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Rise and fall of a radio jockey

Priyanka Joshi  |  New Delhi 

SHOW TIME: One remark by Nitin, the country's most valuable RJ, boomerangs on Red FM.
With a listenership of 1-1.2 million in Delhi alone, Red FM's morning show hosted by radio jockey (RJ) Nitin was the channel's money spinner, before it got embroiled in a controversy.
Reportedly, RJ Nitin's show commanded nearly an average of 600,000 listenership in Delhi. The channel and its RJ got caught on the wrong foot, when the host "made fun" of a community and its people in particular.
While the station maintains that the radio jockey's remarks against the Gorkha community and the Indian Idol winner, Prashant Tamang, were made purely in jest, it clearly didn't go down well with the audience.
As a result, the radio channel had to tender an apology stating: "We have not intentionally hurt the sentiments of any person or any particular community, caste or creed. However, in the event if any inadvertent offence has been caused to the sentiments of any person or community we tender our apology." And its jockey, RJ Nitin, decided to go incommunicado.
"Since Nitin is by far the most popular jockey for the station, he also charges premium advertising rates for every commercial aired and endorsements made, estimated to be atleast 20-25 per cent higher than other jockeys," informed a Red FM source.
For the Rs 300 crore-worth domestic radio industry, which is expected to post a robust growth rate of 32 per cent over the next few years and garner Rs 1,200 crore in revenues by 2010, controversies like this could hit the medium's only revenue source "" advertising.
A source from Radio City said: "On-air publicity is a major driver for any radio channel and popular RJs like Nitin command an extra premium for publicity during their shows.
A channel cannot afford to lose a star performer like him." Red FM is expected to soon re-launch RJ Nitin in another radio show with a newer format.
While radio stations, which advertise and promote various reality television shows and its contestants on-air, encourage their RJs to speak for their favourite contestants, RJ Anant, a popular host on Radio Mirchi who has also worked with Nitin, feels otherwise. "RJs need to be responsible when speaking on a public platform," he said.
Most RJs interlace radio programmes with humour and satire. Taking a stand against misplaced humour, RJ Anant said: "Making fun of any person or community is clearly in bad taste. If one has to crack jokes, he should do it at the expense of oneself."
Certain sections of the radio industry feel that RJ Nitin, who has been taken off the Red FM shows temporarily, could be asked to forfeit his salary (which is around Rs 1.5 lakh per month) in lieu of the present controversy.
"The radio station (Red FM) cannot let go of a high profile RJ like Nitin, but it could get a little serious with him probably, maybe by holding his salary for a period," said an industry source.
RJ Saurabh, a veteran who has been in the industry for more than 10 years, said: "It would be unfortunate to see a station being banned because of an RJ's irresponsible comments. Every RJ strives to convey messages in a conversational style, giving the listener the feeling of a face-to-face talk, and his performance can make or mar the reputation of a radio station."

First Published: Wed, October 10 2007. 00:00 IST