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In a journey from radio waves to Instagram's vibrant visuals, a select group of RJs have captured our attention well. Industry players have emphasised that this shift, where RJs transform into content creators, has sparked a profound transformation within radio channels, reshaping both listenership and advertising revenue.

Beyond their on-air charisma, RJs have emerged as brand ambassadors, effortlessly weaving brands into their content and gaining substantial digital exposure. Their captivating live appearances on social media platforms have not only drawn in fresh audiences but also lured advertisers, enriching the content landscape, industry players added.

As this transition gains momentum, it's crucial to explore its impact on creators and radio, assess its long-term implications, dissect the strategies RJs use to engage radio listeners in their content journey and delve into how RJs are enticing fresh advertisers targeting diverse demographics through their new content.

RJ-to-content creator transition shaping radio channels

Viraj Sheth

Viraj Sheth, CEO and Co-Founder of Monk Entertainment, highlighted that the trend of RJs becoming content creators has had a profound impact on radio channels which can be attributed to both listenership as well as advertising revenue.

“RJs bring with them a dedicated fan base, which may often seamlessly transition to their digital platforms. This, in turn, boosts online listenership for radio channels. For instance, consider the case of RJ Malishka, who transitioned into a content creator. Her presence on social media significantly increased her online reach, indirectly benefiting the radio channel she was associated with. This surge in listenership can lead to increased advertising revenue as brands recognise the potential to tap into this extended audience by collaborating with them,” he added.

Kartik Kalla

While explaining how the ascent of Radio City’s RJs as content creators on social media has augmented the channel’s reach and audience engagement, Kartik Kalla, Chief Creative Officer, Radio City said, "Social media has allowed RJs to connect with the listeners much beyond on-air programming hours. This prolonged connection has deepened our audience's engagement, resulting in a stronger bond. Furthermore, our reach has grown dramatically with social media platforms allowing us to influence a more diversified and worldwide audience."

RJs have also evolved into powerful brand custodians, providing seamless brand integrations that garner substantial digital exposure. The visual appeal of RJs going live on social media has attracted new listeners as well as advertisers, enhancing the overall content experience. Furthermore, the rapid feedback loop on social media aids in personalising content to better meet the preferences of the channel’s audience, ensuring Radio City remains vibrant in the digital age, he added.

RJ Salil

RJ Salil, Radio City, said, "The changing media landscape has offered a humongous opportunity to the RJs to reach a wider set of audience. In the past, audiences knew only a few RJs including me, as we had visual exposure through television. We had a head start, but now, with the advent of social media, every RJ across India has built a niche of their own on social media which has helped them create their own identity and increase their social media followers. The RJ influencer phenomenon has been exploding and some RJs have a larger following than film stars on their social platforms."

RJ Nethra

RJ Nethra, Radio City, emphasised that with time, RJs have adapted majorly to the changing media landscape. Some RJs have really leveraged their pluses like good diction, great presentation skills and their massive following on socials is testimony to that.

“We are also in times where a lot of talent hunting happens on social media. Avenues for new talents are plenty. Making use of these platforms smartly and mindfully can open doors for them,” Nethra added.

Sunil Kumaran

Sunil Kumaran, COO, Big FM said that this multi-platform approach has acted as a catalyst to broaden their channel’s reach through campaigns and at the same time render them more effective.

"The strength of radio is its RJs and the local connect they build with their listeners through their shows. For instance, post RJ Abhilash doing shows on OTT platforms, his show ‘Mumbai Ka Sabse Bada Struggler’ has witnessed a remarkable rise in listenership leading it to become one of the most popular shows in Mumbai. All RJs are influencers in their own right and this is evident from the impact Big FM has created through its various campaigns such as BIG PRIDEntity, Ghar Ghar Ang Daata, Dilli Ke Dhakad and many more," he added.

RJ Ginnie

Meanwhile, RJ Ginnie, Radio City, believes that not all RJs are evolving and definitely not at the same speed. It’s taken a bit of time to see how one fits into digital – some have found their niche and some are struggling. 

“Thanks to digital, everyone has a fair chance to make it big and we are seeing that. However, numbers are not going to ensure fame for a long time. Ultimately it is the content that will thrive, so the ones who are on that path will possibly succeed in the long run,” she added.

Anushka Mohite

On being asked, in cases where RJs decide to pursue their content creation journey and quit their jobs as RJs, how will that impact the channels in terms of talent and expertise, Anushka Mohite, Creative Manager, Pollen (Zoo Media), pointed out two main cases. First being, if RJs completely leave radio and pursue content creation full-time, it does affect the listenership because of the loyalty built for the RJ over the years.

Secondly, if they are pursuing content creation in parallel, it usually helps the radio channel to build even more listenership and hence the revenue considering the likability that is formed for the content creator through their social media content.

Monk Entertainment’s Sheth said that when established RJs decide to leave the radio channels, it can definitely create a gap in terms of talent and expertise. Every RJ comes with a unique set of skills, particularly in live communication and audience engagement, which is the reason for their large fan base for which in turn they are valued.

“The established RJs leaving the radio channels can be challenging for the channels to maintain the same level of charm and expertise because the said RJ would bring their own unique personality to a show. However, when an RJ leaves the channels after running successful slots, it can give radio channels a chance to nurture and build new talent in collaboration with a company like ours that specialises in grooming talent in different sectors. For instance, the departure of RJ Naved led to the emergence of new talents in his genre (prank calls), reflecting the industry's resilience in adapting to change. Transitions like these can be challenging but they also present an opportunity for channels to diversify their offerings and adapt to evolving media consumption habits,” he added.

Analysing the long-term impact of radio personalities transitioning to content creation

On being asked about the long-term implications of this transitioning trend Monk Entertainment’s Sheth said, “I personally believe that anyone who has talent can never become obsolete and will sooner or later thrive given the right support and direction. While the traditional role of RJs may evolve, they are unlikely to become obsolete. Instead, they have the potential to reinvent themselves as multi-platform personalities.”

He added that the long-term implications of this trend are dynamic. RJs who embrace digital content creation and adapt to changing audience preferences are definitely thriving even right now. They often bring a unique storytelling style which is distinct from their own personal brand to the digital realm. RJs who adapt to the changing media landscape, embrace digital content creation and maintain their authenticity, can continue to thrive and remain relevant to their audience.

Big FM’s Kumaran believes that RJs are far from becoming obsolete as radio continues to flourish as a medium. The relevance of radio is supported by its ability to understand the pulse of the nation, its real-time nature and mass local reach.

“RJs have played a pivotal role in its longevity by evolving into local influencers, effectively bringing news and entertainment to even the remotest corners of the country. What's crucial to understand is that today's media landscape doesn't confine individuals to a single medium. Thanks to technology and widespread access, one can now showcase their talents across various platforms,” he added.

Pollen’s Mohite highlighted that the long-term implications of this trend are multi-faceted. While traditional radio may undergo changes, RJs can find new ways to thrive in the evolving media landscape.

“RJs have a strong personal brand and they can leverage their online presence to create diverse content, such as podcasts, live streams and YouTube channels. Thus, RJs may not become obsolete but rather adapt to remain relevant in the changing media landscape,” she added.

Radio City’s Kalla emphasised that the trend of RJs transitioning into content creators carries several long-term implications for the media landscape. It signifies the amplification of the roles and responsibilities of RJs, encouraging them to embrace a broader range of content creation skills. RJs who have cultivated strong bonds with their listeners will be in a position to retain a loyal following as they embark on content creation ventures, offering them an added avenue for growth.

“Moreover, the diversification of RJs into content creation has opened up fresh revenue streams for radio stations, such as sponsorships and brand collaborations. This trend has encouraged radio stations to utilise RJ influencers to offer multi-platform content, digital integration, and interactive experiences to remain relevant and competitive in the evolving media landscape,” he added.

Veena Janaj

Veena Janaj, Associate Vice-President - Creator Management at OML Entertainment, believes that RJ's are the original entertainers and they won't ever become obsolete as entertainers, platforms may keep evolving and that's a change welcomed by everyone in the industry. We have seen RJ's become Youtubers, comics, vloggers and even film actors and definite implication of that has been more people being aware of RJs and aspiring to be one.