TechSparks specialPallavi Ramesh is a celebrity in Bangalore. She will be the master of ceremonies (MC) for Microsoft Canaan TechSparks 2010. She is the host of the breakfast show on 93.5 Red FM Bangalore, Superhits, every morning between 7 and 11. Can you become someone because you had a crush for a celebrity? Yes. Ask Pallavi and the influence Rahul Dravid had on her in becoming an RJ and a celebrated one at that. She started her career as an RJ six years ago with Radio One, another radio FM channel. She is also a VJ for four years and MC for almost a decade since her school days.
In a small chat with Venkatesh Krishnamoorthy, chief evangelist, YourStory, she slowly split the beans on what makes her who she is and how her obsession with Rahul Dravid made her an RJ. Here comes her story...
On becoming an RJ
Radio has been my passion for quite sometime now. There is a story behind why I actually wanted to become an RJ. I was a huge cricket buff. I fell head over heels in love with Rahul Dravid. A new radio station that was launched in Bangalore featured an interview on air with Rahul Dravid for their first anniversary show. Then I thought the only way to meet Rahul Dravid is by becoming an RJ or a VJ. Or you become a sports journalist. My whole and sole purpose of becoming an RJ was to interview Rahul Dravid. I just wanted Rahul Dravid to know that there is a RJ Pallavi who is head over heels in love with him. After being in Radio One for two-and-half years, after pestering them crazy, they had an interview done with Rahul Dravid. Even if I can speak to millions of people on air or on radio, if I am in front of my star, I am dumbfounded. When I met Rahul Dravid for the interview, I was spell bound completely. My boss was standing behind me and saying, “Don’t faint!” My boss was so sure that I was in so much of awe about Dravid that I will not open my mouth. I was just looking at Dravid’s face when he asked me a couple of questions. My boss was telling me from behind: “What’s wrong with you? You are a prime time jock. Talk to him.”
I met Dravid again when the recent IPL happened. This time I made sure that I talk to him. I interviewed him properly and even had a photograph with him. Before I met Dravid, everyone told him: “You have to meet this girl called Pallavi.” When he met me, he asked me, “why is that everybody is asking me to meet you?” I told him, “you are the reason why I became an RJ.” He just smiled at this crazy stalker behind him, signed an autograph, and walked away.
Being an RJ is being real
But once you get into the profession, you fall in love with the profession because it is very live and very natural. There’s nothing secret you can put on air. You are your own person when it comes out on air. It’s not an one-hour show like a TV show. It’s very live. You can’t fake it when you do a show every day for four hours. Radio is a very personal medium. You don’t tend to fake. Only if you like radio as a medium, you can make it as an RJ.
Memorable events as an RJ
Meeting Dravid is one I always cherish. Meeting Ricky Ponting was another memorable highlight. I got to speak to couple of people in Bollywood. That’s a nice thing. My another dream is to interview the Big B. That might happen soon as Amitabh Bachhan loves Red FM in Mumbai. So we are trying to get coax him to speak to Red FM Bangalore. I am keeping my fingers crossed.
My another memorable interview is with Sonu Nigam. Everyone says he is egostic and rude, which is so wrong. He is one of my favorite singers although I don’t know him personally. We were trying all big names in music for World Music Day. I kept calling Sonu Nigam three days continuously through messages, which didn’t work. I tweeted Sonu Nigam that I am a huge fan of his and being a celebrated singer, he should speak to us on World Music Day. Two minutes later, I got a message stating I can get in touch with him directly. The very next day, I had a 25-minute conversation with Sonu Nigam. I would cherish this all my life. He is one of the sweetest singers I have spoken to and was very down to earth. Importantly, he shares his singing secrets with us, which many singers wouldn’t do. He had the guts to do it.
I have done different things with Red FM. I have spoken to underworld dons and people who create controversies. I had spoken to Muthappa Roy. I don’t know when I will get him on air. For one or the other reason, his interview has got cancelled so far. I spoke to Pramod Muthalik also, which people didn’t like. I put his side of the story on air. This is very recent. I had spoken to Agni Sridhar, who was an underworld don. Now he has turned a film maker. He told so much about the underworld, which is very shocking. All these have been memorable as I had done it live.
What it takes to become an RJ
Not every person came become an RJ. You should know how to speak first. Having a sense of timing is very important for an RJ. Anybody can crack a joke but cannot become a standup comedian. So to become an RJ, you should know how to talk. That’s the basic part. You should have knowledge about music and general knowledge. You should know what is happening in the city and you should know what is making news. You just can’t go on air and speak any nonsense. At any given point in time, one or the other person is listening as you speak on radio. Eight lakh people listen at any point. So if you make a mistake, you become a fool in front of eight lakh people. Sometimes, one of them could tell you, “oh! you were the one who goofed up!” The thought of this is very frightening.
You also have to be technically sound. You have more things to do in a studio than just talking. You have to run three softwares, know how to edit, how to record, and discern between what to and what not to put on air. There are certain guidelines. This happens through practice only. You can learn these things but you can’t learn how to talk.
I am anchor for ten years now. From the time I stepped out of school, I am an anchor. This helped me because I was not intimated when I was asked to talk in front of people. Not all MCs can be RJs too. RJing is completely different. For anchoring, you have a live audience and get to know their pulse immediately. So if you make a mistake, you will know immediately. You will not know this if you are an RJ. For an anchor, there is no time limit as to how much you can talk. If you are an RJ, you have to be in and out in 45 seconds actually. But we stretch it to one and half minutes. In that one and half minute, you have to introduce yourself, your station, the song, and give a piece of information what you are doing. Make it sound entertaining. And also make it sound so that there is a recall value. The person listening to you should either frown or smile. The person listening to you should have some feeling.
RJing is not simple
Radio is a passive medium. Nobody sits before the radio. There are a hundred things a person is doing and radio plays at the background. To get the attention of the person who is doing other things and make him understand what you are saying is a difficult task.
Fine-tuning as an RJ comes through experience. You work with a team at the radio station. Not only that your listeners are tuning in. Your bosses and your friends too. They criticize you to the maximum and so you get a feedback once the show is over. Eight hours is not enough to prepare for what you will speak in those four hours. I come on air for only eight minutes in an hour. To decide what to talk in eight minutes, I will take eight hours. Lot of research happens at the background. We as a team sit with the newspapers, websites, everyday. We go through everything that gives us news -- on TV, networking site and even other radio stations. We come up with ten themes that we could do the next day. We then take what pertains to Bangalore, what is entertaining and can be useful to the person who is listening. Then we come to the main topic of the day. We spread that topic across four hours. We then decide what has to be done with the main topic. Then we decide on people who will be ready to talk about it.
I did a show on road widening problem in Bangalore recently. Lot of people came on air to say how life has become difficult due to road widening. Their houses are marked and people are unable to sell their land. They might be asked to vacate their houses anytime and people were scared. The other problem was water. Lot of places did not get water. I put ministers on air, actors on air, mayor on air. I asked the mayor to explain. He went on to say his side of the story. Lot of people had questions for him. I asked him questions on behalf of the citizens of Bangalore. I had reactions from people for mayor’s version. I made the mayor listen to those reactions. Finally, the road widening stopped. So you could make a difference.
Radio shows focus on infotaiment. Information + entertainment.
Three tips for RJs
1. Love the profession. If you are not passionate about radio, there is no point in being an RJ.
2. Do as much research as possible. If someone finds out that what you are saying is not true, imagine the embarrassment.
3. Go live. Don’t use recorded versions at all. Always go live. The thrill of going on air is great.
Into a Montessori school
I always loved kids. Montessori is also a very old dream I had. I always wanted to have a school. I will have a full-fledged school once I retire from radio. Montessori is just a start. We started with Hello Kids along with my partner Vinod. We operate through the franchisee model, i.e., a franchisee school. That is something we love.
Converting passion into reality
This is something to do with money and time management. If you take and keep away more of your earning, it helps. Lot of people are worried if I will end up in a loss. For them, I say I know where I invested the money and know where it will come from. Time management is important. Plus if you manage your money, your dreams can come true. It is not that difficult to achieve your dreams at all!
There ends her story for now. Pallavi shows that although you have a passion or “crush,” it is important to work hard to excel in the chosen profession. Time and money management can help your dreams come true. Young entrepreneurs can perhaps take a cue from Pallavi to succeed.
A note from Venkatesh: Google searches repeatedly showed a myasthenia problem for an RJ Pallavi. It turned out that the Mumbai RJ Pallavi had the speech loss problem before 2007. Like I easily mistook Pallavi Ramesh as having the problem, you could also get mistaken. So I make it clear that Pallavi Ramesh is different from the Radio Mirchi Pallavi that is so much in news on Google searches.
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