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Radio has a deep bond with its audience which no virus can break : RJ Palak Khurana, Radio City

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When I started my career in radio years ago, many of my friends who worked in corporate jobs would tell me about ‘work from home’. Everyone, including I, thought that RJs can never do such a thing as working from home.

To most people, radio broadcasting is a very complicated process with mammoth machines in recording studios, sophisticated softwares for editing and a telecom system that is always buzzing with calls from Virar to Veera Desai Road. Setting up a workstation for a Radio Jockey is not as easy as it is for my corporate friends, who can work on their laptops from pretty much anywhere – at home, in bus/train or even in bathrooms (who is looking?)

Radio professionals have shown up for work in the most extreme situations – be it rains, floods, or the unfortunate terrorist attacks on the city. However, the Covid situation is a totally different ball game – coming to office is equivalent to risking the lives of others around you.

Before the government put the city/state/country on lockdown, most radio stations prepared contingency plans. Thanks to timely action and cooperation between the IT Teams and the management, every radio station figured out a plan to keep broadcasting. If astronauts in the International Space Station can call people, radio broadcasting from home was certainly possible

Barring a few minor glitches, we have all been working from home for the last few weeks- something which I never thought would be possible. Cooking, cleaning, washing and Radio jockeying is happening simultaneously for us RJs. As they say, the show must go on.

A few days into this new routine, everyone is getting used to a new normal – where you can actually take a nap in the afternoon on a weekday (shhh!…don’t tell my boss) and when you miss your bai more than you bae.

Radio has never been a bystander, and everyone has come up with innovative concepts to keep the listeners entertained and informed in this once-in-a-lifetime event. All major stations have 

Our station, Radio City, has started ‘Concerts From Home”, which has seen the likes of Arman Malik, Shaan, Raftar, Mika, Neha Bhasin, Palash Sen perform from their homes – probably in their pajamas for our listeners who most likely would be listening in their pajamas too. From regularly highlighting corona virus warrior stories to getting on experts for mental health, immunity, diet, skin, physiotherapy and yoga – you name it, we’ve got it on our shows.

Lockdown is very personal for everyone. I was a little anxious and paranoid in the beginning – away from home and parents in middle of all this uncertainty and ambiguity, I was overwhelmed. However, during my show, I have to tell my listeners to stay calm and positive in these testing times. And this actually makes me calmer and feel better – it is my weird kind of therapy for me.

A lot of people are glued to their screens – on their TVs, mobile phones and laptops. It was even predicted that the internet may not be able to take up so much traffic. In the middle of this, I started wondering – are people actually listening to radio?  Now that no one is on the road, are people actually tuning-in? Radio and Google Maps both seemed like they were being left behind. 

And then we got these findings from research conducted across major metro cities. Home listenership has increased from 64% to 86%. Daily time spent on Radio is 2.36 hours and the growth rate has been 23%. Well, it feels like a pat on the back – sorry Google Maps, radio is sorted and feeling loved even more during the lockdown

Though I miss my studio and talking to people who eagerly answer all the contest questions, we have all found ways to stay connected with our listeners – thank you Facebook for Instagram Live! Doing Instagram Live also gives me a reason to dress up and we have been playing quarantine quiz with a lot of celebrities. While I miss my normal life, this isn’t too bad – I can’t complain.

Times like these are real tests of relationships – whether its interpersonal relationships or the relationship we have with our audience. I am so glad and thrilled to know that that radio and its audience has a very deep bond which no virus can break – this love story will continue!

Till next time, stay safe and keep listening. You can catch me on my show ‘Naughty Palak’ on Radio City 91.1 b/w 12 noon and 3 PM – Monday to Saturday, on Instagam @rjpalakkhurana, and on Facebook @palaknama.

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