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Confessions of an RJ: The creepiest calls I’ve ever got!

This popular radio jockey shares some anecdotes that’ll make you chuckle, and others that’ll leave you feeling creeped out

brunch Updated: Jun 10, 2017 23:55 IST
Ginnie Mahajan
Ginnie Mahajan
Hindustan Times
Ginnie Mahajan,radio jockey,Nibhaya
RJ Ginnie Mahajan talks about some of her most memorable phone-ins on the radio.(Illustration by Parth Garg)

Most people have careers but they’re never asked to prove it. However, any radio professional will tell you a sad little truth – at every wedding, party or event, we are subjected to three questions:

“Can you speak in your radio voice please?”

“Please will you dedicate a song on radio for me?”

“Do people really call on radio?”

The first two questions drive me insane, but the third is the one thing that makes radio shows successful: callers. And though I’ve taken thousands of calls in my career, some are truly memorable. Like the ones I’ve described below.

The man who made everyone cry

During a discussion on child abuse, we got a call from a very suave and distinguished gentleman (the kind you don’t generally expect to call in). At the beginning of the call, he said he had a problem. He had two daughters and had never been able to have a normal relationship with them.

On being probed further, he told me – not his parents, not his wife, not his friends, but a disembodied voice on the radio – about an incident in his childhood.

Because of a death in his family, his parents, who wanted to shield him from the grief and rituals of death, sent him to stay in the local gurdwara for a few days. The first night, he was touched. He kept mum. The next night, two men raped him. He didn’t understand it, so he couldn’t explain what had happened when he ran back home.

Unfortunately, his parents didn’t bother to question him, and just sent him back. The next four days, he was constantly abused.

My caller said this in a flat voice. He said he had never spoken about it, but finally felt he needed to. Radio couldn’t see him or reveal his identity and perhaps, that’s why he chose to speak.

The woman who haunts my dreams

One of the easiest topics to do on radio is extramarital affairs. It’s voyeuristic, sleazy and gets a million calls, especially on rainy, romantic days. Amidst all those calls, I heard her voice.

She was half of a perfect double-income-no-kids couple, both busy with their own lives and offices. There was a guy in her office she was attracted to. She tried to resist him, but then came an office trip –four days in the hills. She succumbed and went to bed with him.

Back home, she was besieged with crazy guilt. She tried to cut off ties with the office guy, and then finally resigned from work. But she was still not at peace; she needed to tell her husband. She said her friends warned her against this but she still needed to.

When I asked if she was sure she wanted to tell him and risk her marriage, she said: “Too late, Ginnie. I am in the garden talking to you, and have put the radio on in his room. He is listening to every word we speak.”

Then the phone went dead. She haunts me still…

The horror of surprise

We were discussing the strangest gifts we’d ever received – a pretty mundane topic, I admit.

“A girl, who called in [on my radio show] to chat about strange gifts, sent an elephant with a mahout to my office [as a present]”

In the middle of slightly yawn-inducing calls, a girl asked: “What is the strangest gift you have ever received, Ginnie?”

Nothing worth talking about, I said, and then she said what sounded like a thinly-veiled threat: “Well, now you will always have a story to tell.”

Boy was she right!

The next day at the office, I was called down frantically by the guards. There was a delivery for me. They sounded ominous, and I was worried.

When I reached the parking lot, I almost fell over. There was an elephant – a real live elephant with a mahout on top! I stammered and asked the mahout to take the elephant home. The mahout said he would, but then asked if I’d like a ride home. Everyone around me was hooting, and some people even started feeding the elephant and praying to it.

My face was whiter than white, and the mahout finally found some sympathy. He then handed me boxes of chocolates, books and t-shirts, all sent by the girl who’d called.

The call for advice

A man called to share his story. He was in the army and had been on field postings for a while. Whilst on his posting, he meets a lady with whom he became great friends. In his life, this officer had never had a lady friend, and was completely taken aback with this friendship.

He told us how the two of them could talk about everything in life, discuss their fears, their insecurities; do fun things together. He said he’d never been so open with anyone in his life, and after some time, he fell in love with her.

But the officer was married already. He told us he understood that people would label his friendship as an extramarital relationship and deem it wrong. But he wanted an answer to one simple question: Does everyone not have the right to be happy? If a married person later discovers love and a partnership with someone other than the spouse, should he give that up to conform to societal standards?

This is a question I still haven’t found the answer to.

The betting call

About two years ago, the BBC aired a documentary about the rapists of Nirbhaya and their thought process. At that time, as a random thought, we called AP Singh – the lawyer representing the rapists. We wanted to know that though legally everyone has the right to be defended, how does it feel to defend people with such perverted thoughts? It can’t be easy, right?

When we called Singh, he spewed venom on air. He said things like women who stay out of their houses till late at night are asking for it. They are all cabaret dancers and the rich ones only want to get drunk and be carried home by their drivers.

When we countered him, he bet on air that 90 per cent of our callers would agree with him. That one call went viral. People messaged and smashed Singh from all across the country and the world. This was the first time I saw the power of radio. Finally, Singh had toapologiseon air.

The author is a Delhi-based radio jockey who hosts the morning show on Radio City 91.1 FM

From HT Brunch, June 11, 2017

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First Published: Jun 10, 2017 23:55 IST