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An afternoon with the “Unseen Voices”

Social animals. That's what we humans are. We love to talk, and we love listening to others talk. That's how we connect. That's how opinions are shared, ideas given birth to and inevitably, arguments given rise to. Debaters are made, and listeners are drawn to them. Even before the advent of all those online blogging sites and public forums, it was the radio that provided the platform for orators and listeners.

Since the first privatised radio station was launched in the mid-90s to present day, the listeners' demography has dramatically changed. It is no more just a news source for elders with defective eyesight; in fact, popular shows on-air are hot topics of discussion among friends. But that's just all about the listeners; there are the people behind the huge success of this sector- Radio Jockeys (RJs) themselves. Extremely talented, attractive personalities and of course a way with words are just a few traits of these wonderful people. This week, we meet Nafeez Imtiaz Karim, popularly known as RJ Nafeez, or just Nafeez bhai, of Radio Aamar and discuss the Big Picture.

A Peek into the RJ World
It would only be proper to begin with a few details, and Nafeez bhai is happy to provide so. “Radio stations announce vacancies, and potential applicants send in their CVs. Background checks are run, and of course previous experience in this field always counts. Applicants are short-listed, interviews are held, and final candidates are enlisted for training, where your communication skills are sharpened. After this, it is just a matter of being slotted for daily live programs.”

“RJs can opt to either work full-time or part-time.”, he continues, “Students who are selected cannot afford to miss classes, so they go for part-time. Full-time RJs have this as their profession, and so would be available at their respective radio stations throughout a typical day.”

What really are the things that radio stations look for in a potential candidate when recruiting new RJs? “It is simply sharp communication skills. While cynics might always think RJs are nothing but chatterboxes on air, it is really an art. The ability to present yourself properly when people cannot see you and will judge you only by your spoken words is a prevalent factor. Sure training helps but you have to have some of it instilled within yourself. This allows you to interact accordingly with your audience's mentalities. That is, in fact, the essence of being a RJ”.

Listeners' Demography
As mentioned earlier, the demography of listeners has dramatically changed. Do our RJs think that's true, and too what extent? “Oh, that's absolutely true” says Nafeez bhai, “The show that I host (named Third Generation), has callers- majority of which are teenagers or young adults. Several years ago or so that might not have been the case. We believe stations are now catering to a diverse audience, and their positive feedback is evidence of their support.”

Teenagers and young adults do extend their support, but how do you really win their support? After all, people do regard them as the 'troublesome generation”. He replies, “We RJs don't really think so. Teenagers face problems, just like people belonging to any other age group, but what they truly require is having those problems sorted and solved out. There are shows that specially serve this purpose, and the RJs who host them are adults themselves. Since we have passed our teenage years already, listeners' problems do feel hilarious at times, but to them it is serious business. You have to talk about problems, preferably if something similar happened in your life as well. You also have to set a proper example for listeners to comprehend the situation. So a proper, straightforward reply on our parts is expected, and that is what we always try to deliver”.

As far as support is concerned, he laughs and says, “We really never how much our audience loved us! It is been a year since I became a RJ, and I was amazed to see people waiting outside our office for hours, with gifts in hand, only to meet us! This is after all, what truly draws a person to being a RJ. Some prefer to do it for the money, some to market themselves to prospective employers, but most, including myself; find it highly rewarding when you find people truly love you, and like listening to you.”

It would only be unusual for a RJ to not listen music at all, but RJ Nafeez does not disappoint us. “Simply put, I love music. It is what really keeps us going and caters to our different moods at different times. The music industry, like the radio, is going through a lot of changes. With latest sound technology being brought in from abroad, and talented sound engineers here, the industry's growing”.

While dispelling the popular notion that Bangla music is not really appreciated at all and it is all about English and Hindi music, he says, “Listening to music is a lot like talking, really. You would prefer to listen and speak the language you are most comfortable with. It is all a matter of taste. When people complain about Bangla being ignored, I personally think they say this while keeping classical Tagore and Nazrul songs in mind. In that case, it is all cultural. But if it is the language they are talking about, then they are mistaken. As I said before, the industry's growing, and genres are being added. That means listeners of different tastes are drawn towards it. A true listener will always listen to any kind of music, after all, no matter how modern music will be, there's always a meaning behind those lyrics; and a true listener will always go for songs that have meaning in them. So, opting for different languages for music is feasible as well”.

That was all about the listeners' demography, but what about the Government? Does its policies accommodate and ensure the success of the radio industry in the long run? “The Government has been very supportive”, says Nafeez, “Its views are highly optimistic about this particular sector, and this is shown by their feasible and comprehensive policies. There are regulations regarding sensitive issues such as religion, but that's pretty much a standard in policies of governments worldwide”.

All, in all, a highly positive feedback from all sides.

Talking with RJ Nafeez proved to be more than just interesting; it was highly informative. The radio industry is one of those rare sectors, which is not compared to its foreign counterparts. The popularity that the radio enjoys is evident that today's generation is not only glued to TV sets or PC monitors, but also to the speakers of portable radio sets. In Bangladesh, radio stations and RJs alike have set an example themselves of how an industry can be taken to great heights within a relatively short period of time. For the greater good, of course.

By Wahid T. Khan
Photo Courtesy: Nafeez Imtiaz Karim

Reign of the metal gods at RCC

The stage of the Russian Cultural Center (RCC) blazed with fury once again as the Metal Gods proved their infinite Reign this past Friday in another heart throbbing concert, presented by Eternal Armageddon. With a tremendous line-up the show was a houseful. There is an old saying “Morning shows the day”. So it was. The bands Chronus and Sphinx gave a good start to such an event. The hosts Eternal Armageddon followed next carrying the momentum along with themselves. Next was the band Apocalypse with their outstanding Metallica covers.

But fans in the auditorium were still wanting more. The stage was then taken by last week's centrefold, Funeral Anthem. Their trademark Children of Bodom covers was nothing less as their record states. Keeping the fact in mind that older and more experienced bands were yet to perform, their own track had to remain a mystery once again in the shortage of time. Mirror Blaze was bang on target setting the stage on fire with their Lamb of God and thrash numbers and the overall crowd response was full of sheer energy, mosh-pits and head-bangings. Funeral Anthem and Mirror Blaze's back-to-back killer performances were one the highlights of the show and brought in wild responses from the crowd. Chromatic Massacre was the next band to perform and they carried out their job with perfection although their luck was missing as there were electricity problems. Following Mirror Blaze was Satanik, one of the more renowned names of the industry, performing their Death numbers with pure satisfaction.

From then onwards the crowd never had to look towards the exit as the headliners were on. First to rock the stage was Mechanix, bringing the Animal to life from within the metal heads, who were already exhausted but the extraordinary performance of Mechanix made no difference to their conditions as the band received more head banging and moshpit-ing at full throttle. The fiery stage was made even hotter as it was then taken over by the living legends of the era, Artcell. Whatever praises are made will always be less. Many members of the audience waited just to see them perform and Artcell did leave no stone unturned. The crowd's expectations were fulfilled with perfection as they were entertained with their most favourites; Onnoshomoy, Dukho Bilash, Kanbari Hushiar and many more.

The evening was then under the reign of the D-Rockstars winner, Power Surge. A guitarist auditioned for the lead guitarist slot but the old “powersurge flavor” was missing. There is no need to say anything about the tremendous all round performance of the band as the full house chanted “Shob adhar sheshe bhishonno chader alo tomar dorjay kora nare…” The final performance of the gig was Severe Dementia. Amazingly even at about 10'o clock at night the crowd did not seem to decrease a bit, showing the serious support that Bangladeshi metal bands enjoy.

All in all the show was a blockbuster, albeit disturbed by typical Bangladeshi load shedding problems but the Organizers are expected to organize more events of such calibre.

By Wahid T. Khan



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