All India Radio Broadcasters Welfare Association (AIRBWAK) of Kolkata is in a bitter battle against All India Radio management as officials push to set Radio Jocks age limit of 35 for their stations FM Rainbow and FM Gold.
The dispute started after a communication was sent last October 2013, setting the age bar for RJs at 30 years old. This decision was in order to “infuse freshness in the presentation of programmes” of the aforementioned radio stations. Another communication was sent on the 30th of December, 2013 revising the limit to 35 and also setting the deadline for those over the age limit to leave by August 8, 2014. The officials of AIR reinforced this directive last March.
Last 8th of August, news broke that All India Radio (AIR) had fired around 100 of their casual Radio Jocks who were over the age of 35 working in AIR’s Kolkata radio stations. In a statement given by AIRBWAK’s Honorary General Secretary, Avantika Ghosh, she regreted that the public will no longer hear their favourite voices as they will cease to work with AIR midnight of that day. She further states, “It is absolutely irrational to terminate our services just because we have crossed 35. There is no scientific reasoning that says that once a person crosses 35, the voice modulation ceases to sound good. Moreover, most of us feed our families from our income. About 85% of us are women.”
Officials of Prasar Bharati — the government corporation which runs AIR later countered that, “The news item ‘All India Radio Sacks 100 RJs aged above 35’ is apparently based on a news conference held by members of the All India Radio Broadcasters Welfare Association (AIRBWAK), Kolkata. It is a false alarm. Some elements want to indulge in sensation-mongering and spread canards against the benevolent management of Prasar Bharati.”
They further stated, “AIR has no plans whatsoever to sack anybody. Let all concerned rest assured that AIR has no such designs. It may be added that casual RJs/announcers whose voice quality/texture has begun to wither or those whose performance could impair the professional interests of the organisation may have to go.”
Another AIR Official, Director General F. Sheheryar said, “Those currently on the panel of casual RJs may take the skill test as and when it is held. We have no plans whatsoever to sack anybody. We will conduct a voice test for all and ensure each casual radio jockey and announcer gets a chance to prove their versatility in front of the microphone.” AIR officials said that the decision was made due to complaints they have received that their current pool of RJs “are very boring and too mature” for their youth audience.
All India Radio Broadcasters Welfare Association has since raised the issue to Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) after they failed to receive any response from the officials of AIR to retract the decision. And following protests made in AIR’s head office and Delhi and other cities, officials were said to have taken a more “sympathetic view.”