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Features |  23 Aug 2013 17:18 |  By RnMTeam

RJ Neha: "I have never felt the need to build an image for the listeners"

She shifted from television to radio all thanks to her love for music. RJ Neha from Dheemi Local at Radio Mirchi has not looked back since. The versatile jock takes over this week's Musical Rendezvous to narrate her journey as an RJ and tells us about the music revolution happening today.

I have been with Radio Mirchi for eight years now and have got the taste of hosting shows in all the time bands. I started with the world of outdoor broadcasting (OB) where we had to travel across Mumbai, which made me interact with all kinds of people.

The first show I did was Dr Love in the late night slot. I really enjoyed a couple of years stint with the show and being an agony aunt. It’s been over three years with Dheemi Local now, then known as Total filmy between 2-5 pm.

The show is divided into two segments between me and Sangeeta. Having different personality helps since it makes the show different.

I have always tried being original when it comes to talking and never imitate any one and host sections that interest me. I am a foodie by nature so I host a segment called Mirchi Dabba. The show starts at 2 pm i.e. during the lunch hours. Thus I end up talking about food. I ask people to SMS me what they are having for lunch and sometimes I give them gifts and a title of Mirchi Dabba King or Queen.

Music is the USP of the show because it specialises in the 90s era, and we keep doing contests around it. There is another section we both do differently called 'Lo Kar Lo Baat'. In my segment I talk about what happens in the locals of Mumbai. I have realized that every day when a Mumbaikar gets back home; there is some story that they will surely have to share about travelling in local trains. So I let people share these stories.

Many people call and tell me that they met their five or ten year old friend in the train. I feel amazed and have concluded that Mumbai is not that big a city. Another thing that recently cracked me up was the story of a guy who was waiting for his train. He said since the trains were late on the Central Line, he decided to pass his time and opened his laptop to put on a movie. He said that within minutes he had an audience and a crowd had collected to watch it. Trains kept coming and passing but they finished the entire three hour movie. That is the kind of crazy stuff people do and it’s great fun listening to them.

I have never felt the need to build an image for the listeners. I do believe that it helps in stronger connect with them, but I try and do that in my own way on a one-on-one basis.

I love my competitors. I have made friends in all the radio stations so deep down inside you know it’s all in good spirit. I still call up radio stations and demand them to play a song of my choice.

RJs job is not only to talk but also to listen especially when you are interacting with someone. If you just keep cutting them, it is not good. Sometimes people have interesting things to say and if a jock just keeps jabbering (what they are known for), you will miss it. It helps when your show has good content being given out by someone else and not only you.

People think RJs can just walk in, turn the mike on and play a set of CDs. Believe me, it’s not like that. RJ training and education is very important. I loved music and listened to it a lot but I was not particularly a radio freak. The auditions just happened to me. Infact I was in TV before I came to radio. I think I found my space here.

Being a radio jockey is hard work and painful because there are no frills or support of any camera and more. So how you converse on the mike and create a magic is upto the jock. There is a fair amount of learning to do on how to present yourself because you need to make that connect. You don’t have to have an amazing voice, but if there is something about your personality that connects with the listener, it works for you. There is certain warmth required on radio because it’s very personal.

I personally research before every interview, it’s very important. It’s an added advantage if you can take out something from somewhere that even the celebrity will be surprised about. Even your listeners will get a kick out of it. Now there are artistes mushrooming in every corner of the country, so you have to be up to date.

I also host this show called Sunday Music Company on Sunday evenings between 6-9 pm for which I interview many music artistes. I remember once I was asking Rekha Bharadwaj that since she has worked a lot with AR Rahman, is there anything that she wants to tell him personally. She told me that she wanted to send him an email saying that when she listens to his song ‘Chupke Se’ from the film Saathiya, it acts like a healer for her. Whenever she feels low, she listens to the song on repeat. And she wanted to tell him that this is the magic he has created through the song.

All the people from the music industry have a bag of secrets. You just have to make them comfortable and see the secrets come out. Amit Trivedi comes across as a shy guy; he was here for the interview of Aiyya. And the moment the film’s lyricist Amitabh Bhattacharya walked in and went on a rampage with double meanings and more. They are best friends and I saw this other side of him that day. So you just have to get it cracking and it gives you immense pleasure.

I interviewed Keerthi Sagathia and he is a natural. He quickly gave me an interview, sang a few songs and had fun in just 40 minutes. With certain people you have to make effort while some are god gifted.

Since I listen to music from both eras, for me 90s is like childhood and something you can’t take away. Thus I enjoy talking about my memories from the 90s. There is a lot happening in today’s music also. I don’t cover only Bollywood music on my show; there are times when I get in independent artistes and composers as well. And I can see that they are really fighting to make a space now.

It’s funny how I am connected to both the shows because 90s was the time when indipop was alive and kicking. Now there are very less people left from indipop. I don’t know where everyone has disappeared. But I see that happening again now, and I feel really lucky to be part of a whole revolution that artistes are trying to create and where my show also has space for them.

The musicians too like this space where they can talk and present their music freely and they feel that Bollywood music just came and took over in the 90s and it’s been like that till now. Slowly that space is opening out now and even in film music, you are seeing very different kind of music. Films like Talaash and ABCD, the music was very different and amazing. So my show on Sunday gives us that freedom to feature all these guys and I am glad that music is coming back somewhere.

Of course Bollywood will always dominate the other genres, but these artistes have been doing some fantastic work. I feel slowly the line is getting erased and it’s all merging slowly.

Six myths listeners have about RJs:

--- People think when you do a three hour show; you are talking for three hours. RJs really don’t talk that much! We play a lot of songs and ads.

--- Music. Listeners think we get in a set of CDs and play music of our choice. But actually there is a system in place on what song will play when. It’s calculated and only when we do a request show does it change.

--- The myth that we are not accessible because they can’t see us is wrong. There are a lot of ways to contact an RJ like social networking sites, messages and more.

--- People think we get fake calls and messages. It’s not true. Callers are all scanned and then they are selected.

--- We don’t have favourite listeners who win gifts. It depends on the content and what adds value to the show.

--- All interviews are not live. Some of them are pre-recorded. I think listeners are becoming aware of this now. But what we talk on-air is completely live.

( has been constantly trying to innovate and provide readers with the best information about the goings-on in the industry. We are happy to introduce the special section titled 'Musical Rendezvous'. The objective: delve deeper into the minds of senior professionals from the radio and music industries, to understand trends and developments and get other insights about the way forward. A big ‘thank you’ to all for supporting this endeavour- giving our reporters time and knowledge- so we can share it with our readers).