Exactly how far should a Radio Jockey (RJ) go when it comes to playing pranks on unsuspecting listeners? That’s the question everyone’s asking, even as the shocking death of an Indian nurse in the UK who fell prey to the prank of two Australian RJs continues to hit headlines. Mel Greig and Michael Christian, the two Australian RJs, who posed as Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles and made a hoax call to a London hospital inquiring about the medical condition of a pregnant Kate Middleton, are said to be in “utter shock” and have been pulled off air.
The RJ community in Delhi is divided on the question of how much is too much when it comes to playing pranks. “The RJs should crack jokes at their own expense. The concept of impersonating someone to play a prank is bad idea. In my time I was an invisible friend to the listener, a friend who didn’t misguide or insult. A check is also needed on their language. I would blame the programming head for it,” says Shamshir Rai Luthra, one of India’s first RJs.
Agree RJ Manu and Suhas of Fever 104 FM. “If the show is about humour, it should be achieved by having fun with people and not making fun of people,”says Manu. Listeners feel that these pulling-a-fast-one kind of shows are not cool anymore. “They get too personal at times,” says Nikhil Singha, a college student. Agrees Suruchi Verma, a school teacher. “These shows have become too boring now. They should think of more sensible content,” she says.
RJs who host such prank shows, have their own arguements to defend themselves. “These days everyone has a problem with something, be it a song or a Facebook post. Why are we only blaming the RJs?” asks RJ Simran who hosts a prank call segment on 91.1 FM. “I’ve been playing pranks on people for years now. But we make sure that no one is hurt and we have our paper work right,” says RJ Naved, known for making a ‘murga’ of listeners on his show on 98.3 FM.