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Friday, April 03, 2009

Chatting Up a Radio Jockey

Radio Jockeying has been much in vogue since the air waves opened up to FM. Today the FM channels have in fact moved away from the original concept of 'a tool to keep the suckers awake', and have created new listeners in all the metro cities. In spite of the stiff competition provided by television and the Internet, radio has emerged as a very strong contender. And it is needless to say that the people who ride these air waves are respected and adored by the millions of listeners. A radio jockey, RJ in short, is synonymous with friendliness and courtesy. Waking up in the morning to the warm voice of the friendly radio host; listening to one's favorite numbers being played by him/her as one drives to work, or is on one's way home, or even late at night in an intimate personal space; laughing when he/she is being funny and witty, & enjoying the conversations between the RJ and the callers on air - today's RJ obviously occupies a definite place in our lives.
It is my pleasure to speak to Tonmoy Roy Choudhury, better known as MJ Roy (he uses the prefix MJ - Music Jockey - as opposed to radio jockey, I guess it is the radio station's prerogative), who currently hosts Chill Fatafat , from Monday to Friday , 4pm-8pm , on 94.3 Radio One - 'For the Fatafat Generation....!'
Here is my informal chat session with him:
Q) First let me ask you about the beginnings; how did you become a radio jockey, how did you come to radio?
MJ Roy: My stint with radio began with Radio Mirchi, it was mid-2006.
Mirchi spotted me while I was hosting - a profession I was into the 3rd year then - one of the shows. I was asked to appear for an audition. I got through – but not to the studio. They appointed me as their Radio Reporter – as there was no on-air vacancy then. I served as Mirchi Reporter Tonmoy until May 2008 , when Big FM beckoned and I joined. And left even before I could memorise and differentiate between the lunch-serving pattern every week. I was 21 days old at the station and left due to some professio-personal reasons best known to me! Then – it might sound 'easily' , but not quite – Radio One gave me that one show that I am , till date , the host of – for 3+ months , just.

Q) Did you or do you have any role models / inspirations?
MJ Roy: I did not have any – as I have never had the desire/dream of becoming an RJ.
However, in time, I developed a zing for the thing called – Rjing. I had nourished my grey cells observing the on-air deliveries of the RJ’s of Radio Mirchi , specially – Sree , Deep , Mir, Neel and Arnabi.

Q) What were the teething problems, if any?
MJ Roy: (Laughs) The same to that of any of Brangelina’s babies. Absence of sound knowledge of what to byte, pun intended, and what not.
Actually, less is more on radio, as it is 'the theatre of the mind'. It’s a one-to-one medium. Catch-phrases like these and other radio-theories and hands-on practicals helped adding teeth, supported by few on-air 'you-can’t-escape-them' goof-ups , which eventually has put me in a position where I can confidently say "Cheese" (grins widely)!!

Q) What were the challenges of being part of a new entrant among the FM channels (Radio One), compared to the existing ones?
MJ Roy: It’s your 100 metres in a 4x100 metre relay race which is, maybe, in its second leg. You know, how other competitors have fared so far. We have to accept the fact that the songs, the commercials, and most importantly – the listeners – the spectators of the Radio-Race – are the same. Therefore, the deciding factors are – programme design , on-air content and the delivery of it and the music-policy of the station.
Quite obviously the challenges lay in designing and executing the deciding factors. The designing part is handled by the Programming Director mainly – for Radio One , it’s Shekhar who is also the Breakfast-Jock of the station. The music policy ensured the fact that we play only hit numbers and don’t experiment much with new entries. And finally , the content – once decided what to deal with, I was left with the delivery part – which is really challenging. I had to say 'ayes' when I was rechristened – ROY. And then, building the on-air persona of Roy , connecting to the listeners' psyche and then trying to give them something new every time I speak – it's truly challenging!

Q) How involved do you have to be in the programming or the content design?
MJ Roy: My show is my baby. The contests, the content, certain on-air announcements – all have to be planned properly so that once I go on-air, there’s no chance of a goof-up. An RJ's commitment towards the show should exceed, if possible, the commitment one miss Paris Hilton shows towards shopping even in the time of global economic meltdown. And, while showing one's commitment, one SHOULD know that London is the capital of Great Britain, ha ha ha!!

Q) Please share some your experiences on the live call-in sessions... how prepared do you have to be?
MJ Roy: You can't be much prepared. Period. You have pitched your topic. Now, you know somebody will call up. It can be Parambrata Chatterjee or a pabitra chakladar. You hear a voice. And if you want to know theoretically what might happen next – ask Mr Stephen Hawking to solve this lovely game of permutation and combination and probability. Causes? One topic, many callers, many opinions. Many topics, one caller, many opinions.....

Q) It is indeed evident that apart from the technicalities, which an RJ must always be equipped to deal with, alongwith the malfunctioning and glitches that are part of the transmission, RJs have some serious sweating out to do, and even then, loads spontaneity, humour and sensitivity must be doled out...
MJ Roy: Well, just savour this.. Radio One was promoting it’s frequency – 94.3 by a simple contest. If you have the numbers 9, 4 and 3 in that order in your life , call up the RJ. This lady calls up during my show. Her bank account number has the combo. In order to check if she’s fabricating, I ask her to tell me the account number, right there. She obliges. The numbers are in the required order. But, before I give her the prize, I decide to give her a shock and say – 'now that I have your account number, I'm gonna loot it! BANG – she hangs up. I put that recording on-air with a modest request – "Trust me. I haven't seen 'Aankhen'(the film where the guys loot a bank in a novel manner)....!".

Q) Hey, that was weird...
MJ Roy: It doesn't end there.... the very next day as I was continuing with the same contest, the lady calls up again. She blames the timely demise of the pre-paid validity of her cell phone connection and apologises. We start afresh, this time, with the 7 digit warranty number of a ceiling fan. The 'Dennis-the-Menace' in me speaks out again – "Summer’s approaching. What if I steal the fan?" She laughs her heart out – thanks to a mini top-up (laughs out loud)!!

Q) How much of your programmes' content is scripted and how much is impromptu?
MJ Roy: You can script only the skeleton of your show, especially the monologues. The conversations are 100% impromptu.

Q) On a serious note, what according to you have been the significant changes on the radio programming front?
MJ Roy: That Radio, apart from being heard, can also be seen today – has been the most significant change. At times, radio shows are tailored keeping in mind the possible presence of the RJ amidst his/her listeners. Contests and prizes were there, but what came to the Indian scenario with the introduction of FM Radio was the chance of meeting your hitherto unseen on-air friend.
Plus, the marriage of other infotainment mediums to radio is another point worth a mention. The presence of radio stations as Radio Partners on TV shows , school/college/corporate events and at times in the newspaper has taken its omnipresence to a higher pedestal.

Q) What are the pre-requisites of being a successful radio jockey?
MJ Roy: Inability of initiating impromptu conversations. Absence of sense of humour. To understand that GK means Gibberish Knowledge. And, the musical instinct of playing Himesh Reshammiya – full blast - @ 5:37 in the morning.
If you are bad at or lack any/all of these, you can be a radio jockey. Success – will depend on how bad/worse/worst can you be.

Q) Finally, tell me about your future plans.. where do you see yourself in ten years from now?
MJ Roy: I actually started with stage-anchoring. Moved on to do TV-anchoring and did a little bit of acting. Radio happened suddenly. I wish to continue doing all.
Or, on a lighter note, maybe I’ll be interviewing the kids of the present superstars on radio, just before their debut movie hits Home Theatre systems across the planet.

Q) And any forthcoming appearance of yours we are likely to see?
MJ Roy: I may appear for a tête-à-tête on a vernacular channel before the release of an anticipated film, where I maybe seen in a leading role.

Wow! That's great news, it is usually the voice of the RJ that his fans are in love with, but I am sure that in your case, you will be piling up on fans with your physical presence as well. I wish you all the best, ALWAYS!


Neeraj said...

Radio One has surely been able to carve a niche within a very short time, just months after making its entry in Kolkata. RJ Roy is doing a great job. My best wishes to him. I just want him to feature more in the late night or morning slots when it is convenient for me to tune in.

Satyaki said...

"All we hear is radio ga ga
Radio goo goo
Radio ga ga
All we hear is radio ga ga
Radio goo goo
Radio ga ga
All we hear is radio ga ga
Radio blah blah
Radio what's new ?
Someone still loves you!"
- That's how the classic Queen song immortalised the radio; it's true that radio can never go completely out of fashion if its true potential is perceived & realized.

Cool write-up. Good to know about the inside funda about the RJing business, from the mouth of RJ Roy himself.

iman said...

hi buddy!!!

smart write up. i'm just eager to hear RJ Roy's voice, as i'm outta Kolkata may be it'd take a little time to do so. i liked the sense of humor of Roy's when he's saying what you need to have to be an RJ! :)
All The Best, to Roy, to you ofcourse..........

abhishek said...

Speaking of radio-jockeys, the visual association that I can instantly conjure up are scenes from movies like 'Good Morning Vietnam' and 'Talk Radio', or our very own Indian versions of RJs in films like 'Rang De Basanti', 'Salaam Namaste' & 'Lage Raho Munnabhai'..... ;-)
It seems to be a lucrative career option these days, though it is still not a conventional thing to become an RJ. I enjoyed the stuff that RJ Roy has shared, especially about the pre-requisites. His tongue-in cheek humor "on-air" too would make him a favorite, all the more!

pallavi said...

Wow! Didn't know that Roy is so good looking, yaar!!!

I am aware that Radio jockeying isn't all about talking and hanging onto mike sets, one needs to be updated on a lot of things apart from the music one plays.

Besides being a powerful and responsible medium, radio can connect amazingly well with the listeners, hence this makes radio jockeying very, very exciting. I am sure that the response and the reputation Roy has got as an RJ already, in a short span of time, is hugely encouraging for him!
For the right and talented person, sky is the limit, and am pretty sure that RJ Roy fits the bill perfectly. His popularity would surely gain momentum in the days to come.

saurabh said...

Cool chat! Radio One is a cool FM station that has already made its presence felt, Kolkata being its seventh station in the nation.
Regarding RJ Roy's peformance I must say that he impresses with his inclusion of a certain local flavor, in his conversations which are friendly enough, and easy on the ears!

jaison said...

Way to go, bro! RJ Roy rocks! As does Shekhar (with his suave ways)!
Roy blends humor with his friendly takes, and seems to be well-versed in all three languages (Hindi-English & Bengali).