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Popular R J | 03 Sep 2003

"The private FM stations stick to the tried and tested, and end up sounding alike."

In continuation with our theme on talking to RJs to understand and find out what makes them tick, we have here the original 'livewire' YURI in conversation with Jasmeen Dugal of exchange4media, discussing the essential qualities an RJ should have, the prospect of chat shows on Indian radio and his experiences abroad.

Q. Tell us about your early days in radio. Have you always been on radio or was it a transition from another profession?

Well, I was in the airforce for a good fifteen years before making a transition to radio. Why? For my bread and butter. I became an RJ in 95 with a fifteen-minute show, slowly graduating into an hourly show, 'Evening Drive Time.' The timing was good. FM was a novelty then; it was in vogue.

Q. You went abroad to study radio. How did it help you?

I was quite serious about RJ as a profession and went to New York City and California to study Radio. This helped me gain knowledge about programming and content, and made my programs crisp and more entertaining in the long run.

Q. What are the qualities you feel a RJ should ideally have?

A RJ should be able to connect with people in the city. FM is very localized. When you talk to your neighbor, you talk about something that concerns him, or concerns the neighborhood in general. Similarly, on FM you are interacting with people on a personal level -one-to-one.

Of course, he or she must have a good knowledge of music. Otherwise no matter how much a RJ empathizes with his or her audience, if the music is bad or does not appeal to their palette, the audience will not tune in to the station

Q. Tell us something about Brand Radio.

I started the concept of Brand Radio. As an example, when Ruby Tuesday wanted to do a promotion, I conceptualized a program that would highlight the place, its differentiating qualities, etc. Similarily when British Council wanted to promote education in the UK, I tailored a program accordingly.

Q. Why do you think all private FM stations sound alike?

Yes, private FM stations do sound alike. This is perhaps because due to all the stations playing the same music; in fact, very often it happens that all the stations are playing the same songs simultaneously. So there is no difference; whether you tune into Red, Mirchi or City, you get the same music.

None of the private stations want to experiment. The bottom line is advertising. Due to the high license fees it is not financially viable for them to dabble in the unexpected and in niche music. At the moment, advertisers are willing to pay heavily for hindi music, which is appreciated by the masses. Because of achieving this mass reach, the private FM stations stick to the tried and tested, and end up sounding alike.

Q. So what are your future plans? Do you see yourself doing something different?

Yes. I want to do a chat show on the lines of Oprah Winfrey. That is something I have in mind. It's a relatively new concept on the Indian radio scene and I intend to explore it

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