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Interviews |  11 Aug 2015 17:00 |  By RnMTeam

I stammered till the age of 17: RJ Nasir

Sardar Nasir Ali Khan best known as RJ Nasir of Big FM - Srinagar's first RJ is a favourite of the locals. He can speak fluently in Punjabi, Kashmiri, English, Hindi and Urdu.

He started his career as an RJ at All India Radio in 2005 and has continued to be an RJ in spite his stints in news channel. Nasir is also known for his helpful nature among the people of Srinagar.

In conversation with, RJ Nasir speaks about his journey as an RJ, the obstacles that he faces and the connection he shares with Srinagar.


When and how did you become an RJ?

Frankly speaking I did not have a plan ‘B’. So, I knew that I had to be an RJ. However, let me tell you a bit of my back story. I had a stammering issue throughout my childhood and it even managed to make space in my teenage years. Moreover I was overweight so, I was teased and bullied by most of the kids in the school. Hence, subconsciously I had decided that I’ll do something where I would have to talk.

What about your stammer?

I stammered till the age of 17 but after that my school changed and the kids I was studying with too changed. So, there was no bullying around and that gave me the space to move out of the shell. I was always good in studies so in the new school I became the vice captain. That made me a bit confident about myself. The next good thing that happened to me was my first girlfriend. All these things boosted my confidence and I got rid of the stammering.

Was RJ-ing your first job ever?

Yes, I started as an RJ in 2005 for All India Radio (AIR). I was in my first year of college then. At AIR I played western music for the listeners from 2005 to 2007. I used to play songs by Backstreet Boys and Linkin Park. It was fun. 

You never tired anything else?

I did try working at a news channel before I became an RJ at Big FM. I completed my graduation by 2008 and went on to complete my post graduation from Delhi NASCO Media in Noida. Soon after I tried for jobs at news channels and I did get a job as an intern in one of them. Then I came back to Srinagar in 2009. Around this time 92.7 Big FM was looking out for a Radio Jockey and I got selected for the job. Since, then I’ve been RJ-ing.

How do your school friends react when they meet you now?

That’s the best part of my story. Trust me no one believes that I am the same person who stammered in school. Our school had an alumni meet recently and they invited me as guest. It felt really nice. I remember that as a kid I always wished to say things in the school assembly like the other students of my age but I could never. But, that day I got the opportunity to walk up to the same podium and speak.  

What are the difficulties that you face as an RJ in Srinagar?

We have a small state and moreover, it’s a disturbed state too. Plus, we are the only radio station there. There aren't many mediums of entertainment too, so people usually tune in to the radio. Hence, we are scrutinised the most and we have to be precise. I know that if I make even a tiny mistake, a lot of people will notice.

Tell us a bit about your show - ‘Big Morning Show’.

On my show, I take up humanitarian issues that are not being discussed in the region like women issues, eve teasing, drug addiction, smoking, etc. I have run campaigns on them and it has changed the society. I also feel that the authorities become answerable with the efforts that we put in. Even today, listeners tune in to our station because they know the kind of issues that we look at solving.

Have you ever been threatened by someone because of the issues that you raise on you show?

I was running a drug addiction campaign and I got a call on-air, asking me to stop getting into the issue. Maybe that person was a drug addict. But, such things don’t stop me from working on these campaigns. In fact while we took out the ‘Sutta Chhod De Yaar’ campaign, I quit smoking. I couldn’t have asked my listeners to quit smoking while I was still doing it. That’s some real hard work.

People don’t have role models in this state and when you know they are looking up to you; one has to set an example. 

People are putting their faith in Big FM. Comment.

The major turning point for Big FM and for me as an RJ was the 2014 flood. I was on air for 14 hours and that led to a lot of acceptance. The other RJs couldn’t make it to office due to the roads being blocked. The way to my house was blocked on the third day and I too couldn’t reach the office. That time built people's trust in Big FM. We worked really hard to help people and it did feel good.

I believe that the image of Big FM is very different in this small city. The locals can walk up to us with all their grievances. The issues can vary from being a water issue to something really big. But no matter what the issue is, we put them across to the authorities. I like the expression on these people’s faces at the end of the day. This is intoxication for me as a person.

In March, there was a flood and water entered a gurudwara in the region. I received a call from a sardarji asking for help. The next minute I went on-air and asked people in the neighbourhood to help and not wait for the authorities. The next day we received a call from the same man thanking me. He had received help not only from the locals but also from the authorities. 

Do you also do things on personal level?

My friends and I have started something called ‘Books for orphans’ on Facebook where we ask people to donate their old text books to help the underprivileged. Even during the floods, we gave people a lot of relief material. Since I live in a slightly higher region, my place wasn’t flooded, hence we set up a relief centre where we made medication, sanitary napkins, food and water available for everyone.

I am a local here and I know at least four out of ten problems that they face every day. I know that a man walking on the road is not too sure if there will be electricity back home and if he’ll get to eat.

Tell us a bit about Independence Day in Srinagar?

The notion of Independence Day is weird. Even if I want to celebrate it, I can’t because there is high security in the entire region on that day. Our phones are jammed from 7 am to midnight. You have to take permission from at least 10 people before moving out of the house in case of an emergency. These are a few things that one has to inherit from a place that you’re staying. I do not know what will happen once I move out of the studio. But we have to keep the show going, no matter what happens.

In 2009-2010 the condition in Kashmir was bad. I use to leave my house at 6 am and walk up to my office and leave from there at 8 pm. I used to be the only jockey running the station as the conditions were so bad that one couldn’t move out of the house. There used to be curfew everywhere, which was removed only for 15 minutes. We have seen some crazy tough times.

Do you wish to be in a bigger city at times?

When I go to other cities, the first thing that I do is to turn on to the radio to see what RJs on different stations are doing. I think of all that I could have and would have done if I was in their place. However, now that I am here and I’ve worked really hard, I would like to stay here. I have made a name for myself and people have accepted me.

What kind of music do you like listening to?

Sufi music. I am a diehard fan of Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and I also like Gurdas Maan.