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Sriram Sullia on being an RJ in Bangalore

On air, we never use terms like 'we.' And we never say 'you guys.' It's always 'you.'

Morning radio is as ubiquitous as morning coffee. Especially for the commuter, stuck in traffic. For Bangaloreans, the mornings are usually about reaching work on time, with an RJ on-air for company.

That’s where you know Sriram Sullia from. If you’re a Radio Indigo person, chances are you listen to Sullia every morning and he’s an integral part of your life even without realising it.

We spoke to Sullia about what it’s like to be an RJ in Bangalore. He shared his thoughts about the people, the job, the responsibility and the element of fun.

Everyone can talk, but only few can be RJs. We find out what the ‘X factor’ is, that allows a guy sitting in a studio with headphones and a microphone to connect with a wide spectrum of listeners on a personal level.

Q:  How do you explain the one-on-one relationship that an RJ has with the listener?

Very personal. Radio as a medium is such that although you’re broadcasting to a lot of people, from my perspective, I’m talking to each one of them personally. On air, we never use terms like ‘we’ or we never say ‘you guys’, it’s always ‘you’-- that one individual who’s listening to the radio. And because a lot of people these days tune in with their cell phones, they’ve got in their earplugs, they’re driving and listening in, it becomes very personal. Whatever I’m saying goes to him or her individually. Their responses to a call-to-action, to call up, to react, to give their opinion on a few things, how they would face certain situations-- everything is on a one-on-one basis. And a lot of calls that we get are from individuals who have something to say to the radio that they have experienced personally. And when all of that arrives at one forum, it just ends up fun and good entertainment.

Q:  What is that one innate quality that an RJ must have, in order to connect with the listener?
The RJ Just needs to be fun. That’s the whole idea of the game. You’re having fun in front of the mic and that’s the most contagious element that goes out. If as an RJ, sitting in the studio, you’re not having fun, then there’s no way you can expect your audience to be entertained, right?
The RJ also needs to live life to the fullest. There’s no way you can sit inside the studio all day long and have some interesting stories to share with your listeners the very next day. You go out, you live your life, you experience everything you need to so that you’re brimming with some story or the other or some experience that you need to share. So, yeah you just don’t stop having fun. Although there are many people who may say that this job involves a lot of technicalities and stuff like that but it’s no rocket science, you just have fun.

Q: How is the Bangalore radio audience better or worse than audiences in other cities?
I wouldn’t know this to a 100 percent because I haven’t done radio in any other city apart from Bangalore. Right from the start of my career, I’ve been broadcasting here in Bangalore and I feel Bangalore is awesome. The way everyone responds, the way you’re treated, the way people bring in their opinions into the picture and how music unifies each and every single one of them. There are people who may not listen to English music at all but may give you a call on the show to talk about something because they connect with you.
Bangalore, being a cosmopolitan city, is home to people from different backgrounds and professions but still everyone listens in, calls in, offers their opinions. The Bangalore audience, I would say is one of the most intelligent, fun, humorous, they know how to party, know how to have a good time and know how to be responsible at the same time.

People from different countries and cities here in India come back to us asking why not Radio Indigo at so-and-so place? Why can’t we have the same amount of entertainment in another city? So, that being my only gauge, I feel the audience here is fantastic and we couldn’t be in a better place.

Q: Tell us about the funniest/ most interesting conversation that you’ve had?
It would be hard to pick. In the evenings we have Dr. Sham, who is an in-house psychiatrist. He does a show called Heartline 91.9 and he does a lot of... I wouldn’t say counselling, but he talks about life, gives suggestions, recommends a therapist if one needs it. So, a lot of people have told me that my voice is very similar to Dr. Sham’s. And I get a lot of phone calls in the morning, asking me for suggestions and help on one’s love life and so on and sometimes I do take them for a ride and give them all sorts of false therapy.

There have been a few interesting phone calls but now I’ve reduced that because a lot of serious topics are being spoken about on Heartline, so I quickly give them Dr. Sham’s no. But there have been interesting conversations where I’ve got some random phone calls from people wanting to reach someone else and then it would just take another direction altogether. I call it Sriram’s Lounge although it’s not much of a therapy place.