Mr Protean himselfA senior radio presenter at Hits FM 91.2 and host of the food-travel show Khazzamandu, Alok Thapa is also a freelance writer and documentary maker, and now, an actor in the TV series Singha Durbar.
A senior radio presenter at Hits FM 91.2 and host of the food-travel show Khazzamandu, Alok Thapa is also a freelance writer and documentary maker, and now, an actor in the TV series Singha Durbar. The Post’s Marissa Taylor caught up with the man with the many talents. Excerpts:
How did your journey as an RJ begin? What sparked your interest?
I grew up in a musical household, and somebody was always singing along to the radio. I would have to say music was the main incentive, and when the opportunity to get on radio came my way, I went with my gut instinct.
What are you currently involved with?
Acting. I just finished shooting for the much-anticipated socio-political drama Singha Durbar, where I got the chance to share the screen with Gauri Malla, who plays the role of Nepal’s first female prime minister. I was also a part of the production team as one of the assistant directors.
What are the shows you are currently doing?
I have had the pleasure of waking Kathmanduites for the past 12 years through Namaste Kathmandu (Sunday to Wednesday). The premier breakfast show is as old as the history of FM stations in Nepal, and it’s a nice feeling to be doing a show that you were a fan of as a listener. I also do a Nepali request show, Anurodh.com on Saturdays.
What are your thoughts on working as a VJ?
I don’t really think there’s much difference between radio and TV—you can just need to learn to say and do what you want, without becoming conscious of the fact that you are facing the camera. And you have to make an effort to dress appropriately. I am glad that I have been fortunate enough to indulge two of my vices—eating and travelling on the show Khazzamandu (available on YouTube).
Your most memorable moment as an RJ till date…
Well, there have been quite a number of goof ups on air. I guess that’s the nature of the crazy-world that is live radio, and that’s what makes it so electrifying. Let’s see, once I had a slip of tongue while introducing Dido’s latest work. I happened to read her name out loud with an extra ‘l’ in the name.
Which has been your favourite show?
That’s a hard question. I’ve loved them all. Except the 6-7 pm slot, I think I’ve done all the live shows on Hits FM, but if I’m forced to choose one show, actually two, then it has to be Namaste Kathmandu and Footloose. The former forces me to jumpstart my day with music, and the latter was a Friday night show where I could play all the dance numbers; we were playing EDM way before it was hip in the local airwaves.
Any challenges you have faced?
I have had to overcome my shyness. Growing up I was an introvert, and my friends still can’t believe that the same chubby boy they knew is now yapping on air. I was painfully shy as a teenager, but then in my final year of engineering, Hits FM came calling and I branched out to media. It changed my life, and me, for good.
Any plans on pursuing writing?
Writing will always be a part of my vocation, whether I’m associated with a print media or not. After my stint as an assistant director for Singha Durbar, I’m thinking about giving script-writing a go.
Who is your favourite RJ?
In our line, you have to be able to adapt quickly. You should be able to sense that shift in equilibrium. You want to have an immediate connection with somebody to be able to have a meaningful conversation—and I feel Kala Subba does a wonderful job.
You also host shows. How different is that from RJ-ing? Which one do you prefer?
Both have their charms, and whatever you choose, in the end, it’s the love of self—expression that prevails—at least for me. But if I had to pick a medium, I’d go with radio. It’s just a lot more personal and you have a lot more control over what you’re doing and how.
Any inspirations/role models?
From an early age, my family introduced me to a wide range of music—from classical to rock.
With radio I can safely say that Tsering Choden, who’s also my guru at Hits FM, and The Rhythm Brothers, have been major sources of inspiration.
What are your future plans?
Hits FM has been an incredible journey so far. I still get butterflies in my stomach when I greet my listeners, and I hope it stays that way till I’m pushing the daisies. So yeah, radio is definitely on top of the heap.
A few words for aspiring RJs.
Everyone has access to music. Not everyone is born with on-air talent. That can only come with perseverance and passion for the long-term goal. And this might sound clichéd, but you just have to be true to yourself. It’ll pay off in the long run!