From listeners sending mirchi bhajjis to what works in the city, Hyderabad RJs open up about their profession.

Life on the airwaves Hyderabad RJs share tales of their passion for radio
Features Saturday, April 16, 2016 - 13:30

Some make us laugh, some entertain us, some give us company when we are stuck in traffic and some give us advice on love and life. Your favourite RJs are not just the voice, but also the soul of the medium. And yes, they are more than just the music they play. As one RJ said, "People can listen to music on their phones or mp3 players. They come to radio because of radio jockeys."  

While the medium of radio has evolved tremendously over the years, what largely seems to have remained unchanged is the role that radio jockeys play. 

With the advent of digital media, some are even considered influential personalities. 

Here's a peek into the lives of some of those familiar voices from the south that you’ll probably listen to today.

Swathi Rayabarapu aka RJ Swathi aka Smiley Swathi- Radio Mirchi 98.3 FM Hyderabad, hosts 'Chill Maro' 

The 23-year-old has been a radio jockey for two-and-a-half years now. Having been born and brought up in the city that boasts of the Charminar, Swathi likes to describe herself as a "pakka Hyderabadi".

Unlike a lot of other RJs, Swathi says she always wanted to become a radio jockey.

"As a youngster, I used to Google 'how to become an RJ" and "what should one do to become an RJ," she says. 

A few years ago, Swathi had finished her graduation and was working in the accounts department of a firm when she came to know about an audition for the position of an RJ. "I gave an audition and was selected from among some 200 people," she says. 

For Swathi, the conversations that spill over from casual on-air mentions into the outside world are the ones that stick to her mind.

Once, Swathi described on air the kind of person she would want as her boyfriend. 

A woman later called and told her, "Amma, if you don't mind, I'd like to tell you that my son is just like you described." Another time, a person drove to the studio and brought her "mirchi bhajji" soon after she had expressed her desire to gorge on some bhajji on her show. 

But, says Swathi, inspired dialogue and spontaneous interactions don’t just happen by themselves. “People think RJing is just about talking. But it is much more than that. There's a lot of work that goes into what you finally listen on air," she says. 

Chaitanya aka RJ Chaitu aka Chatter Box Chiatu- Red FM 93.5 Hyderabad, hosts 'Midnight Biryani'

RJ Chaitu/Twitter

Well, the guy talks. He talks on the radio. He talks at events. He even talks on TV. Talking, as he puts it, is his "bread and butter" and he never seems to have his plate empty. 

The 27-year-old had moved to Hyderabad from Vijayawada to pursue a diploma in animation. 

"I was also working in a call centre back then and used to listen to radio while commuting," he says. That is when he got interested in the medium of radio.  

His initial journey into the world of radio was, sort of, disastrous. He got rejected four times. The first time, he didn’t even make it to the audition round. But he bounced back with equal persistence each time. 

He finally got lucky on the fifth time. He was hired for outdoor broadcasting, and a year later he voiced his first on-air show. For six years now, Chaitanya has been entertaining his audience as they prepare to wrap up for the day. 

"People come to the studio regularly to meet me. Some carry food or gifts, whereas there are some who just want to meet me and spend some time with me," he says. 

While Chaitanya does appreciate the love and affection people shower on him, he also feels the need to draw the line at some point. 

"Conversations can get personal at times. Some ask me if I have a girl friend or when do I plan to get married. I usually shrug it off or give a random answer and put an end to the subject right there," he says. 

Shiv aka RJ Shiv- Radio City 91.1 FM Hyderabad, hosts the breakfast show

One of the most experienced RJs in the city, Shiv has been dabbling in radio for 10 years now. "Radio is my passion. I don't feel like I am working," he says. 

A student of microbiology, Shiv had moved from Guntur to Hyderabad to pursue his research. But along the way, he started freelancing for All India Radio (AIR) for some of its Hindi shows. 

For someone who took an avid interest in cultural activities right from his student days, the shift from a laboratory to a studio was not very difficult. 

According to Shiv, Hyderabad has RJ-driven FM stations. "They (people) can find music anywhere. But they opt for radio to listen to and interact with the RJs."

The same Hyderabad can also be offended if RJs don't keep a check on what they say on air.

“Like humour and stars don't often go together,” he says. "If I crack a joke on a star, like say Mahesh Babu, people will be offended here."

Shiv, who won the IRF award for the Best Breakfast show RJ last year, says that some compliments have stayed him over the years. Once, for instance, director Sukumar, one of his favourite filmmakers, told him that he is a regular listener of his shows and that he too is a fan of the RJ. 

Also read:

Life on the airwaves: Bengaluru RJs on what it's like to have a 'steamy affair with radio'

Life on the airwaves: Kerala RJs on conquering dreams and winning over listeners

Life on the airwaves: 'Sub-standard' content doesn't sell say Chennai RJs

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