The COVID-19 pandemic and the Movement Control Order (MCO) enforced to contain its spread has undone many "norms" previously thought impossible.

For example, we always think of radio jockeys as sitting in a studio filled with consoles with as many (if not more) controls as a flight cockpit, and interacting with listeners with a headphone on.

However, this pandemic has got radio jockeys, including from your favourite Tamil radio station RAAGA, entertaining listeners from the comfort of their own homes, due to social distancing concerns.

Astro recently spoke to your favourite deejays, namely Suresh, Ahila, Revathy, Uthaya, and Kogulan, to share how they coped with the unprecented change for periods ranging from two to three months, how the dealt with the challenges that arose, and how is life now that they are back in the office.

Working in lockdown

Ahila, who has been in the profession for 10 years, said she relied on Skype to record her slot with her co-announcer Suresh.

Although there were challenges in terms of ensuring precise timing, good coordination with her colleague and a stable internet connection overcame that issue.

"On the personal side, I focused on practising a healthy lifestyle, such as consuming healthy food, exercising, taking care of my skin, and more. Working from home has made me realize that I can still enjoy myself while being at home, working. I also learned to do some savings," she said.

Her co-host Suresh said he generally felt "uncomfortable" working from home, due to internet connectivity issues, among others.

Another challenge he faced was weight gain, which he "managed". He also picked up some gardening skills and "invented" some new Western dishes while working from home.

As for Revathy, who has a been a radio jockey for 17 years, working from home was almost as good as operating from the studio.

"I used my bedroom as my recording studio and used my phone for recording purposes due to lack of equipment. I was able to be as productive and efficient as I used to, at the studio.

"The first week was a bit difficult as my son and my pet always disturbed me when I recorded for my talk sets, but he eventually adapted to the situation and in fact, cooperated well, which eased my tasks."

Radio veteran Uthaya said he learnt some new "skills" during the MCO, such as editing, video shooting and many more.

He is proud that RAAGA managed to put out good content despite the limited resources.

"The MCO made me stronger, more disciplined, proactive and I ventured into new things. It also taught me not to take things for granted and to count my blessings."

Kogulan, who is the "baby" of the lot, with just two years deejaying experience under his belt, managed to weather the challenge by setting up a "mini studio" at home with simple equipments, such as microphone.

Operating from home had also taught him to announce more fluently, without mistakes, especially when he is on air, he said.

Life In the New Normal

Now that the COVID-19 situation in the country has come under control and many sectors being reopened for business, the majority of our deejays cherished being back in the studio.

It has taught Ahila the importance of having the right work life balance, and she now appreciates the studio more.

Suresh is overjoyed for being back behind the console, while Revathy faced issues in remembering how to use the system and recalling passwords, in office.

As for Uthaya, he is still getting used to the new norms and standard operating procedures (SOPs) practiced in the office and the studio, and acknowledged that he actually misses working from home!

Kogulan also likes being back in the office better, as he has the necessary "tools" and equipment to turn his segments livelier.

Raising COVID-19 Awareness

Despite their daily busy schedules, the radio announcers also played their respective parts in spreading awareness about the COVID-19 outbreak.

This was done by including more news and topics related to the pandemic being aired in a daily basis, as well as constantly reminding listeners to stay safe by staying home.

Besides, the radio station's social media platforms were also utilized to educate followers on COVID-19 related matters, via short stories, videos and interviews with officials and personnel involved in the fight against the pandemic, among others.

Tips for Aspiring Radio Jockeys

The radio jockeys also had parting advice for aspiring radio jockeys.

The common advice they seemed to have was read a lot and keep abreast of the latest happenings, and do not be ashamed to showcase your talent on the social media platforms available.

"Read, explore and keep yourself updated with the latest news. Also be humble, kind, unique, and work smart," said Revathy.

Uthaya, meanwhile, advised aspirants to "think out of the box, be versatile and keep yourself updated with the industry requirements."

For Kogulan, radio jockey needs to have a lovable personality that extends beyond the studio.

"I suggest being a lovable person on a daily basis. Love people around you and listen to their stories without judgment.

"When you lack a talking point, you can even try to bring up suitable stories that you have heard of before, to make the conversation more meaningful," he said.

"Be mindful of the stories you are bringing up, be a genuine story teller, and narrate the stories in your own way and style."