RADIO jockey Swetta Rao has infectious energy on and off the air. She is a natural chatterbox, someone who does not just love the sound of her own voice but yours too! She has worked with Radio Indigo and Radiowalla (a service that offers a variety of special interest, Internet radio channels for niche audiences). She dived right into radio when she was 17 and even though she is 32 now, in her own words, “Radio is addictive. I shall always be biased because which other medium let’s you connect, talk, hear, speak, emote and doesn’t even need you to look pretty and presentable?”
She is taking a break from FM and the divergent avatars of radio now but the memories linger. The most indelible encounter however occurred when, “A 34-year old man got on-air, spoke about his marriage, his wife of 10 years, his divorce and how the woman, who was once his wife was now with his next door neighbour who also happened to be his best friend! This remains memorable purely for the openness the man brought to the forum and with no inhibitions, he cried, spoke and he smiled. Till date, when I face tough times, I think of him and hope floats again.”
It’s no secret that in India, the FM radio industry has a long way to go. While the American listeners have varied and innumerable avenues to choose from, with an unbelievable number of channels catering to each genre of music – classical, jazz, hip-hop, EDM, alternative, etc, the Indian stations do not even scratch the surface. So will radio in its present form last? She laughs, “Marilyn Monroe said, ‘It’s not true that I had nothing on. I had the radio on.’ It’s been 14 years since FM gained the momentum in India, and I only see it further diversifying. Unlike the global scenario, the Indian radio industry is yet to experiment with formats, be it talk (news and entertainment) or increasing the intelligence of music-driven formats. Hopefully the white elephant (the third phase) shall take care of this for all of us.”
As she moonlights in the food and hospitality industry, she hopes to get back in the swim of things and rule the airwaves again soon.