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L.Srikumar Pai
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Career guidance:  jockeying

( Disc Jockey, Radio Jockey or Video Jockey. )

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Kick-start a peppy career in jockeying By PAYAL CHANANIA: Fed up of the tried and tested career paths and looking for something truly exceptional? Even the most off-the-beaten-track options seem pretty staid and orthodox? Desperate to unleash your creative streak – be it by talking or playing music?

If you have a passion for music or are blessed with the gift of the gab, how about experimenting with the intriguing career of jockeying! Cater to the music-crazy generation by expressing your unique style in exciting options like Disc Jockey, Radio Jockey or Video Jockey.

DJing is all about playing different kinds of music for the public to enjoy – be it in pubs, discotheques, private events, social gatherings, and live shows or on the radio. In dance clubs, DJs do everything from spinning records and mixing tracks to blending and scratching to alter the sound of music. Not as easy as it sounds, the choice of music should suit the sensibilities of specific audiences.

RJs anchor programmes on radio where they primarily play music compilations or caller requests while chatting with listeners, conveying messages, interviewing guests, conducting contests/polls and providing information on weather, traffic, music etc.

Here, it is all about connecting with the listening audience and keeping them glued to their radio sets.

VJs operate on television music channels - anchor shows, interviews and otherwise interact with the audience interspersed with popular music videos. Popular VJs strike the right chord and go on to achieve iconic status, hailed as celebrities in their own right.

Jockeying is not just compiling popular music but blending mood with passion in such a way that it reaches out and wins over people. On-the-job practice further bolsters the latent proficiency as you eat, breathe and sleep music!


Jockeying is a very creative field that draws more on talent than educational qualifications per se. While a bachelor’s degree is considered imperative, talented youngsters can even enter with a 10+2.

There are short term (2-12 months) diploma and certificate courses that impart technical know-how about handling consoles, mixing music, beat matching, cueing, equalisation, fading out and other digital music technology. They also teach voiceover skills, proper diction, pronunciation, music appreciation and creative thinking.

Try to listen to lot of radio announcers; work under an established DJ if possible. Keep abreast of the latest releases and changing music trends as part of the job.

Do you have it in you?

Not anyone can become a DJ, RJ or VJ. An ear for music and sense of sound is mandatory. So is a warm, friendly, confident, rational, pleasing, enthusiastic and energetic personality.

A degree of charm and charisma coupled with good sense of humour and creativity will stand you in good stead.

Jockeying on radio or TV necessitates an appealing and vibrant voice, good diction, fluency and command over language along with voice modulation skills to convey different moods.

One should sound natural, relaxed and pleasant without appearing fake, clichéd or even garrulous. Wit and spontaneity is what will set a good RJ/VJ apart from the crowd.

Strong communication skills and presence of mind are essential to handle tricky questions, awkward responses, irritating comments and even verbal abuse. One may even be required to write their own scripts and structure the themes of their shows.

Extensive knowledge of all kinds of music genres (classical, pop, folk, rock, disco, techno) and history behind different songs is another requirement.

An extensive personal collection of music is essential as DJs and RJs often play their own music. They should be able to gauge the mood and needs of the audience and choose genres/tracks accordingly. DJs particularly need innovative thinking to experiment with sound effects and invent something different and interesting.

Jockeys have to be prepared for unearthly hours and long schedules. They should be familiar with all kinds of sophisticated audio/music equipment like turntables, mixers, faders, samplers, drum machines, call equipment, etc.

Another note: Youngsters are mostly preferred (under 35) for their ideas, zeal and passion.

Career tracks

Job opportunities for all kinds of jockeys are on the rise. They are much in demand, given the mushrooming pubs, discos, radio stations and music channels all around us. Private radio stations like Radio Mirchi, Radio One, Times FM, Radio City, Red FM are top employers. AIR holds auditions every 3 months and the selected RJs are given in-house training for two months. Channel V, MTV, B4U, etc. hardly need a mention.

RJs/VJs can do voice-overs for television/radio advertisements, audio magazines and documentaries. They can even move to compering TV shows or live events. Top RJs often start training schools too.

Jockeying is a highly lucrative field with mostly hourly/shift-based salaries. Pay scales multiply with experience and popularity; top jockeys can command high prices and even move to international levels. Finally, jockeying is an enriching experience that takes hard work, courage and individuality to carve a unique style that fascinates audiences no end. It is promising, challenging and thrilling - rest assured, the work will never get mundane!

Payal Chanania

Where to study?

Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC), New Delhi -

Xavier’s Institute of Communication, Mumbai -

Mudra Institute of Communications (MICA), Ahmedabad -

Film and Television Institute (FTII), Pune -

Splinters DJ School, Mumbai -

( Courtesy: )

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