‘We Learnt to be Self-Reliant’: Indian RJs Reinvent and Evolve to ‘New World, New Radio’

With the slogan of “New World, New Radio”, World Radio Day is being celebrated today around the globe and salutes the powerful medium that connects millions of people from small towns and villages to cities, and diverse cultural backgrounds.

Faced with new challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, Indian Radio Jockeys (RJs) are finding new ways and styles of working and evolving along the lines of the theme of this year’s World Radio Day – ‘New World, New Radio’.

From shifting the entire studio to their living room to adapting to working from home and becoming versatile with new skill-sets, the RJs have been doing it all with considerable elan and ease.

Going Live From Home

The pandemic turned out to be a game-changer for RJs who broke out from the four walls of their studios and went live from their home studios.

“RJs usually never work from home. The idea of coming to a work station, curate content and all the technical process was fun. But desperate times call for desperate measures,” RJ Palak Khurana from Radio City tells Sputnik.

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A post shared by Rj Palak Khurana (@rjpalakkhurana)

“We realised that the key to survival was to step up the content curation game and set our goals and make sure it’s well aligned with a vision to evolve digitally,” RJ Palak adds. 

Becoming Self-Reliant

To combat the economic crisis and job loss, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the ‘Self-reliant India’ campaign last year. He interacted with the radio industry experts and urged them to help spreading awareness about COVID precautions to the masses as even radios have gone digital and RJs have been exploring different ways to innovate and connect with a larger audience.

RJ Raunac aka Bauaa from 93.5 Red FM tells Sputnik: “Radio was one thing which was very easy to operate and reach a wider audience living in smaller villages, towns, and cities across the country. It gave us a sense of responsibility when PM Modi interacted with us and asked us to be crusaders not just in spreading correct information and bursting fake news, but also in telling stories of frontline workers.”

The pandemic made the RJs multi-taskers and versatile at the work-front. Raunac also came up with a new digital comedy show, Be Bauaa, last year.

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“We learnt to be self-reliant by instinct and practice. With minimal resources and support, we set up our studio at home. We created our own content, recorded it, edited the show and put it live. We became self-reliant by honing our skill set,” Raunac says.

Digital Video Content and Podcast

Like many other platforms, even radios have gone digital and are exploring all avenues to connect to a larger audience and innovate new content online.

RJ Lucky, who has been hosting the evening show at 104.8 Ishq FM, tells Sputnik: “Radio has adapted itself to the sensitivities of the newer generation of listeners and absorbed newer technologies, reached out to a wider audience and developed a stronger connection.”

RJs are now connecting with listeners not just through radio channels but also via digital platforms by creating video content and podcasts.

“Last year, I got a chance to work on my digital content. Dubbing has been my passion and I used my spare time during the pandemic to work on my digital video content and others to appeal to a larger audience,” Lucky shares.

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RJs, who used to be restricted to working behind the screen, started appearing on the digital platforms, allowing listeners to put a face to the voice.

“Earlier radio jockeys didn’t like to come on screen and show their face to the world. But nowadays, through social media, people know us. RJs, content creators and producers are all trying to make digital content better and ensure equal content distribution digitally and on radio in its original form,” RJ Palak Khurana says.

‘Comforting companion’ in times of isolation

RJ Lucky believes that radio has truly answered a need in testing times, whether during a pandemic or war.

“Radio is and continues to be a comfort and companion to people. Over the years, radio has played a vital role in conveying information in times of distress. And even during the pandemic, RJs have managed to establish a deeper emotional connection with their audience – listening to quirky and fun content from the RJs along with music has helped people to relax and take their mind off isolation and the work-from-home culture,” says RJ Lucky as he signs off.

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