With more than 300 private FM stations set to launch over the next couple of years in India, recruiting trained radio professionals is proving to be the biggest headache for most big players in the industry.
"There is an acute shortage of radio professionals in the country as there are hardly any institutes giving exhaustive training for working in radio and that poses a new challenge," said Saurabh Bhramar, national programming head of My FM.
My FM is owned by Dainik Bhaskar, one of the country's leading newspaper groups, and has licences to launch private FM stations in 17 Indian cities. It has already launched an FM station in the Rajasthan capital Jaipur.
"I think it is high time that some training institutes for radio professionals came up. Raw talent cannot be of much use to us as the industry is expanding rapidly and there is not much time or scope or in-house training," Bhramar told IANS.
Added Ritu Soni, programming chief of Radio One owned by Mid-Day, another major media house of the country: "Right now we give in-house training to all new recruits for a period ranging from one month to three months. They need that much time and some training before they can go on air."
"There are a number of institutes which claim to be running some short run radio training programmes but they are useless. Most of them are just duping students. The students don't have any practical knowledge, so in-house training for all recruits becomes a must."
Bhramar agreed and said the problem was that institutes claiming to run courses for radio professionals did not have trained faculty. "All that they teach is theory which is of no use when it comes to working in a radio station."
Sensing this desperate need, a group of veteran radio professionals have joined hands to launch what they claim is the first full time radio-training academy of India.
The Academy of Radio Management (ARM) would offer a full-year diploma course for radio professionals apart from a number of short run courses from September this year
"The number of applications received for 90 seats on offer in our institute indicates a huge potential for professional trainers in this industry," said ARM director Simran Kohli.
Kohli, who has worked with popular FM stations like Radio Mirchi, Red FM, Hum FM of Dubai and BBC, decided to chuck her highly paid job in a private FM station a few months ago and plunge into training professionals for radio.
Many of her friends are following her footsteps. "We have about 15 experienced radio professionals as full time faculty in ARM," she said.
"Training radio professionals offers a huge business opportunity as more than 30,000 vacancies will emerge in this industry in the next one-and-a-half years," said Kohli, who is planning to open a number of training centres in smaller cities after Delhi and Chandigarh.