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‚Äôll probably listen to today.
Shyam Nair Adat aka RJ Oscar- Radio Mango 91.9 FM Thrissur, hosts 'Thrissur Super Fast Express' with RJ Ranjini
Shyam considers himself an introvert. For a radio jockey, who is expected to talk and interact with people constantly, it may come across as an unusual trait.
"I am not good at talking while making eye-to-eye contact. I need a barrier when I speak," says Shyam, who has been a RJ for eight years now.
While pursuing a degree in law, Shyam simultaneously worked as a dubbing artist, mostly for advertisements and documentaries.
"I had several misconceptions about radio back then. I thought of it in terms of Aakashvani and having to make announcements," he says.
When he went for an audition, what he liked most were the questions asked in the interview.
"They never asked me general knowledge questions. They asked me quirky stuff like the number of contacts of girls that I had saved in my phone. They also asked me to give a nickname to one of the interviewers," Shyam recollects.
He dubbed the interviewer, "a short man with white hair", a "white hedgeboy". Although he thought he‚Äôd gone too far and lost any chance of getting a job after that, three months later he got his offer letter from the channel and joined as a trainee.
Nicknames play a special role in his life. Shyam says he is known for giving funny nicknames to people and his on-air name "Oscar" too is a nickname that stuck to him since his college days.
Organisation policy at his station, does not allow Shyam to publish his photograph on public forums as an RJ. But it is his voice that in a way gives him his identity.
"When people recognise you by your voice, it is a fantastic feeling. Someone once called it (my voice) the 'most beautiful thing'. Also when I am outside, in the market or juice shops, many a times people have just heard my voice and asked me if I was the RJ," Shyam says.
Chinju Madhusudhanan aka RJ Chinju- Radio Mirchi 98.3 FM Thiruvananthapuram, hosts 'Rewind Raagam' from 11am-12 pm on weekdays
"In a way, we are also media persons," says Chinju Madhusudhanan or Radio Mirchi Thiruvanathapuram's RJ Chinju.
Now 26 years old, Chinju has been a radio jockey for almost 3 years. However, before her stint with radio, Chinju was interested in becoming a journalist.
"But after I finished my course, I tried radio instead of TV or print media and got through," she says.
Prod her a little further and she explains, "While radio too is a serious profession, there‚Äôs also enjoyment and fun in it."
Which is why journalism lost her to the world of radio.
While her family has always been supportive of her choices, they initially didn't quite get what exactly she did at work. "People would often ask ‚ÄėAre you a jockey?‚Äô and laugh. Over time they saw me in the papers, and, a few times, on television too. And then they started talking about my show and told my parents about it as well," she narrates.
A self-proclaimed foodie, Chinju calls herself "chubby". So when she hosted an event "celebrating fat" people, listeners, especially women, turned up in hordes for the on-ground activities.
"People usually don't recognise me by my voice. And even though the women had not seen me previously, they instantly recognised me at the event and were so excited to see me. It was a really happy moment for me," she says.
Musavir aka RJ Musafir- 94.3 Club FM Thiruvananthapuram, hosts 'Kabaddi Kabaddi' from 4pm-7pm on weekdays and ‚ÄúPattuupedia‚ÄĚ on weekends
For 30-year-old Musavir, better known as RJ Musafir (people found his original name difficult to pronounce and that's how the latter stuck to him), the journey to becoming a radio jockey was nothing short of struggle.
‚ÄúBeing a radio jockey is a passion for me, a passion that I've had since childhood,‚ÄĚ he says.
A former sales professional, Musafir says he kept trying to become an RJ for 8 long years before his dream came true 2 years ago.
"In the eight years that I tried, I failed almost 8 times. I worked for a couple of years in Dubai and even then I tried auditioning for a Malayalam radio station in the UAE," says Musafir who is currently also pursuing an MBA.
In 2013, he won the RJ Hunt organised by Club FM. "I cleared the interview on my third attempt. In fact, I had auditioned for the same RJ hunt in two previous years but had failed," he says.
Ask him how he felt when his unwavering efforts finally paid off and he says, "While I was worried during the final interview, even if I had not cleared it then, I'd keep trying. During those days, I used to read a lot of self-help books and I stuck to one formula ‚ÄĒ winners never quit and quitters never win. And I learnt something new from every failure.‚ÄĚ
Musafir clearly remembers his second day at his new job. It was a day after Sachin Tendulkar announced his retirement from international cricket. It was evening, he was at the studio. He could see a cricket match being aired on the television. So he gave a few updates, announced the time and logged out.
‚ÄúIt was only later when someone informed me that the match was over in the afternoon and that what I saw was just the highlights that I realised the mistake I had made," he laughs.
The radio jockey believes in recognising where an individual lacks and make up for it. "Some RJs are good with humour and can make people laugh, some are very informative and can speak effortlessly on certain subjects like sports or entertainment, but I lacked these qualities. I was not spontaneous. So I started preparing extensively before my shows. I'd sometime use scripts, at times bullet points, and at times just talk about what's on my mind,‚ÄĚ he says.