Motor mouths

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He is talking a mile a minute. The show is proceeding smoothly. And suddenly…chaos. He is hosting the wrong show. He is at the wrong venue. His head begins to swim… he hears a loud scream.

He wakes up. It was the clock that had struck six. Another panic attack for Darius. He had nearly overslept, once again and relived a nightmare. The next few minutes are spent showering, shaving and engaging in other morning ‘ablutions’ (he loves this word).

He reaches Radio City and runs into a menacing Sunaina, his fellow radio jockey.
Sunaina’s morning was less stressful. She was at the office on the dot, thanks to her internal alarm bell that wakes her up at 5 am. Of course in winter, she gets up when it’s darker and colder prompting her to put on many more layers of clothing, including her muffler to protect her vocal chords. On such days, she can’t avoid looking like an Eskimo.

Once Darius checks in, both get down to basics: checking the songs chosen by the station programmer for their show, what they are going say where, get the business update ready and whether the content is all in place.

And then comes Sunaina’s morning ritual… yelling at Darius. And since he’s late today, it’s a bigger incentive. Not long after that, the clock strikes 7 and both Darius and Sunaina are on air, letting out all the energy they have saved up in the last 24 hours. The next four hours are spent handling the station software and various gadgets, reading messages that come on air and screening the callers to be put on air… and it all happens at the same time.
The show over, the twosome starts working on the next day’s show and plans for next week including research, contacting people, recording sound bytes and editing them. At about 3 pm, both call it quits after a lunch at the Radio City canteen and reach their homes.

Sunaina’s tired and sleeps for about two hours; then gets up and lounges about for at least an hour on her terrace. And then she tunes in to TV for the latest on the stock market (for her next day’s update). Since there’s some more time left, Sunaina’s on the phone yak yakking with her friend and later saunters out of her CV Raman Nagar residence for dessert.

Darius, however, curls up with a book and later drifts off into the land of nod. When he gets up, panic strikes yet again. The clock has struck 6 and he breaks into a sweat. He can’t be late for his show yet again. He looks through the window. Watches the whole world swim by. And suddenly, he realises it’s 6 ‘pm’ not ‘am’.

Welcome to the world of radio jockeys. From generation gap to that leak in the tap, these motor mouths cover them all, including such topics as low-rise lungis.

SHABBEER AHMED, 26 years, Chennai-born
All India Radio
500 + hours of radio programming
Bachelor of mechanical engineering

My voice sounds like stone in the pond… plonk! A smooth plonk! It’s ripples after that. I am an Arien, sounds like alien; I sure am one, because I don’t fit in with existing norms. I have completed my bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering… now you know nuts don’t grow on trees.

I host kitty parties, and on radio – Monday Muse every Monday on 101.3 FM at 5,7 and 10 pm. It’s a mix of pop, rock, retro, hip hop, though I feel only rock is the most complete form of music… you have tempo that can be as soft or as hard and it appeals to people of all ages.

I also do shows for Gyanvani on 107.6 FM, which is an educational radio station, plus Tuesday tunes and Saturday weekend bash for 612 kHz mw for AIR.

I saw the movie Good Morning Vietnam as a kid and thought, hey! this is what I want to do. Besides, I wanted to torture my friends, whether they like it or not, so I also became a VJ for SS Music. During the journey, I became the first-ever RJ to host western music on 101.3 and also hosted over 500 shows as an MC, sharing the stage with such names as Shaan, Kamaal Khan, Devang Patel, Usha Uthup and Rageshwari.

My accent is junta. It’s the guy-next-door friendly accent that can connect with people. Never mind if you are Gottigere Gangamma, Mathikere Muniamma, John Chitra Chengiz Khan Kulfi Lakdi Bond or Lord Labak Das.

I talk what I want, I play what I want, and get paid for it. My idea of feel-good music is ‘on the road rock.’ And my stress buster is music, by-two tea, Harry Potter and the potty. My muse: when god closes one door… jump in through the window. To do is to be, said Socrates; To be is to do, said Plato, and I say, Do be do be do. Music’s my way of life. By the way, Shabbeer means handsome and my ultimate dream is stop dreaming.

SHILPA JACOBIE, 25 years, Bangalore-born
Radio Indigo
200 + hours of radio programming
Masters in communication

My idea of feel-good music is pure Ella (Fitzgerald) any time. Rock N Roll makes me boogie… dancing always makes me feel better when I’m feeling blue or wound up. My muse is anything that inspires me… could be the rain, a poem, a movie dialogue, my dog, my boyfriend’s beautiful brown eyes… anything at all. My ultimate dream is to see the world… be a globe trekker.

I hadn’t tried RJing before and I will try anything that’s different and challenging. I get bored very quickly, so I need to do things that constantly challenge and provide me with new experiences. I’d like to be a travel writer some day, because then I’d have one job and new experiences all year round.

I host three shows on Radio Indigo – Pure Magic Indulgence. It’s a one-hour trivia show from Monday through Friday. Each show is based on a theme (business, environment, science, art). Much of the music played is rap, hip hop, pop and a couple of retro songs.

The Green Room is a one-hour show from Monday through Friday. It’s about being yourself and discovering interesting things about yourself. The music I play on this show is very mellow – a lot of women artists.

Trail Blazing is a one-hour travel show on weekends. I try and talk about places that are off the beaten track like Triund or Orchha. I play a lot of retro music on this show and it’s the show I enjoy doing the most.

What I like about my job is that I get paid for listening to music two hours at a stretch every day. And since I can only be heard as an RJ, I get to be whoever I want to be… although, I have most fun being myself.

Shilpa means ‘sculpture or stone’. I’m a libran and true to my star sign, I love the arts and all things beautiful, though I’m quite unbalanced. But normal is boring, so no complaints.

TRISHA KANJIRATH, 21 years, Mumbai-born
Radio Indigo
120 + hours of radio programming
B.A (economics, political science)

Thirst for knowledge. That’s what Trisha means. Sounds portentous, but that’s me. I want to know everything about everything. Having lived in New Zealand for a while, I have a strong NZ accent, where the e’s are more pronounced. So instead of ‘best friend’ I will say, ‘beest friend’. And my beest friend is the party. I party for three months and hibernate for the next three months. And I am abnormal at times. If the flow’s going right, I go left, just because I have to be different. I am a Virgo, which means people who are ‘practical and overly critical’. I guess I can be that sometimes. My moods don’t swing very often, but when they do, it’s to the extreme.

My voice sounds like… you tell me, I try not to listen. I host Soul Tripping (a one-hour show from Monday through Friday featuring feel good ideas, bizarre alternative career options, stress busters and a lot of feel good music) and Pure Magic Box Office Hits (one-hour show on weekends about Hollywood and books). And I have no previous experience as an RJ. I took up Rjing because honestly, it’s an outlet for my verbal diarrhoea.

My ultimate dream is to be able to afford to travel for 8 months a year – I’d spend the other four months in India. For the one hour day I’m supposed to be working, I’m actually just sitting around listening to music. My idea of feel-good music is Dave Matthews Band, Texas, some R’n’B and some of the Cafe del Mar stuff. My stress busters are movies, books, TV, parties and sleep. My muse? Well, there’s been no masterpiece yet, so I’m still waiting… And I believe in, ‘nothing’ permanent except change.’

DARIUS SUNAWALA, 24 years, Bangalore-born
Radio City 91 FM
2,500 + hours of radio programming
B.A (industrial relations, economics, sociology)

Everybody is curious about my name. Well, I’m from a mixed marriage, my dad is a Parsi and my mom is a Roman Catholic (Parsi-RC cocktail) and both religions lend equal respect to the Persian king after whom I’m named.

I was born on January 5 and that makes me a Capricorn, although I’m quite skeptical about zodiac predictions and horoscopes. I was brought up on my parents farm in Bannerghatta and spent vast amounts of my childhood years speaking to our various farmyard animals and my Round Table of Imaginary Friends (you had to be valiant, interesting and honest to be made member, though riding a horse and wearing chainmail still is the number one criteria). This laid a firm foundation for my future career although my audience has vastly changed… I hope.

I began Rjing at All India Radio in my college years in order to supplement my parents’ huge investment of a monthly Rs 250 in the Get Darius a Life Project. Having once tasted the joys of RJing I was hooked for life and now I co-host Josh 91 with Sunaina and fruitfully begin each morning fighting with her before settling down into playing hit music and talking to and about Bangalore’s issues and people. I also host a talk show on Sunday evenings called Big Mouth (tempted, but I’ll skip the puns) from 6 to 7 pm.

Life as an RJ is loads of fun but there’s also a vast amount of planning, research and design that goes into making a good show. When I am stressed out, the best remedy for me is a weekend trek in the wild alone or a day at the farm with my parents. If you see a stressed-out guy on a trek constantly talking to himself, that’s me. Say hi and stop to chat.

Anjaan Ganesh, 23 years, Thiruvanantapuram-born
All India Radio
300 + hours of radio programming
Bachelor of business administration

I was born as Anjan Ganesh. Changed my name to Anjaan on Jan 1, 2002. I announced it on radio live, on the FM new year’s special programme. Anjaan means ’unknown’ though I am anything but that. I try to host the Totally Insane Thursday Show aka T.I.T.S. (please don’t ignore the ‘dots’) every Thursday on 101.3 FM, 5-6 pm 7-8 pm and 10-11 pm.

I don’t like to claim. But yes I agree, the amount of people I know are far less compared to the people who know me. Lesser-known claims to fame should be theatre, television and loads and loads of MC-ing. And also lots of philandering and gallivanting.

My accent? Don’t have one. Period. Don’t need one. Period. I’m the silent-type. So solpa adjust maadi. What I like about my job? Well, I had a regular job once, but I resigned when I realised it was making me sane. And in radio, I don’t have to spell.

I like music, which isn’t s pain to the ears, and at the same time wont make your eyes water and nose run. My music is basically alternative rock, some retro, R&B, some club music and some Indi-pop. My stress buster is my morning routine… get out of bed, shave, brush teeth, sharpen tongue…

My family is full of workaholics. I’m the only relaxaholic. I kid around a lot, because if I didn’t, listening to myself would drive me right up the wall. I do radio in the evening because I hate mornings. Someday I’ll retire from all this and write a book about all the fantastic things that have happened to me. Then the next day I’ll go shopping.

Sunaina Lall, 25 years
2500 + hours of radio programming
RJ, Radio City
Bachelor of commerce

Garfiled is what I used to be called in school because my classmates thought I had these abnormally large eyes. Big eyes and an even bigger mouth. I love to talk, and much to my mother’s delight, I’ve got a job that pays me to do that instead of running up her phone bill.

RJing took me up, I was taken up with RJing, and after that we share quite an enjoyable relationship. It happened as a sheer accident and ever since, there’s been no looking back.

I host Josh 91 with Darius (7 to 11 am weekdays). First show of the day, first thoughts make your day. That’s exactly what Josh 91 is all about. Very simply we make you laugh and think. Issues that affect you, people that make a difference, business and sports updates that keep you informed, questions that keep you guessing, and fighting that makes you want to join in.

I love just about everything my job offers me. To live in the city I love, to talk about it, the fact that something new and exciting happens every single day, and it’s ‘live’. I love to talk, I love to fight with Darius and I love my show.

And if ever I do get hassled, my stress buster is just sitting on my terrace , which has an awesome view of a lake, trees, birds and simply mind-blowing weather, especially when it rains.

I was 6 years old when I went up on stage and sang ‘stupid cupid’ with my toy guitar, I don’t know what I was thinking, but my philosophy in life has always been, ‘There are 3 kinds of people – the movable, the immovable and those that move.’

HOT AIR
What you get: Rs 25,000-75,000 (full timers); Rs 3,500-10,000 (part-timers)
What you need: open mind, wide range of interests and an ability to think on their feet
What you don’t like, but have to do: play to the gallery
What your resume needs to say: SSLC pass
What you don’t need to do: demos, believe a good voice means a good RJ. Talk to the programming head with a put-on baritone
What else you can do: programmer, VJ, TV presenter/host/anchor

(Published in City Reporter, 2003)