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How to be a great RJ

Raj Lalwani | June 06, 2006

The radio industry is set to boom in the near future: 338 radio stations are expected to be launched in 91 cities across the country. Naturally, this will translate into a robust job market.

In Tune into radio, earn up to 70 K, we covered the hot job profiles of producers, music managers and scriptwriters associated with the radio industry.

Here, we tell all you potential aspirants how to be a winner and let your radio show stand out from amongst the rest.

With most radio stations playing the same music -- popular Bollywood songs -- the RJ will be the appealing and drawing factor. "In other words, radio jockeys build the identity of any radio station," says Anish Trivedi, CMD, Banyan Tree Communications and former RJ with Radio Mid-Day and GO 92.5 FM.

Your voice is the key

There's no denying that. But RJing is not solely about a great voice.

"You don't need to have a heavy baritone. Yes, a good voice is certainly an added advantage, but not a pre-requisite," says Hrishikesh Kannan aka RJ Hrishi K. 

"What's essential is that you use the microphone effectively to project your voice. In that sense, your voice should be microphone-friendly," elaborates television and radio anchor Roshan Abbas, who is also the dean of the Encompass Institute of Radio Management.

Voice modulation is a must. Speaking in the same monotone is a strict no-no. If you are efficient at mimicry, that is certainly an added advantage.

Unlike television, radio is not about visual impact but about sound. So an RJ must not only effectively converse, he must knows what sounds good on the microphone and what doesn't.

Learn to communicate

It's not about just playing a few songs. Effective communication skills are essential. "It is the way a station fills in the silence between the music, that goes a long way in building its identity," says Trivedi.

An RJ needs to be fluent in the language he is going to speak in, which in today's times, means an effortless control over both Hindi and English.

Learn to communicate with others since you will be interacting real-time with a large number of people. According to Abbas, those who do well in debates, elocutions and dramatics while at school and college tend to be good at communicating with others.

He adds, "Being an extrovert is an advantage. But then, you never know. There are exceptions who are shy in real life, but find their own identity behind the microphone."

Be yourself

Most RJs do not use a bound script, anymore. The reason being that a few pointers instead of a full-fledged script allow you to sound more natural.

"The script tends to become a wall between the RJ and his listeners. It's all about maintaining a balance. Be relaxed, not laidback Be informal to the right degree. Be pleasant but don't end up sounding fake," advises radio doyen Ameen Sayani.

Adds Divya, former RJ at Win 94.6 and 93.5 Red FM and now an RJ at Aawaz, a Dubai radio station, "You have to enjoy each and every thing you do as an RJ. Only then will the listener have a good time."

"Remember," she adds, "through the medium of sound, you must convey all the other senses to the listener. A good radio programme is one that you can see. A listener must be able to smell the fragrance, see all the hues and feel that he can reach out and touch. That will happen only when you connect with the listener, and for that, you have to be yourself."

Which means, you cannot afford to get stressed out and flabbergasted. As an RJ you may face innumerable irritating callers, mishaps and faux pas. Keep your cool and have the presence of mind to get out of such situations. Learn to take it in your stride.

Most important, do not keep brooding or over the mistake you have made. You cannot afford to lose your faculty of speech because dead air (when there is no sound) kills.

Social relevance?

"There was this RJ who thought that he connected best with his audience on the day he told them his dog died and how sad he was feeling, et al. I would say that is rubbish," says Anish Trivedi. "Your listener has problems of his own, he is not tuning in to listen to yours. He wants to be entertained."

At the same time, the entertainment must have a dash of social relevance. "Underneath the sugarcoating, there must be a strong undercurrent of social relevance in what you say. Avoid being frivolous," says Sayani.

"An RJ controls a listenership that may be as high as 10,000 people. Responsibility is the key. I have even encountered suicide callers on air. A responsible RJ can even change lives," adds Abbas.

Create a portfolio

The key to losing your inhibitions is practice. Practise in front of your friends and family. Record your voice and take someone else's opinion as to how it sounds. Once you are ready, either wait for a radio station to announce its regular RJ hunt, or drop in your CD at various radio stations.

Abbas explains, "The CD must have four different sets of recordings -- a normal announcer's voice, how one reads the news. Then record in your own personal style. Then, if you can, try a few variations."

The recordings must always be short pieces in which you, as an RJ, introduce a song, among other things that you may talk. This conversation that an RJ exercises between two songs is called a link. An effective link is crisp, and lasts approximately for a minute.

The amount an RJ is paid depends on the station. On an average though, it would start at an approximate value of Rs 15,000 and once an RJ becomes established and popular, his remuneration may go as high as Rs 1,00,000 per month.

Part I: Tune into radio, earn up to 70 K!


Can talk? Will RJ

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