If you live even in a moderately big city, there is no chance that you have remained unexposed to radio voices. The private radio station revolution, which gripped Indian metros in late 2000, has now even percolated into small towns and cities. And this space is ruled by radio jockeys or RJs who command a staunch fan following of their own.

Moderator Sudha Menon sat down three such very well-known voices of Pune for a panel discussion, “Talking their way into our hearts and homes” at the Women Writers’ Fest in Pune. While everyone in attendance knew RJ Smita, RJ Sho Sho Shonali and RJ Tia by their voices, it was a pleasant experience to get to know them by their faces.

A common connect with their listeners

For many radio listeners, these RJs are more than just being entertainers who engage with you through morning, noon, evening and night. What draws listeners to their shows day after day?

RJ Sho Sho Shonali says, “For me there are two reasons. One my content and second my connect with the listeners.”

Shonali enjoys a very strong following on social media and is known for her social initiatives. She says, “Whatever initiative I embrace, my listeners come with me. This has created a connect between me and them.” Which means that whatever she says reaches the hearts of her listeners and vice-versa. “For me all my listeners are equal, be it an MD of any company or a taxi driver.”

But it is not easy to keep this relationship with listeners across days, months and years. It must be certainly hard to sound upbeat, positive and soothing when one is feeling quite the opposite on the inside.

RJ Tia says, it looks easy but there are so many times when you are either not well or feeling very low. She says, “In so many years, we’ve got married, we’ve had children and we’ve had many other problems in life. But that no matter what happens, you’ve to get ready and sit in the studio and do your show. You may be crying but you wipe your tears and do your show because you have a duty towards your listeners.”

But what does it take to get over your personal struggles and prevent your voice from trembling from the weight of your emotions?

RJ Smita shares the secret behind her enthusiasm while on air. “Usually when we do our shows, usually we are alone and there is nobody with us in the studio. So we have to imagine that this is what a person will like, if I say. We are usually advised to keep a photograph of our best friend on our console, which makes us feel like we are talking to them. So to sound genuine to your listeners, think you should be genuinely interested in the person sitting opposite you.”

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On the other hand, Shonali feels that she has this great opportunity to share something with her listeners and why should she share her troubles? “If I share a certain energy with them instead, then perhaps it will come back to me from them.”

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