Radio Jockeys (RJ) are shifting towards creating more digital content as the number of shows on radio decreases.
Bengaluru: Whether it’s a long drive or a short hop from Cubbon Park to M G Road, Ishita loves listening music. Even today her daily dose of popular hits comes from her preferred radio channel.
Ishita says her spirits lift up while listening to RJ Disha Oberoi. She said that the RJ’s social media presence is extremely cool and the content she posts is relatable.
RJs have turned towards content creation on various social media platforms. Radio channels are introducing more shows on their YouTube and website rather than just radio.
Sai Chand, station head at Radio Mirchi Hyderabad said that the functioning of the radio industry has completely changed with the advent of social media. “Nowadays, we have programs and campaigns on YouTube and websites and we are majorly targeting our audiences there,” he said. As an industry, our recruitment strategy is that we pick people who can handle online podcasts and radio shows which are aired on YouTube and website, he added.
Talking about the shows handled by RJs on radio, Chand said that in 2015-16, they had around six to seven radio shows. Now, it has reduced to 3-4 because most of them have shifted on YouTube and website content. “Most RJs have turned towards content creation on social media platforms. As channels, we want that to happen. Interns and new comers should take the digital platforms more seriously that just being an RJ on radio.”
RJ Anoopa, NammaRadio, said that his professional life has drastically changed through social media. “With reels and videos, interactions to audience have become easier,” he said. Anoopa added that as an RJ, it’s important to have a strong social media presence. “People directly come to your Instagram once they hear you on the radio.”
There were times when people used to listen to radio the entire day. Neer Prasad, media researcher from Delhi School of Journalism said that technology has come a long way and now listeners are embracing music apps like Spotify and Gaana more than any radio channel.
These apps have variety of podcasts ranging from horror stories, mythology tales, and motivational talk shows along with a wide range of songs; everything that a listener needs, Prasad added. Somya Sumu, student and ex-intern at AIR (All India Radio) FM Patna said that she got the chance to make podcasts for AIR’s YouTube channel. “In most radio channels, this is a common phenomenon, they hire you for handling digital content but not as an RJ.”
Prasad said, “There are not enough shows on radio that need RJs. They play songs for less than 50 seconds which is followed by a 10 minute commercial break.” He added that the evolution of music apps and premium subscription of Spotify and YouTube have taken over the radio industry.
There are fewer opportunities for beginner RJs as radio channels do not hire them frequently. This is due to the extension of radio industry on digital platforms and dominance of already established RJs on leading radio channels.
Anoopa said that there are limited opportunities for new-comers in the radio industry. “It’s important to be given a chance. The radio channels do not hire any beginner or even for that matter any new RJ in the industry. This is because there already are RJs who have been working for years now,” he added.
Kripa Rajini, producer at RED FM, said that people are very particular of the voices they listen on air. “Radio audiences are habitual of listening to the same voice, same RJ, for years and years. We know our audiences,” said Rajani. She said, “The process of becoming a RJ starts with content creation. One has to produce extremely brand specific campaigns along with taglines and voiceovers to be noticed.”
She also said that aspiring RJs must have a significant social media clout. “They are able to convince the channels better when they have significant followers on social media,” she added.
Chand said that RJ is someone who carries the brand of a channel. Channels do not usually recruit specifically for this role.
Sumu added that there were only four main RJs for the entire channel while she was interning at AIR. “If someone leaves or retires, only then they hire new people; otherwise even after working hard, you just end up being an intern,” she added.
Mostly people who become RJs come to the field after pursuing a degree of mass communication, journalism, and film production.
Devdas Rajaram, media professor at Asian College of Journalism said that the times have changed. Earlier people use to consider RJs as celebrities; they were actually local superstars and used to gain a lot of attraction. “In a batch of 50, only six to seven students actually opt for becoming a RJ because they understand the level of competition in this field as there are so many established RJs already,” he said.