Radio jockeying in the times of COVID-19, RJs are working from home like many other and are going the extra mile to not just provide entertaining music but also bust myths and misinformation and act as a conduit between anxious people and authorities.
Popular jockeys like Rhicha of Magic FM, Sayema of Radio Mirchi and Malishka of Red FM, who have a personal connection with their dedicated listeners, say though work from home has its challenges, a little bit of effort and intent can help calm the panic-stricken public and the ones who are self-isolation as a precautionary measure against the COVID-19 outbreak.
Novel coronavirus cases in India rose to 341 on Sunday after fresh cases were reported from various parts of the country, the Union Health Ministry said.
The death toll due to novel coronavirus infection in India rose to five on Sunday with the Union Health Ministry confirming the death of a second COVID-19 patient in Maharashtra.
The country is observing a 14-hour Janata Curfew on Sunday, as appealed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The PM made a fervent appeal to all Indians to stay indoors as much as possible to avoid getting infected by coronavirus and called for the curfew on March 22 from 7 am-9 pm, saying no citizen, barring those in essential services, should get out of the house.
According to Rhicha, over 100 radio jockeys are working from home pan India against the disease, which has claimed over 13,000 lives across the world.
For this, the Mumbai-based jockey said the company initiated the work-from-home model earlier this week to support the government in the lockdown by facilitating software and technical support required to carry out shows without a glitch as much as possible.
"We came up with alternate arrangements for people who didn't have laptops and connected them with sound engineers to package shows.
"Radio is a personal medium. As it connects one-on-one, especially now when they are practicing social distancing at home, it's important to have an RJ talking to people," Rhicha, who hosts the weekly 'Magic Lit Fest' show, told PTI.
"It's important to continue a dialogue so that they don't feel isolated during the isolation. We need to stay inspired to fight this pandemic," she added.
New Delhi-based Sayema said her company will start doing shows from home beginning March 23, in which they will focus entirely on busting fake news, rumours, and connecting people with health experts while entertaining them all the way.
The RJ, who presents the weekday 'Meethi Mirchi with Sayema' show, said they got to work the moment her organisation received advisory from the government about social distancing.
All our departments have started working from home. But we RJs are not just reporters or journalists, we are actually friends who connect the people with the authorities. This is the time people would need awareness. They would want to talk to doctors and government officials directly," she told PTI.
Sayema said the need of the hour was to go "micro local", therefore all radio jockeys would come, only as per their show time, and there would be one station engineer at the office.
"We are following all rules necessary to deal with coronavirus but we are still coming to the office. So at one time, there is only one RJ and one station engineer in the office at one point of time. And we follow the protocol such that when one RJ is doing a show, another one won't be in the office. Till the RJ leaves, another one won't come in," she explained.
Mumbai-based jockey Malishka has been working from home since March 17 and since then she has connected her listeners to Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope and BMC commissioner to quell fears and answer pertinent questions about COVID-19.
According to health ministry, the total number of coronavirus positive patients in Maharashtra, which has reported the highest number of COVID-19 cases, has risen to 63.
"Even as we wake up and struggle to accept what's going on, I hope you are maintaining maximum care. You help yourself, you help your world. Also our Health Minister Rajesh Tope speaks to me," she tweeted last week.
The "Morning No 1 with Malishka" host also did Instagram Live with actor Kriti Sanon, singer Neha Bhasin and her fellow "Fear Factor: Khatron Ke Khiladi 10" contestant Adaa Khan to entertain listeners.
"Ah, it's a Sunday! but who's counting? Across India my colleagues and RJ's from @redfmindia will be on-air, all day today from their homes to entertain and hang with you. On-air and online. Stay with us and don't spread rumours. #JantaCurfewPledge," Malishka tweeted on Sunday.
On March 20, Radio Fever tweeted they will be working from home as part of Janata Curfew call.
"#JantaCurfew is what @pmoindia @narendramodi has called for, #RJCurfew is what @FeverFMOfficial has adopted. All our RJs to go LIVE from home."
"@FeverFMOfficial has taken an inspiring intiative on #JanataCurfew. This #RJCurfew will unite people in fighting corona," wrote Modi praising the effort.
Delhi's RJ Stuti said she will go live on Sunday evening from home while adjusting to the new normal.
"As we all adjust to our life indoors and try to make #JantaCurfew a hit. I'll be going live on air on @FeverFMOfficial today 4-5pm from my room who would have thought. Radio knows how to kill distance & loneliness with conversations & music," she tweeted.
Listeners are our foremost priority and this is the time to rise to the occasion, said Sayema.
"The theme of all my shows is fight corona, don't be scared. People are really panicking right now. WhatsApp is filled with information and misinformation. So what people in self-quarantine can do now - they can learn that dance from YouTube, put a video doing those steps on social media. We can enjoy together.
"We also keep reminding our listeners about washing their hands, and play the best of the songs they would love to listen to," she added.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)