Changing the Face of Indian Radio Industry
By: Amith Rahul Dated: July 25, 2016
Jonathan Philemon Nitin Brady, famously known as ‘Khurafati Nitin’ loves to entertain people with famous witty humor and heady cocktail of pranks.
Jonathan Philemon Nitin Brady, famously known as ‘Khurafati Nitin’ loves to entertain people with famous witty humor and heady cocktail of pranks. Getting into radio was not his choice but now he rules on radio industry. He always wanted to be an actor, a villain to be precise. RJ Nitin is also India’s most awarded Radio Jockey, with a list of awards counting from RAPA award, the Media Federation of India Award, the India Achiever’s Award for the best Radio Jockey across India 2012, and 2014 for his CSR initiatives on radio which was a unique step for a RJ to take. He started his career with AIR in 1999 where during his audition, he was asked to speak for just 4-5 minutes. But then the auditioners had to come out and stop as he continued nonstop. He then moved to Radio Mirchi , Red FM and now leads the evening show for Fever 104 FM.
In conversation with Creative Brands RJ Nitin shares his experiences in the Radio Industry.
1. How has the journey been for Delhi’s favourite RJ?
The journey has been very adventurous but also very tough. Because you know, since radio was such a small industry we did not have much options! There were always some sort of hurdles waiting for me but then I just say that you cannot taste the sweetness of success till you have gone through lot of troubles in life. Having said that I will not say that I did not get opportunities, yes I got the opportunities and did make the best out of it. One thing that has always stood by me this entire journey is the support of my parents. When I was graduating, most of my classmates wanted to become Engineers and landed with big big degrees in their hand. But I turned around and told my parents that I wanted to act, I want to do theater and later I told them I wanted to do radio. Never have they opposed or had they have any doubts on me. Because when I started with radio 15 years ago, it was not a full time profession for all! But it was a full time profession for few people. The rest of us were given like 3 or 4 shows a month. With the salary I got then, we couldn't live on that because it wasn't a full time career option. And at that point when I said I want to do radio and my parents standing by me, it was a big thing. So I think the journey was sweet and fruitful because of the support of my family and that is really important.
2. What inspired you to become a radio jockey?
Frankly speaking, I never wanted to become RJ. In fact I did not know that RJing was a career option. Actually when I was waiting for my results, my relatives asked me to try out radio jockeying. I just went to try for the kick of it. At first there was a room with a mic there. They asked me to speak for 2 minutes and I went on till 7-8 minutes. That's how my career in radio kicked off. And also I wanted to act as a career, and there wasn't any option in Delhi. For everything we need to go to Mumbai and I came from a middle class background. I didn't have the kind of backing in Mumbai to start off well with acting. I also had some responsibilities to fulfill. So, I decided whatever I had to do I had to stay in Delhi and do. Radio seemed like a really nice option. I just joined a private FM channel because it was lucrative and it was paying well. And I get to do what I used to get scolded for, you know talk a lot and now I get payed for doing so!
3. Being RJ yourself, Which are your favourite radio shows?
A lot of people may not know this, but the moment I sit in my car I listen to religious music. Its not a particular religious music. I listen bhajans, hyms on the way to work. That's my way to relaxing and rejuvenating myself. But if you ask me who would I like to listen to. There is a new girl who joined us Stuti, she comes before me. So I listen to her show. There's a saying in Hindi. "Halwai apne meethai khud nahi khata." Its not that I am not trying to showoff that I don't like anybody else show. I remember Ameen Sayani saab was fantastic as we grew up listening to him and Roshan Abbas off course. If you ask me about my favourite it'll be Ameed Sayani and Roshan Abbas saab.
4. For an RJ, its their voice that gains recognition and fan base. Until for now, audience being active on social media. Do you think the RJ’s of earlier times missed this opportunity?
There are two sides of a coin. One side is that yes social media has made our faces recognisable. Earlier what would happen is, I remember in the early times of my career I was called upon for an event as their chief guest. Those days social networking sites weren't so active like today. So I walked in and I noticed no one welcomed me. They couldn't recognise me. Those were negatives of being a not recognisable face. But now it has changed a lot because of social media. But if you ask me, there is another side of the coin that when the RJ's weren't seen there was also a different charm to it. What used to happen was each person listening to a RJ had a different image of the RJ. They could draw me into any image they wanted and I could be that best friend of them. But now its changed and they know you. Now thankfully I look like Khurafati Nitin with all that tattoos and piercing. I thank god for that. But the funny part is even when we weren't seen I remember listeners calling up and they used to tell us what they thought we looked like. They listen to us and make out how we looked. That was fantastic. In radio you cant see people. That makes it precisely more transparent.
5. Being ‘Khurafati Nitin’ is not an easy job, always happy, cheerful and witty. How do you manage to be enthusiastic all day long?
It is the love of the listeners that got me here. Be it in any profession, if you perform well you will definitely go ahead. But it is the other way around in radio. You need to get the love and appreciation of the listeners while doing well. Because if you don't get that, no matter how well you do the show it becomes useless. I am not oblivious of the fact that wherever I am today it's because of my parents and god's blessings and the love of my listeners. So it becomes my duty and responsibility that every time I go on air I must make sure that who ever tunes in must have a good time.
There are different ways. Recently I started Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) on radio, no one does that. When I started with fever 104 FM I told them that I'll do radio with a difference. I wanted to make sure that whenever I go on air I am helping people in a way.Then I told them I wanted to do CSR which was a big move. CSR was normally perceived to be boring. People never took CSR importantly. My point was radio as a big medium that it could be used to influence people and make a difference. So I decided that I am going to start doing CSR. For example, there were people who committed petty crimes like just stealing a scrap iron so that their younger sister could go to school or people who stole for food. These people were languishing in jail. They had already served their sentences but their sentences were doubled because they couldn't pay the fine. Now the reason they were kept in jail was because they failed to pay the fine and poverty is not a crime. So I payed their fine and got them out. Rehabilitated them, got them a job so that they don't go back to the same stage. I have also worked with HIV+ people who were facing troubles. Recently I have started the 'Ambulance first' initiative where I have tried urging people to give way to ambulances. So those are the kind of things I have started doing ever since I joined. So yeah, I have to be cheerful, chirpy and responsible also and it’s the love of the listeners that I am able to do so.
6. What do you have to tell the budding RJ's of this generation?
I just want to tell them two things, that don't copy anyone. Because I keep a lookout for new people in the industry. Just because someone got successful doing something doesn't mean that you get the same route also. You have to create your own style. Secondly, be honest. Radio is such a transparent medium that the moment you lie, the moment you say something you don't believe in, your listeners will find out and once you loose your listeners they wont come back.
7. Do you think that the entry of Social Media has made connecting with the listeners easy for an RJ.
Yes, it had definitely become easier. Earlier I used to connect with my listeners only when I came on air. Now, because of the advent of social media, there are so many examples of the advantages for an RJ. Recently we had got a free surgery done for a kid who was suffering from brain hemorrhage. I get a lot of such cases through facebook. I get messages at odd hours too. But the positive part of it is that it makes you a real person. I am just not just a voice on-air, I am a friend of them. And which is why my facebook is totally accessed by me, I reply to each and every messages myself. I think definitely apart from the show social media has been real helpful in connecting with people.