We listen to the radio every day on our way to the office. Most often we end up switching to our favourite channel, host or show. But even then, we forget to think about the hard work the host must have put in to make our everyday journey bearable. One such Radio Jockey who is busy designing our daily commutes is Janavi Iyer.
“People think that all you have to do is speak on the radio. But nobody realises that there’s a lot that goes behind just being audible. Everyone thinks it’s so easy and that anybody can do it,” says Janavi.
Janavi grew up in different parts of the country. Delhi, Pune, Surat, Ahmedabad and finally now lives in Vadodara. A public speaking competition in college led her to get her first job at Radio City, one of the most popular stations in the country.
“Suddenly at 21, I was given this big opportunity with a major radio station. So coping up with that was a big challenge. Coming to terms with living on your own, in a new city and the rest of the RJs had 10-15 years of experience. And here I was, fresh out of college. It took me a little time to grasp it all,” says Janavi.
Since the station decided to become vernacular, and then being a non-Gujarati speaker, she decided to move the Times of India as a Desk Editor. A job that mostly isn’t recognised to the local public who just reads the reporter’s name under the headline.
“I very happily moved to a newspaper organisation. It was a nice enriching experience. Here on the radio, I was talking to women with husband issues. And I was 21 myself! So I was handling more mature topics at one point in time. Newspapers, somehow, came more naturally to me. I had grown up reading TOI and I was ok with giving up my RJ job to enter an arena which gets less attention, which is the editorial side,” Janavi says.
But, ‘what you seek is seeking you’ came true in Janavi’s case. It was after this newspaper stint that she got a job with Radio One, hosting the morning show.
“I worked even after the shift would get over, so I learnt a lot in the process. I knew how every department worked!”
And then, there was no looking back. Janavi then moved to Radio City, Baroda, in 2012. This exposure came in very handy. “I was working in digital, music, shows, and almost everything that happens in a radio station.”
Now, She is a Programming Head with Red FM, where she does what she likes most: talking about current local issues that resonate with her audience. Her initiative “Kaam Chaloo Chhe ” was much popular in the city because of how commonly it affected the next person.
“Anything that is happening locally is bound to strike a chord with my listeners. I love addressing hyper local things on air. I’m a change maker who likes showcasing issues that need attention and are often hidden under the carpet,” says Janavi.
Though the radio space has very little men-women distinction.”It’s one of those industries where I’ve seen more women on top. There’s a very minimal wage gap. Men and women are paid the same amount,” she says.
So, it’s safe to say that any man or woman can be a host during different time slots. And this has nothing to do with gender, but rather their talent. “There’s a lot of experimenting happening. We placed a male during the mid morning hours and women loved chatting with him.”
In the midst of her social message, heading programmes, managing people and finding new ideas to engage the audience, Janavi is also a mother whose day starts at 6.30 am and gets over by 10 pm. According to her, it is because of the support she gets from her family that it’s possible for her to do it all.
“As a working mother, our middle name is guilt. Even if you’re going to the salon, it comes with a lot of guilt because you’re spending that time away from your kid. You have to maintain everything and I like it like that, I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Janavi reiterates while talking about maintaining a work life balance.
So what is the one message she gives to fellow women who aspire to be like her? “Girls shouldn’t shy away from owning space. From expressing themselves or saying their opinions. Because they think their opinion will come out as too harsh. They don’t want to own their intelligence. Just shine out there and rest will follow!”