President | 01 May 2006
He was among the first generation of the new breed of radio jockeys in India. Shamshir Rai Luthra’s career in radio dates back to the year 1985, when he did his first show, ‘In the Groove’. He was subsequently involved with a wide range of programmes on various channels – ‘Dus se Gyarah’ and ‘You asked for It’ on AIR FM. In fact, Luthra can be credited with starting the ‘Hinglish’ trend in radio presentation with his ‘Dus se Gyarah’. He was also involved with shows like ‘Dial In Hour’ and ‘Dial Out’ on Times FM. Luthra was also instrumental in making Vaishali FM a success. He made a jump from RJ to programme conceptualiser in his stint with 6 O’ Clock FM.
He later presented shows like ‘Aao Khayen Rashiphal’ and ‘Shamshir Rai Luthra Top Hits’ on Red FM. Luthra was also involved with the radio broadcasting business in Nepal.
Besides radio, Luthra has also anchored shows like ‘Goodmorning India’ on NDTV and ‘Public Demand’ on ELTV, and was a stage presenter as well. He has also dabbled with the written word and penned two books – ‘Talk to Win’ and ‘Lazy ways to enlightenment’.
In a freewheeling interview with exchange4media’s Sumita Patra and Pallavi Goorha, Luthra talks about the radio industry and his life as an RJ.
Q. How and why did you venture into radio jockeying?
Ever since I was a kid, I used to carry a radio. My father’s good deeds helped me. As a child I was fond of talking a lot. My uncle had given me a mini Maharaja radio, which became my favourite possession. There is a phrase in Bhagvad Gita, ‘Yad Bhavam Tad Bhavate’ (You become what you believe). I believed in that phrase. I didn’t want to become rich, I wanted to become famous.
Q. You began your career in radio way back in 1985. Much has transpired since then. How do you look at the changes? How do you see the growth of FM?
The growth of FM is tremendous. With a lot of new channels coming up there are a lot of opportunities today. We need good talent to be recognised and good voices too. For me, the concept of reaching out to listeners is important. I have set the example of using slangs and brought regional music and remixes to the industry. Changes happened because I wanted them to happen.
Q. How will you classify radio vis-à-vis other mediums? How do you look at this industry in the years to come?
This industry is going to grow a lot. The revenues are less and there will be more radio jockeys. There will be a lot of radio bluffmasters, too, who know how to reinvent the same music.
Q. You have anchored shows on TV and dabbled in stage presentations, too, along with radio. Which one did you enjoy the most and why?
I enjoyed radio a lot as this has helped me grow a lot. Radio has been my passion for as long as I can remember. Television gave me an opportunity to expand my horizons and the stage still gives me the rush of energy every time I get on it.
Q. All private FM radio stations sound alike. Will programming move to different genres? Can a radio station cater to different audiences at different time of the day by changing the programming?
Yes, radio stations can cater to different audiences at different parts of the day by changing the programming. Also, what I can see that’s going to happen now is a lot of pushing and pulling. The passionate broadcasters would always be popular, they will always choose the radio jockeys that people like listening to. So, it’s always going to be the same band, the same music, the same words, but all those gimmicks will have to be supported by content. So, content will always be the big game.
Q. You play music that someone else has created. What is your credit? How does a RJ add value to programming? How important is the role of an RJ in giving support to a radio station?
My prediction is that talk will sell more than the voice. RJ has to talk well. His music should be rich, different and he should know how to coordinate with the radio staff.
Q. What inspired you to become a writer?
I got tired of talking myself (laughs). On a serious note, I think everybody learns in their own rich way and their own rich time. I believe in reaching out to as many people as I possibly can so as to touch their lives in any viable manner. But I understand that it is not possible for me to do that in person considering the over 100 crore population of India itself and to top it all our busy and constrained lives.
Q. If not an RJ, what would you have been?
I would have been an RJ maker. I would have been the biggest radio programmer in the world. If I wasn’t doing radio jockeying, I would start a radio jockeying magazine, I would do a radio jockey column.
Q. What are your future plans?
The future is in my hands. ‘Yad Bhavam Tad Bhavate’ (You become what you believe).