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Radio is not a job but passion for me: RJ Meenakshi

Thanks to their engagement with the listeners, radio jockeys have been becoming the face – or rather, the voice – of the radio station where they work. Perhaps the greatest and original RJ that one can think of is the legendary Ameen Sayani, but of course he is much more than an RJ. Shamshir Rai Luthra held the nation’s imagination with his voice when India was just stepping into the private FM radio space with Times FM. Starting life as an RJ, Roshan Abbas today has ventured out into so many more areas.  

While RJs in the metro cities have got ample coverage in media and other city gigs, there is commendable talent in smaller towns that is emerging. 

One such talented radio jockey is RJ Meenakshi, who hosts the morning show on My FM Chandigarh, called ‘Salaam Chandigarh Show’, from 7-11 am. RJ Meenakshi has been in the news not just for her RJing skills, but also the massive popularity she has garnered in the digital space as well – over 4 lakh likes on her Facebook page, to be precise. She has also been a TEDTalks speaker on two occasions. 

Radio happened just by chance to RJ Meenakshi, when she was just 8 years old. She used to read news like newsreaders. She had no professional training in Radio and further amusing fact was that she even did not know what a Radio Jockey does. In 2006, when a radio station was auditioning for radio jockeys, she participated in an American Idol type audition and got selected from amongst thousands of aspirants. She started her journey with a late night romantic show that quickly gained popularity. 

In December 2009, she joined My FM and has been winning several accolades ever since. She won the ‘Sounds of India’ contest and was the first non-metro radio personality to represent India at the International Radio Festival, where she performed her show, ‘Salaam Chandigarh’ live in Zurich and which was broadcast in 47 countries.  

RJ Meenakshi has also won two major awards at the Indian Radio Forum Awards – Best RJ (Non Metro) and Best On Ground Activation for her campaign ‘Ek Rakhi Fauji Ke Naam’. This is a remarkable achievement, considering that she has had no professional training in radio. 

In conversation with Adgully, RJ Meenakshi speaks about her journey in the radio industry Excerpts: 

Could you take us through your 9-year journey with My FM?
To start with, I would say very honestly that there was no low point during these 9 years. It has been absolutely fantastic and superb. I started off with 2 night shows – ‘Oye Hoye Meenakshi’ only in Chandigarh and ‘Naughty Baate’, which was a pan-India show. With these two genres I used to cater to a very different kind of audience. Both the shows came out really well. I left those shows because I wanted to try out something new. As a person, I am not just a romantic, but also funny, happy, weird, and crazy and so many other things. There’s so much inside me and I always thought that my talent was kind of unexplored. That’s why I shifted to the morning slot and took the biggest risk in my life. Everybody in the industry was of the opinion that this shift would be a huge mistake, because when you shift from one time to another, especially from night to day, it very different and also difficult. 

About 6-7 years back when I started with ‘Salaam Chandigarh’, I was not the in-charge of the show, but gradually I took it to a high point. I was the first non-metro jockey to win ‘The Sound of India Contest’ and also the first non-metro jockey to go to Switzerland and represent my country. Since then I have received many awards. It’s been absolutely phenomenal because you have gone against the tide and still have survived. It’s a dream that I am living in. Radio, for me, is not just my job, it’s my passion. 

How does it feel to be one of the most loved and famous RJs?
I feel like I’m on top of the world. This is what I have been working towards day in and day out. This has been my dream to be famous (laughs) and also be the loved one. When you become a favourite of the listeners, who love to listen to you, it gives you that feeling of being on top of the world. 

What is the latest campaign that you have been a part off?
Recently, we have done a campaign – “Oye Honk Mat Yaara”. Chandigarh was the first city where the traffic police tried to make the city honk free, but as usual, we have this habit of honking unnecessarily. It was very difficult to stop people from honking, but then we started this campaign – Oye Honk Mat Yaara, where we tied up with the Chandigarh Traffic Police, where we used to stand at all the corners with the traffic police and started giving toy trumpets. If they wanted to honk, we asked them to use the toy trumpet rather than using the vehicle’s horn. We did it for one month and after that Chandigarh traffic police issued the report that there was a drop of around 50-55 per cent in people honking. For us, it was a huge win. 

How you view radio as a medium in India?
I really think it is the most happening platform. You can say that I am partial here because I am in love with radio. I believe in radio so much. I think no other platforms can give you that kind of power which radio gives. For instance, if I am driving a car and at the same time I need some entertainment or engagement for that, I can open up my laptop or mobile phone. But radio at the same time gives us everything – be it entertainment, news, music and advertisements. 

Do you think there needs to be changes made in the way the radio platform works?
In my opinion, radio stations in India should work on two things. Firstly, they should start experimenting with music formats. In India, all the stations play the same kind of music, whereas internationally, they have variations. Secondly, I feel there should permission for playing all kinds of music. 

The bond between the RJ and listeners is very important, otherwise you cannot survive. You may be funny and witty as a RJ on air, but these components don’t guarantee a connection between you and the listeners. You have to be a good human being from heart to really build a bond with listeners. 

If not an RJ, what would you have been?
I always wanted to be an actress. But my parents were quite alarmed by that. If not an actress, I would have been a singer for sure. I do an FB Live every Thursday. But I’m trying to fulfil my dreams through RJing only. I’m really happy.

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