Ayushmann Khurrana, Manish Paul, Nikhil Chinappa, Abish Mathew, Malishka Mendonsa.
These are the names we are used to listening time and again. They aren’t just celebrities, anchors or comedians, but also former Radio Jockeys. They had charmed us with their voices and now continue to do so with their respective talents.
Isn’t it fascinating how with just the touch of a button, the room is full of joyful banter and melodies? That’s what a radio is, and has been over the ages. Initially, when radio was introduced in the early 1930s, it was solely a news source and gradually developed itself in the spheres of cricket commentary, music, entertainment shows, and advertising.
Radio is an integral part of our lives, even if we may not always realise it. Be it long hours of traffic, or a jog or maybe just day-to-day chores, just switching on the radio adds life to mundane routines.
But have you ever stopped to realise what’s the element that adds so much joy? It’s a Radio Jockey. In simple words, they are the magicians behind those loudspeakers amuse us with their funny antics, anecdotes and playlists.
If you are reading this article, you must have been fascinated by the work of a Radio Jockey at some point or the other, and may have landed here too wondering if it could indeed be your life’s calling.
For your benefit, we interviewed RJ Rahul Makin of Fever 104 FM to get his take on what it’s like to be a Radio Jockey in India.
Scroll down to the end of this article to watch the full video interview.
Who is a Radio Jockey?
A radio jockey is a person who hosts shows for specific durations of time. S/he manages playlists, advertisements, entertains listeners and often indulges in conversations with listeners regarding concerned topics.
A radio jockey is given a period of 3-4 hours of fixed time every day or during weekends, to entertain listeners. The show s/he hosts have a certain theme (just like television shows). It can be a talk show where the host solves issues of the listener of a certain kind, a storytelling show where the host narrates stories, a news bulletin and or even a comedy show where the host mimics and pranks people for hilarity.
“The best part is that you get money for speaking, for giving advice to people. There are not a lot of choices of professions where you get such a privilege.” – Rahul Makin
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What are the Skills Required to Be a Radio Jockey?
Being a radio jockey may seem like a very easy thing to do – all you need to do is talk, right? Well, it is not as easy as it seems.
Being a Radio Jockey, like any profession, requires a lot of hard work, dedication, and the right aptitude to be successful. Below are a few necessary skills which can help you figure out if you have it in yourself to become a radio jockey.
1. Ability to Modulate Voice: Voice modulation is the art of adding expression to your voice, being aware of when the voice should be loud, what phrases should be emphasised, etc. Nobody on their radio sets would want to hear someone talking in a monotone for hours. It is important that your voice is pleasing and engaging for the audience.
2. Being Up to Date with Trends: Rahul Makin states in his interview that it is very important for an RJ to read a lot of newspapers, trivia and be updated about current issues, news, films and latest movie releases, etc. as people really look up to radio jockeys for that information.
3. Sense of Humour and Spontaneity: As a radio jockey, you will always be live because nothing as such is scripted. There may be times when the situation or a program goes unplanned, you should be spontaneous enough to handle it and witty enough to tackle it.
4. Content Writing Skills: It can be tough to entertain an audience every day, you should be able to create new content on a day-to-day basis so that you don’t end up boring your audience.
5. Clarity of Speech and Correct Pronunciation: As a radio jockey, when you speak, you won’t want to seem inapprehensible or difficult to be understood. At the same time you wouldn’t want people to be mocking you or young impressionable minds to be catching the wrong pronunciations.
6. Being Expressive and Creative: There will always be chunks of information which would be boring for people to hear but you should be able to create and express it in a nonchalant funny way to get through the listeners without boring them.
7. The ‘X’ Factor: Listeners have a plethora of radio channels to listen to. But to add them to your listenership permanently, you need to attach an identity to yourself for them to hang on to. For example, a certain sort of mimicry, or a lingo, anything quirky out of the box yet entertaining for them to come back to you always.
Rahul Makin mentions that he is only comfortable doing night shows as it matches with his tempo, mood and vibe. He won’t be as comfortable hosting a day show as he cannot match the energy needed. Hence we know our favourite RJ’s X factor – his calm, composed and soothing demeanour.
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How to Become a Radio Jockey (RJ) in India
You can enter this field through any stream in your high school, however, aspirants commonly opt for humanities. After you pass school, you should select an undergraduate program in mass communication, media studies, or journalism to get into radio jockeying.
During and after your graduation, you should intern with radio stations to hone your skills and get an on-ground experience of the job. With such experience in your bag, you’ll be ready much faster to hit the mic.
An alternative route can be to pursue a PG diploma or certification in Radio Jockeying/Video Jockeying/Anchoring or Mass Communication after your graduation in any field. These PG Diploma courses last for 1-2 years.
Some top institutions for mass communication, journalism and radio in India are:
- Radio School of Broadcasting, Mumbai
- Indian Institute of Mass Communication, Multiple Locations
- Apeejay Institute of Mass Communication, New Delhi
- Symbiosis Centre for Media and Communication, Pune
- Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media, Bangalore
- Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, New Delhi
- Craft Film School, New Delhi
- Christ University, Bangalore
- Lady Sri Ram College, Delhi University
- P College for Women, Delhi University
- Madras Christian College, Chennai
- Jamia Milia Islamia, New Delhi
Please note, radio jockeying is not a degree specific career. For instance, RJ Rahul Makin is a literature graduate who further pursued a career in radio because of his quick-witted skills and soothing voice.
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Scope of Radio Jockeying in India
In the profession of radio, the opportunities are not limited to radio jockeying only. In addition to hosting your own radio shows, you can also hold alternative careers in the radio industry, such as that of producer, music manager, copy/scriptwriter, creative engineer, marketing manager, etc.
“When people think of radio, they only think of a Radio Jockey, but there are so many career options inside a radio station. It is almost like any other corporate.” – Rahul Makin
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Pros and Cons of being a Radio Jockey
When asked about the pros of Radio Jockeying, RJ Rahul Makin spontaneously listed:
- You instantly become a celebrity
- You get to play the music of your choice
- You get a fan following
Other than that, you get a lot of flexibility and creative freedom in your job, learn and experiment with different ways of getting connecting with your audience. And we cannot forget the great feeling of knowing that your work has an impact on a mass scale.
With every job comes its cons too. Some of the cons of Radio Jockeying stated by RJ Rahul Makin were:
- Once you are on air, for 3-4 hours you have to be focused, you cannot digress to anything else.
- You always have to keep your emotions in check on the air, even if you have had a bad day.
- Sometimes you need to play songs you don’t like.
Also initially, it takes time some time to actually gain a following and kick start your career as a radio jockey.
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Radio Jockeying is a great career for people who love talking, creating and expressing. As a signing off quote, I would like to mention what RJ Rahul Makin said, “Just be yourself, as you cannot mask yourself for too long. So be who you are and that will take you places.”
View the full interview with Rahul Makin here: