Ayesha Barretto is a name synonymous with radio in Goa. Tune in to Indigo 91.9, Mondays to Friday in the morning and her bubbly and cheerful voice will greet and definitely pep you up. Her infectious enthusiasm is not just reserved for airtime, in person she is even more fun; with her passion for her chosen path coming through clearly. NT KURIOCITY caught up with the multi-faceted and vivacious Ayesha to find out what being an RJ is all about and what it takes to be one
Maria Fernandes| NT Kuriocity
“Music lover, shoe stalker, scuba diver, compulsive hugger, mad dancer, radio host, compere, singer, writer, concert goer, biker, hour juggler and old soul, that’s me,” says Ayesha with a huge grin when asked to introduce herself. Entertaining her listeners with their favourite songs, along with giving background information about artists and the music industry, she also shares her views on various topics with an honesty and sincerity that makes her the girl-next-door; someone you can connect with easily.
“Music is my life and everything I do revolves around it,” she says emphatically keeping you in no doubt about her passion for it. In Goa, Ayesha’s tryst with radio began with All India Radio in 2001 and since then she has moved to Radio Indigo and has her own show which many morning commuters swear by. “Radio was something I knew I wanted to do even as a little girl,” she recalls and traces her journey back to her childhood and her dad. “My dad use to sail and since calling in those days was both very expensive and difficult, he would post a tape with songs and messages for all of us at home whenever he docked. Listening to his voice over the stereo probably triggered my interest in radio.”
Her love for music continued over the years and grew rapidly and it was during her college days at Sophia’s in Mumbai that she got the required exposure to the world of radio. “At the time the FM boom had just started in Mumbai and I got to experience private radio stations by the dozens. More than study, I think I listened to radio! Just don’t tell my folks that! Anyway I interned at a couple of stations while I was there and loved all that I saw, heard and did, even if it meant bringing coffee and tea to the on air talent. After my graduation I came back to Goa and kick started my affair with the airwaves with All India Radio in Altinho.
Speaking about her journey she says: “Like anything else in life, there have been bits of everything. Thankfully however the highs, joys, laughter and love have outnumbered and surpassed the lows, sorrows and tears. The biggest problem I ever had to face was when I first started working at Big 92.7 FM – I had to host my shows in Konkani and talk about Hindi music. My grasp on Konkani was weak and my knowledge of Bollywood even more so! But thankfully I had the greatest colleagues there who became the greatest friends to me. They helped me script each and every single one of my lines in Konkani. The only funny part was that, given that they hailed from different parts of Goa, their dialects varied. And so I would have different dialects and pronunciations through each link of each show! It was hilarious but soon became my USP too!”
It is not all sweet talk that makes an RJ; there is a lot of hard work involved as well. Over time the role of an RJ has evolved and today they talk, share and emote. Their job includes music programming, scripting, presenting radio shows, radio advertisements and often lending voice to audio magazines and documentaries. “In the old days, announcers would talk or address a large number of people but now it is more one-to-one communication and connection with the audience.”
Preparation is a key element for the smooth running of a show and besides following the systems put into place, Ayesha is of the opinion that keeping abreast of current events is also important. “There is an official process put in place from station to station to prepare for a show and it’s normally done with the programming head and producer. But on a more personal note, I just read everything I can get my eyes on – from celebrity gossip to breaking news and even the most random publicised reads, I read it all. It will come in handy sometime or the other!”
Asked what she believes are the requirements for being an RJ, she answers, “For me it would be knowledge of the station you’re applying to, knowledge of the music they play, a feel of what is happening around oneself, a local connect and just being yourself.” Adaptability, focussed approach and a creative bent of mind are also very much required she says and adds: “Creativity keeps you on your toes and it comes in handy when there’s a curve ball thrown at you live on the air. It also makes you strive to better the content of one’s show.”
As an RJ, you are always required to be happy and cheerful, so how do you manage to be enthusiastic all day long, I asked? “Well it all depends on the show you host. One of the shows I host requires me to be more sombre and slightly alluring while the other just requires me to be me. I’m a high energy, happy person on most days because that’s just who I am. And over and above that, I love what I do so it never feels dull or dreary to me. I get to live my dream every day that I’m on air! So how can I not be happy?”
Elaborating on the benefits of being a RJ she says: “Being an RJ has helped me meet so many new, amazing people from different walks of life and from all over the world! It is through their individual stories and experiences that I have learned so much. I’ve also made some amazing friends along the way. From the fact that I get to play music for so many hours in a day and connect with so many people across the airwaves and in person too, to getting to share experiences with people and try out new things every once in a while, my job is simply amazing.”
For those interested in making a career as an RJ are there any institutes for learning the ropes? “Not as far as I know. But broadcast journalism and more specifically, radio, is being included a lot more these days in a lot of mass media curriculums,” she replies. Qualifications may or may not be useful but skills and passion count for more in this profession.
The scope in Goa for an RJ, she believes, is limited given the number of stations here but adds, “From a nationwide perspective however the career prospects are huge! As with any other job, the sky is the limit! Depending on what you bring to the table in terms of creativity and talent and also the city in which you choose to base yourself, the rewards vary.”
Signing off, Ayesha who is also an accomplished singer and emcee says: “Being a part of an industry with erratic working hours is definitely tough but I totally love and enjoy every moment. As I mentioned earlier, it’s not just ‘a job’, but my life.”