| 30 May 2024
Are you Ugly enough for Radio?

That's the first question I ask anyone who asks me if she or he can be an RJ. Now, don't get me wrong! There's nothing wrong in being a good looking RJ. But, who wants to look at you, if you have a great sense of humour and can laugh at yourself. All the fools who think they are good looking end up putting their feet in their mouth while on air or join the prime-time brigade on the idiot box. I remember, this amazingly self-styled, self-proclaimed good looking lady who went on air and proudly declared I am rat-a-tat-a-tot... to which one of the ugliest humourists on air, Jose Covaco retorted, And I am not!... This lady used to actually rehearse her lines before she went on air and sounded like she was in a 9th standard elocution competition…until one fine day sense prevailed and she went off air!

Irrespective of what you are (man, woman, Kamla or alien) remember you need to be yourself on air to be a good RJ. Your individual style is most important for the show you host. And it's equally important that the show you host should suit your style. For example you don't begin your day by eating popcorn do you? (Unless you're a 60 year old kid who's had a deprived childhood.) So, ideally a radio station shouldn't put a Bollywood oriented jock early in the morning just because he/she sounds peppy.

Hence, most of the morning jocks are and should be strong like filtered coffee or at least kadak chai. They should have the beans to talk about the Sensex, the weather and the traffic all in one breath. Ideally, should be a person locally grown and not imported from another city so that he knows how to say gully... in Mumbai, solpa adjust maadi... in Bengaloru and yena machi... in Chennai!  I remember Harsha Bhogle once telling me how he hates jocks who can't say Kasa Kai Mumbai and say Kasaaaaaa Kaaaai Mumbai!  And Asha Bhosle (who should always be referred to as tai or aai and not didi as that khitaab belongs to Lata didi) once commented that she hates these young-lets (like chiklets)who pose the question, Aap ke baarey mein hamey kuch bataiye?... That's as good as Ruby Bhatia asking Muthaiya Muralitharan - why doesn't  he try bowling  faster and why does he spin?!

In short stick to your strengths, if you're Ruby Bhatia and don't know why the ball turns, talk about the weather instead – you can google search that or yahoo search that very easily. And remember the Mandira Meter... of a spaghetti top blouse doesn't work on radio either.

As a programming head the first thing I tried to do was plot a day map according to the Fixed Programing Chart (which is most often a floating one) that would fit the right jock to the right show. Intelligent, experienced, quick-witted and well read – on the morning breakfast show  Bubbly, bouncy, sing song, happy – for the mid-morning show. Lazy, laidback, bollywood centric – for the afternoon. Fast, pacy, racy, raunchy, wicked, wild – for the evening drive time show. And finally, laid back, easy going, chatty – for the night. And occasionally shuffle the pack and bring the night jock to interact with the morning show host…but, unless a deluge like 26-July happens in Mumbai where all the wrong jocks are marooned in office please don't make the afternoon jock do the morning breakfast show. There are more people who die dozing on the wheel than drunk drivers suffering from the previous night's hangover!

Now, how important is training for a jock before he/she goes on air. Let me give you an example. I was in Dubai a long long time ago as the voice of a very good radio station. Unfortunately or fortunately for the Dubai vaasis I was put on air without any training. I couldn't even understand the multi-pronged mouse that was placed in my hand. And the golden words that I first popped on air were, Am I on air?... and then sense prevailed and I played songs without even mentioning my name! Today, when I train jocks for radio stations the first lesson I impart is Am I on air?... say that 5 times when you push the mike pre-sets. Imagine what you would feel if 5 lakh listeners were listening to those words on air. For a better connect, you could place a photograph of an ideal listener – the way you keep your spouse's/girlfriend's/favourite god's photo in your wallet – right there on the sound console. So that it reminds you that you are talking to an individual who's listening to you and not mumbai... as a person – and you definitely don't shout Muuuumbaaai... the way Vidya Balan does in Munnabhai... at 7 in the morning.

I also hate jocks who refer to themselves in the third person. Reminds me of a very famous advertising guru who referred to himself as And AaaaaPeeeee said blah blah blah... and I was left wondering who the ping... is AP???
There's a very thin line between a Wannabe, a Queenbie and a Wasbeen! So, those who are wannabe RJs stop being wannabe. A word of advice for the Queenbie – don't wear high heels to the radio awards ceremony you look fat and ugly! And ironically that is your selling point for radio baby, so don't portray yourself as the hip and happening red, hot babe you just might fall flat on your face!

And now coming back to my original question…are you ugly enough for radio? Close your eyes and ask this question on air. Good morning am I on air?... And then try to get your foot out of your mouth. If you manage to do it irreverently, funnily and enjoy your interaction with your imaginary listeners your ugly enough to be on air! If not, you can always be a p.a.announcer at any of the many railway stations where you can add a little more zing to the lives of millions of local train commuters by telling them, Yah gaadi Churchgate se Mumbai Centre, Mumbai Centre se Dadar, Dadar se Bandra aur Bandra se Andheri in sthanakon ke beech nahi thaambegi! Kyonki yaha gaadi jalad local ahey. Phir milenge kal subah ting tong!...

( His Ugliness Shri Shri Ravi I Yaar... is no more ON AIR and is a P.A. Announcer for the IPL matches in Mumbai! No channel or medium is responsible for his views and opinions – you can follow his advice at your own risk on