RJ Khurafati Nitin is not just mischievous on air. Playing pranks has been a favourite pastime right from childhood. In fact, Khurafati (mischievous) is what his mother called him when he was a child. Little did he know that one day, he would be loved by thousands for being what he is, almost naturally – a khurafati chatterbox.
So, how did it all start? This was about 15 years ago. His friends, relatives and acquaintances suggested that he become a ‘radio presenter’ (now radio jockey of course) or a voice over artiste. He, however, thought it was easier said than done. A theatre lover who wanted to become an actor, Jonathan Philemon Nitin Brady (yes, that’s his real name) was awaiting his BA (honours) final year results when his maternal uncle asked him to apply for All India Radio (AIR). As he recounts, “I, for kicks, went for the audition at AIR. The set-up of the audition was such that the judges were not allowed to see the applicants. They (applicants) were asked to talk on a four-to-five minute speech on an assigned topic. I started talking; my topic was the deplorable condition of Delhi roads. Suddenly, while a lady came barging into my room saying ‘What’s wrong with you? We have been shouting from the judge’s room to stop you.’ Then I realised that I had forgotten to put on the headphone, so I had not heard the judges. The only way applicants were supposed to communicate with the judges was through a headphone and a speaker.”
However, as they say, some mistakes are worth making. RJ Nitin got hired at All India Radio as a radio jockey. As he re-lives that day, he says,“I was jabbering away to glory without realising that I had talked longer than I was asked to. But, the judge’s panel told me that they had finally found the chatterbox they were looking for.”
RJ Nitin has the funniest and longest conversation with people who probably few interact with – house helps, cab drivers, auto rickshaw drivers and strangers.
Radio jockeying is all about connecting to audiences with your voice. FM and radio is a private medium for communicating with people. As RJ Nitin says, “You must think of each individual you are doing the show for, you should be able to talk to a single person in a conversational way, not to a group of people. The listener should feel it is for him/her, instead of referring to a group of audience while talking, you need to talk to one person.”
You should also be able to add something unique to your show. For instance Nitin is known for his prank calls that he makes on air. It started in an interesting way. He had a tiff with his mother and decided to punish her in his own fun way. He called up every relative and every family friend and told them “mom cannot get through your phone, please ring her up”. His mother was bombarded with calls the entire day. “She called me at 7 pm and told me that she had done nothing except for speaking to all her relatives. I was already working with a radio station that time, and thought why not put it on radio, may be it will be fun.” That’s how he started doing pranks.
So, is radio jockeying all about having a perfect voice? The answer is no. To be able to engage people on your show, you need to make efforts to catch what’s going on in the city, what the common people are talking about, especially youngsters.
So, even though he is a senior RJ, Nitin manages to make time for a walk down the crowded lanes of old Delhi, hop on to the Metro for a ride or jump on a public bus as he thinks “that is the only way to get a buzz of what is happening in the city, what people are talking about.”
However, having said so, a good voice is important too. It is the voice of an RJ that conveys emotions. So, how can you make your voice sound perfect?
A theatre enthusiast himself, Nitin feels doing theatre is the best way to tone your voice. It can help you work on your accent, diction, pronunciation and add emotion to whatever you say. The ability to convey emotions on air is important. For instance, if there is tragic news an RJ needs to break on air does not know how to do it properly, he or she might mess up things.
In fact, Nitin thinks doing theatre, too, is the best way to discipline an RJ. “Theatres teach you that everyone on a stage is important. It teaches you that no one is bigger than anyone. It stabilises your ego. It is like being in a theatre – even if someone is standing silently on the stage while the protagonist is delivering a soliloquy, he or she cannot be removed because he or she is adding value to the show in his or her own way.”
The biggest challenge for RJs is to keep their own emotions and challenges aside and have a good time when they are on air. “If your listeners have made that effort to tune in to your channel and listen to you, you should be able to live up to their expectations and make sure they have a good time listening to you,” says RJ Nitin.
Busting the myths of RJying!
- RJs talk a lot: Lot of people think that radio jockeying is all about talking more; listening less. It is not so. That’s a fact. It might sound like an oxymoron. If you don’t listen to people, listeners are going to leave you.
- RJs are always happy: As an RJ, your biggest job is to make people happy. So, no matter how stressed you might be, while on-air, you need to keep all your personal emotions aside and make sure your listeners have a good time
- RJs have a highly lucrative job: The pay depends on the city you are RJying in. However, there are limited jobs in the industry for RJs. But, if radio as a medium excites you, you will be surprised to know that jockeying is a very small section of the industry. In fact, for a team of just five or six RJs, there is a team of about 40 programmers apart from other programme directors, assistants, directors, content producers and others.
- RJs work for three to four hours a day: RJs are on-air for three to four hours; they spend a hectic day preparing for the show, starting with tapping the morning news as early as 5 am. They need to spend lot of time tracking social media trends, conversations of people on the road, to be able to plan a show for listeners.
All you need to know about a career as a radio jockey
Expert gyaan: The best way to become an RJ is to go to a regional station, get experience and then apply with an established channel as most FM channels in the metro cities prefer to hire RJs with work experience.
Lowdown: Radio Jockeys (RJs) need to spend considerable amount of time scanning news channels, reading newspapers, discussing topics they are going to talk about on air. Though FM is still not a medium for spreading political news, RJs need to be aware of current affairs, to be able to respond promptly, if someone calls up on the live show and asks something related to some ongoing issue. They also host guests, usually celebrities, on the show.
Eligibility: Students from any discipline can become RJs. Academic excellence is a secondary requirement in the profession. Basic voice modulation training and knowledge of computers is important for entering the profession. Having hands-on work experience through internships can also help one enter the profession. There is a good scope for theatre artists in the radio industry.
Skills and traits:
- Ability to speak clearly, fluently
- Good command of languages
- Ability to adhere to timelines
- Good knowledge of current affairs and ability to speak impromptu on topics
- Tech savvy
- Ability to keep your personal emotions at bay while hosting a show
- Indian Institute of Mass Communication, New Delhi
- Xavier Institute of Communications, Mumbai
- The Radio School, Mumbai
- Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi
Starting salary: Rs 30,000 onwards
Growth all the way
- The radio industry is enjoying a steady CAGR (2011-2015) of 14.5% and grew by an estimated 15.1% in 2015-to reach revenue of Rs 19.8 billion, says a report by KPMG-FICCI on the media and entertainment industry, titled The Future Now Streaming
- Growth has been driven by both volume enhancement in Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities and an overall increase in ad rates
- Radio’s share in the overall media and entertainment industry pie continues at approximately 4% of the total advertisement market size
- The share of listeners tuning on to radio from home continued to increase. According to the Radio Audio Measurement Survey covering four metros – Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Bengaluru, the share of listeners tuning in to radio from home increased from 77.7% in 2014 to 79.1% in 2015