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To be or not to be an RJ?

Well, our mushwara would be one if you have it in you. But exactly who is this RJ? An RJ is someone with vulcanised rubber lips, a tongue made of chewing gum, a brain made from saw dust, a square belly and a tail that glows in sunlight. We mean it. Go and check it out. PJ! PJ!

On the joke side, an RJ or radio jockey is someone whom who hear doing all the putterrputterr on the radio channels. The job is exciting but very challenging too. There will a lot of demand for RJs in the coming years as new channels are coming up. And there is some good moolah too. But it is not that easy to be a blabbermouth on air. You may be an expert talking machine at home or with friends, but going on air is a different ball game.

First, you have to have a nice, warm, sweet, clear, broadcastable voice. What does that mean? Go and listen to broadcasters from different radio stations. Why do find one voice better than the other? There is clarity in that voice, there is feeling, there is a tone and texture, a certain drama in the delivery, certain flow and pace and an overall feel in the voice that touches your heart. Won’t go into the technicalities. That may confuse you. But this is stuff a good voice must have.

Write a few lines as if you’re presenting a show, then record your voice and see how good (or bad!!!) it sounds. Ask a friend to analyse. Are you going too fast? Or slow? You sound squeaky or too heavy? You’re being too theatrical or emotionless? Are you just reading out the words with fumbles, long pauses or are you speaking with your heart in a conversational tone?

There’re many things you can analyse your voice for. You can get the best lessons by carefully listening to a variety of RJs from various radio channels.

But don’t ever do one thing: DO NOT PLAY A MONKEY BY IMITATING THIS RJ OR THAT RJ. Develop your own style and feel.

Even if you’ve a good voice, your hold over language is a top must. Good vocabulary, a chaste accent, correct pronunciation and freshness in your language are the tools you need. Very few have them by birth. So go and work on them if you’re serious. And your language has to be easy and conversational, not literary.

Keep yourself updated about stuff--politics, society, trends, fashion, sports, music, films, personalities and just about everything. If you’ve the info, you’ll never get stuck for ideas on or off air.

Don’t treat yourself like a nonstop talking machine. If you do, risk is you’ll become one. You are the listener’s friend on air who talks sense. But remember, you are also an entertainer. Ensure you don’t bore your listeners. 

Your presence of mind and wit are also critical. So is their use at the right moments. Thinking out of the box is your insurance cover against boring your listeners.

Some of these come with experience, but you’ve got to be working on all these things all the time.

One of the first things you’ll encounter is fear of the mike. But take heart. All broadcasters have faced it when they were starting out. You overcome it with an extra dose of self-confidence. Go and give yourself one or two.

Sometimes people may prick your confidence and tell you that you can’t be an RJ. You don’t have good voice, you lack confidence, your flow is slow and this and that is what they will tell you. Have belief in yourself. Take the criticism constructively and constantly work on your deficiencies. Practice, practice and practice. And enjoy doing it. That’ll make things so easy.

Remember Amitabh Bachchan was rejected early on in his career because of his voice. But he went on to have such a treasured voice besides being a versatile artist.

As an RJ you may have to do a variety of things. Conceive, plan, script, host a show, make announcements, play music with proper linkings, conduct phone-in chats or in-studio interviews, talk to callers, give updates about sports, weather etc. You’ll have to punctuate all this with a lot of entertaining information, tips, jokes and so on. Remember you are an entertainer, not someone who reads out scripts or lectures the listeners.

 As a beginner, script out what’ll go out in your show. Make bullet points of it, just in case you forget when you're on air.

And when you’re on air, be decent and respectful towards your listeners whether you are taking calls or relaying some information or making a joke. 

On the technical side, you’ll have to familiarise yourself with the digital audio console and know how to operate the console on your computer.

So where to start? Our mushwara would be start with the good old Radio Kashmir and its various channels. Get over with this mike shyness, learn some basic scripting and how to broadcast live. Armed with some experience and confidence try your luck in getting into a full-fledged show for doing a segment or a package. You can try private channels as well, but they may not let you go on air since you’re not their staffer. Keep building your experience and expertise and wait for the big break. And we know, you can do it.

One last thing. As an RJ, you’re doing it live. So you can’t take chances with your content or delivery.

We wanted a local RJ to give us some tips. So our reporter Benish Ali popped a few questions to 92.7 RJ Nasir to send us his tips. First he threw a nakhra—“I’m too lazy to write.” Arrae beta, likhna nahin aata tou maetrik shaetik kaisae paas kyae.Ya hammaree tarah maetrik phail, MA pass ho. Finally he went putterrputterr and  gave these phateecher tips:

  • To break in, start doing student programs on the local channel.
  • Keep an open mind. Be versatile
  • You voice is your tool to connect with the people.
  • But a good voice is only one part. You have to be very creative.
  • Stay up-to-date especially about local issues.
  • Make your interactions personalised so that people accept you.
  • If you want to be a professional RJ, a course in  radio production will help.
  • Be sensitive and balanced about your opinions.
  • Title: To be or not to be an RJ?
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