RJ Khalid Malik – ‘King of Morning Shows’


LAHORE: Living in a world marked by growing competition between news channels and newspapers, it is refreshing to see FM Radio stay true to its identity of providing entertainment to listeners, mostly on-the-go. Even though it is still the most powerful source of information because of its wide outreach, it can be seen that interactions with the listeners are mostly direct.

With over 17 FM Channels across the country, we see/hear the radio jockeys (RJs) play an important role in making sure that their audiences are not bored during their time on the road, whether it’s a long road trip or the time spent being stuck in traffic.

Popularly known as the ‘King of Morning Shows’ and according to him a ‘hopeless romantic’, Pakistan Today had a chance to chat with one of the most loved RJ’s in the country, Khalid Malik, who currently hosts Morning Jam on FM 91.

Apart from being a great RJ, he is also a brilliant event host as well as an actor, following his performance in the acclaimed TV serial Baaghi.

Pakistan Today (PT): How did you end up becoming an RJ?

Khalid Malik (KM): Back in 2004, when I was living in Sydney, Australia, I approached an Indian media house for some work and they asked me to audition for a radio station they were starting. I always considered myself pretty ‘gung-ho’, though some may call that over-confident, so I went for the audition and landed my first radio gig in the summer of 2004.

PT: As an RJ, you are always required to be happy & cheerful? How do you manage to be enthusiastic all day long?

KM: Developing that happy, lively persona took some time. There was a time in my life when I was on anti-depressants. But then, I had a bulb go off in my head and that was when I decided that the only person that mattered was me. I needed to focus on me, look after myself.

That simple change in perception shifted my entire being. I am still challenged throughout the day but deep down I know that as one treads the path of success one will be faced with some big challenges so remember that is a good sign.

PT: How has being an RJ changed you as a person?

KM: Being a social person, I love people, so RJ-ing has brought out who I am and given me a sense of purpose that is bigger than myself.

PT: You have also explored your acting skills and your performance in Baaghi was lauded. Tell us about the experience.

KM: Though you’re only as good as your last role, production houses still have a very myopic take on who is marketable and who’s not.

Nonetheless when Farooq Rind, the director, asked me I was aboard without even reading the script because I had full faith in his vision.

Saba Qamar was a delight to work with, it was our first time working with each other. This role was an essential part of her life and that had to translate the same way on-screen; the two of us were on the same page as we knew how crucial this relationship was to the entire serial.

PT: What sort of preparation went into preparing for the role? Did you always want to dabble in this field, or it was just an opportunity that came along?

KM: I actually didn’t have much time to prepare. I was given a brief as to what the character was about and I turned up on the sets with some idea of what I wanted from this character drawing inspiration from different people in our industry and that’s how ‘Rehan’ was born.

I initially trained as an actor so I was an actor before I became an RJ. My journey in the field began 20 years ago when I completed my acting diploma and was working as an extra in Australia so I never dabbled – I dove straight into it.

PT: What do you think about Pakistan’s radio industry in terms of how much it has progressed and its future?

KM: I think young presenters are taking it seriously but not as much as they should be. When you start out, it shouldn’t be about the money it should be about the art of delivery and the art of radio.

It is good to see that a lot of advertisers are beginning to see the importance of radio because radio today is no longer confined to a dial in your car. Radio has become digital, it has become visual; the dynamic of radio has changed.

PT: We’ve seen you host live events as well. How different is live-hosting different from show hosting and what challenges do you face during the live sessions?

KM: I love doing it all live. In radio, you have room for error but in hosting you have to be alert and careful.

A number of times, while hosting events, I lose the train of thought which forces me to re-engage with my audience and be more present. I love it because it gives me immense pleasure just knowing that a crowd is feeling excited because of the energy we were able to instill in them.

PT: Since music is a vital part of radio, what kind of music do you like?

KM: I grew up listening to pop music. So Culture Club, WHAM, Rick Astley and Madonna were some of my favourites. In addition, Def Leppard, Maroon 5, U2, Coldplay, P.M. Dawn, Kings of Leon and Adele are some of my most favourite artists.

While concluding the conversation, we asked Khalid Malik what tips he’d like to give the aspiring RJs, to which he replied, “It is essential to keep the three P’s of radio in your mind: Prepare, prepare and prepare.”