers. The slot of 9pm-12am should be a time where you should be with yourself. That’s the promise we have consistently been delivering from 2003.

What are your views on radio stations offering differentiated content through new formats? Do you think it’s helpful?

I think any change is welcome and it’s a fabulous opportunity for a listener because every person has varied moods and if there is variety in terms of music content and format, it’s always for the good. And from the point of view of a listener or a professional from the industry, I think it’s a fabulous move. Everybody should keep experimenting. There should be a competitive spirit in all of us. Challenge in terms of competition and challenge in terms of self also is very healthy and extremely necessary.

What are you views on Purani Jeans hosted in Mumbai by RJ Anmol?

Anmol is a very dear friend of mine and I guess both of us began in the same year. We were both friends when we decided to do radio. So he is more of a buddy to me than a colleague. Its just sheer luck that we both are doing the same show in two different cities. He is passionate about retro music so it’s great to see him do so well in the show.

What are the challenges faced by you as an RJ to offer differentiated content to listeners?

Night time band definitely brings with it a different kind of mood altogether. When one is doing a late night show, they need to remember that it’s actually evening graduating into night. 9-10pm is a rush hour in the city and its only post 10 that the city relaxes. So the 9-12 band is a differentiated band. Every hour is different from the other. And that is the actual challenge for the RJs. Through my show I literally bring Delhi back to their comfort zone. In terms of music also, the designing of the show needs to be particular in my mind. If I start my show at 9pm with a very calm note it might not work according to the pulse of the city at that hour. So I have to be a little chirpy and high on energy and as the show progresses into the night, I have to take it easy. The challenges of a night band are very different from those of a day band.

With numerous off-ground activities taking place, do you feel they help RJs?

Off-ground activities are a very welcome change because radio is a medium where the moment a listener hears your voice, they draw a picture of you in their mind. The picture should not remain so because radio jockeys are not superstars. They are the bestest of buddies. They are the people who you should reach out to. Thus it is very important for a listener to meet and connect with their best friends. And in turn it’s a great pleasure for us too. It’s come in a little late but it’s a welcome change and it has to obviously graduate from this to the next level as well.

Who is your favourite RJ? Why?

My favourite RJ is Naved who hosts Sunset Samosa. He is the only guy I can’t replace. The kind of sense of humour and wit that he has is fabulous. That is something I cannot do, so I simply adore and look up to him. Overall he is a very good package and I envy him because I can never copy his humour and jovial attitude, it just does not come to me naturally.

What is the USP of RJ Sayema?

Sayema as a person is not different from Sayema the radio jockey. I don’t put up a different face on-air. Every word that I speak to the listeners is straight from my heart and I would never lie to my listeners.

What are your key responsibilities and challenges as national music manager?

One of the key responsibility and challenge is to deliver the music as per the standards of the industry and the entertainment value of the listeners. To maintain the flow of the music as per the requirements of the station, to format it and to position it is the key responsibility that I have to undertake. Radio is 70 per cent music so it’s very important to play the right kind of music for every show.

What are your views on the current music scenario?

I feel the current music scenario is very promising. The new breed of talent is showing a lot of experiments in music which is working out really well. And we have already reached that point where there is no distinction between parallel cinema and commercial cinema. People are now much more open to hearing experimental music which is a great thing. It’s a very promising scenario as compared to the music of the 90s.

With so many years of experience what would you like to say to the young talent emerging in the radio industry?

I would like to tell all the emerging radio jockeys of today that do radio only if you are truly passionate about it. Get into the medium only if you want to connect with people and you believe that you can create magic on-air. If you are passionate about music this is it for you. But don’t do radio if you just want to be another jock or draw a salary.

Do you think radio jocks follow a regulation for what they speak on-air?

In our field we are addressing more than one person so we have to follow certain rules and regulations. There should be some standard for us to adhere to. Because we are connecting to so many people, we should have a sense of social responsibility. Anything can be impromptu but you need to be aware of what you are speaking on-air to a live audience.

What is the future of the radio sector with the much awaited phase III expansion?

We have just begun on that front and I think it will just be fabulous. Radio is just going to become better. A whole lot of opportunities and new avenues are going to open up in the sector now. With private FM stations, that has already begun.

What are your future plans?

I really do not think about my future too much. I have realised that whatever I plan never happens but whatever I come across as I am going along, proves to be fabulous for me. I always wanted to be a lecturer, I did everything to get that but eventually I ended up picking up radio as my full-time career. Right now I am trying to do my present job with perfection and then I will decide what next to pick up. Till then, I aim to touch greater heights in radio.