Text by Johnson Shrestha
The versatile Alok Thapa is a media personality, show producer, RJ, actor and a freelance writer. After 13 years as an RJ, he’s been through the golden age of radio. Here’s radio in his eyes, then and now.
Alok Thapa, a computer engineer by academics, got into RJ-ing because of his love for music. It was a calling he couldn’t refuse, he says. One of the reasons was Hits FM’s huge library of music back then. It wasn’t as much as for the popularity as it was the love for music, but since he was fantastic at what he did, recognition followed.
I remember listening to some of Alok’s shows when I was a kid. Back then, there was no social media and music streaming apps didn’t exist. Radio was your source of music, and Alok got to enrich people’s lives with it. It was the golden ages! Email was also a novelty, and people wrote to him, came to meet him with gifts! That was one of the perks of being an RJ – but the best part was getting to express oneself in front of the people. Influencing people’s lives and become a part of them. People still appreciate his work of some 10 years ago, and that is the best feeling, being a bookmark in their lives!
Fast forward to present, the challenge for this generation of RJs, is the internet, and social media. Everyone’s got easy access to music, pop culture and information. The listeners are ‘spoiled for choice’- so many options, and yes, you get picky! And of course, radio wouldn’t be your first choice, would it? Also, the wannabe RJs are somewhat impatient. Measuring their popularity on the basis of ‘Likes’ on Facebook and wanting quick results. “If you want to join radio, you’re welcome, but don’t do it just for money and fame. It’ll come…but be passionate about it first, do what you like, be happy. Everything else is secondary”, says Alok.
Its been a while Alok’s been on a break from radio, but he’s definitely going back. He loves music too much to let it slide. Radio isn’t going anywhere, it’s not getting obsolete. “Radio is like a cockroach of media” as he puts it. Its not about being obsolete, but how relevant you can make it. We’re humans, looking for someone to connect with. Connect with listeners, give them something to relate to, and you’ll be relevant. Moreover, radio offers something internet technologies cannot – personality, local insight and communication – the three pillars of media. If you can excel at these, and you’ll thrive in radio, both financially and socially. And so, internet won’t take over radio, if anything, it has made it even more accessible. If a radio station is savvy enough, you can even tune in online! Also, radio is still one of the best means of communication which is accessible to all ages, easy to understand and has deep roots in society. Yes, there are challenges to address, but radio – it’ll carry on!
Pull quote: "It's not going obsolete…it's about how relevant you can make that medium. I call radio the cockroach of media…you know, something that has been and always will be".