He is a qualified mechanical engineer. He has a ‘hi-bye’ relationship with Aishwarya Rai. He is a walking encyclopaedia on Bollywood. And he loves to listen to his own voice. Not to mention he’s single and seriously ready to mingle.
Chaitanya Hegde (31) is all of this besides working for Radio City as a radio jockey for programmes like Chow Chow Baath and Route 91. If that’s not shedding enough light on him, he’s a fitness freak (works out at Talwalkars and also indulges in yoga). His friends call him a psycho because he’s unpredictable. Throw a googly at him and he ducks on cue. “My life’s boring, man,” he says. “I have a different image on air… people think I am much older and serious… but I am not, once I get to know the person.”
Hegde never thought he would end up jockeying for position on FM. “I wanted to do a course at the National Institute of Design, but my father’s dictat prevailed and I ended up doing a course in mechanical engineering in Dharwad,” he says. “But I managed to do a two-year-course in marketing and advertising at the SDM Institute of Management and Development in Mysore.”
He was recruited on campus as an accounts executive for Chaitra Leo Burnett (now Orchard Advertising). “This was after one-and-a-half-years of working for Bhoruka Steel in Bangalore as a senior engineer (marketing),” says the Manipal-born. “I came to Bangalore for the first time in 1993 to work for Bhoruka. I came back after my course in Mysore to work for Chaitra where I worked on brands like Coca Cola, Proline and Essilor.”
Come the dotcom age, and Hegde found himself changing track as well. “I worked for Oye India as a channel producer for cinema and careers. Cinema is something I like but careers was thrust on me,” he says. “I worked for about a year and left to join Radio City in 2001.”
He joined the country’s first private radio station two months after inception and has remained there ever since. “I began as a producer of promos and commercials and ended up as a radio jockey in December 2001,” he says. “It was a Kannada show called Chow Chow Baath (coined by him) which is still on air every Sunday between 8 am and 12 noon.”
Along the way, he added many more layers to his show like Neighbourhood Hero profiling people like Auto Raja and Blood Kumar. “For Chow Chow Baath, all the feedbacks are by snailmail… I often wonder how someone can spare their time to write long fan mails to me,” he says.
He’s on air daily courtesy Route 91, a four-hour programme showcasing all things Bollywood, including celebrity interviews with such greats as Aishwarya Rai and Aamir Khan. Now he wants to take his interest forward. “I am writing a screenplay that’s perfect for a regional language film,” he says. “It might sound like a cliché, but it’s a different love story based on the real life story of my friend.”
Essentially a loner, Hegde revels in the company of MAD magazines, world music and Hindi film songs. “My major expense is on buying books, music CDs and VCDs and DVDs,” he says. “And yes, I love watching movies on the big screen. I try and watch every new Hindi film, no matter how rotten, in the first three days of its release.”
I, me, myself.
Chaitanya Hegde, 31
Radio jockey, Radio City
A qualified mechanical engineer
Worked at Bhoruka Steel, Chaitra Leo Burnett (now Orchard) and Oye India
Works out at Talwalkars
Writing a screenplay for a regional language film
Trips on MAD magazines, world music and Bollywood
(First published in City Reporter, 2003)