(This interview with Vasanthi Hariprakash was published in Star of Mysore on Jan 14, 2016)
The name Vasanthi Hariprakash rings a bell (and a sweet sounding one at that) for the listeners of India’s first private FM station Radio City 91.1. Goooood Morning Bangalore…Vasanthi’s energetic voice woke up the garden city, morning after morning when she hosted the prime time breakfast show from 2004 – 08, brightening up the listeners’ mornings with a quote here and a concern there, her enthusiasm upbeat, her tone unchanged as she chatted with celebrities and lesser mortals. No wonder, during her four year stint as a Radio Jockey, the listenership of the breakfast show of the channel went up phenomenally.
The same lively voice had mesmerized the listeners of All India Radio across the country at the 103rd session of Indian Science Congress held at namma Mysuru recently where Vasanthi was the official AIR commentator for the two day session inaugurated by the Prime Minister. “I have anchored and moderated many shows but giving a live commentary is the first time experience. It is indeed very challenging to present a live commentary as unlike radio/ TV shows, there is no scope for retakes or editing. One has to be very sure of what one has to speak. Before I took this assignment, it appeared very daunting but when I started, it wasn’t so difficult,” says Vasanthi who believes that the future of radio listening is going to be better and brighter in India. The onset of 24/7 Television had temporarily slumped the popularity of radio listening in India until the advent of private radio stations which made radio listening fashionable. Vasanthi also anchored Women Science Congress and other sessions during the 103rd National Science Congress.
It must be a high moment for a person when one makes thousands and lakhs of people experience a mega event with one’s voice literally. Yes, it gives a high but not to the RJ but to yours truly as I listen to her awestruck, talking about anchoring shows featuring the likes of Shah Rukh Khan, interviewing Big B, and countless other celebrities from various walks of life that Vasanthi has quizzed in her career as a representative of popular brand names or as an independent journalist.
For the uninitiated, Vasanthi Hariprakash is an independent journalist, moderator, panelist, columnist for a rural newspaper and anchor at social, cultural events. She has also modelled for saris made by Assamese women weavers. Starting her career as a sub editor with Indian Express where she was the coordinator for network for women in India, she later ventured into Radio, NDTV as a special correspondent.
It is not every one’s cup of coffee or tea to chuck a regular job and set out in your professional journey to carve an identity for yourself all over again. Vasanthi who has crossed from one medium to another, from print to radio, to TV, anchoring, moderating, interviewing, walks the path less trodden with elan and grace.
There has to be a charisma about that bubbly voice when the endorsement for her shows comes from none other than Mr N.R. Narayana Murthy himself. “I listen to Vasanthi’s shows whenever I can. I notice she has a genuine desire to make a difference to the world around her. She has the power to mould the opinion of over 2 million listeners through her radio show,” says Mr Murthy.
Recipient of many awards like Best English RJ of the Year – Indian Excellence in Radio Award for the year 2007 awarded by the India Radio Forum at Mumbai, Radio City CEO Award for excellence & best performance on the Breakfast Show, Outstanding Journalism Student for Year 1992-93 awarded by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Bangalore and Dazzling Daughter Award given by Bangalore University for professional achievements, in July 2010, Vasanthi was recently invited by dairy scientists in Netherlands as a media advisor on organic dairy farming and to anchor the international symposium. By the time, this piece sees the light of the day, she will be off to Brazil on another such independent assignment.
“How easy or difficult is the life of a freelancer?’ I ask.
“When I resigned from my job from NDTV to do something of my own, I didn’t care whether I would be successful or not, I just wanted to break that 24/7 cycle. I wanted to spend more time with my son. The main objective of life is to be happy. To take a decision if you should be sticking to your regular job or break free, you need to have a conversation with yourself. You may be doing a regular job and still have that satisfaction of using your optimum potential but if you are not doing justice to your potential, you need to wake up and do something about it,” says the chirpy lady.
Having her manicured fingers in multiple pies, Vasanthi is everywhere literally. In between being a mythology storyteller on goddesses of India at a musical concert, moderating panel discussions for channels, mentoring adolescents for a US Consulate programme, being media advisors and motivational speaker to corporates, she squeezes in time to have a cup of tea with a fan.
“How do you manage time?” I can’t help asking.
She looks up at the ceiling thoughtfully to find a crisp answer to my question. “When I take up an assignment, until it finishes, I use every little time to complete that task in hand. It’s like stealing even a minute from here and there either to do some research or reading up about the event that I am going to host. Most women, working or at home, manage multiple tasks together. It is of utmost importance to have a good support system and a supportive family. I couldn’t have done the radio shows if my mother was not around to help me. Most importantly, don’t forget that you are a person first. Send out signals in whatever way possible to your family that you have your own life; don’t attempt to do everything yourself. Women need to do justice to their potential.” I couldn’t agree more.
Vasanthi who resides in Bangaluru looks for every opportunity however small or big it is to visit the city that she is in love with. “Mysore has got so much of character. We tend to associate places with people. Mysore will always be a special city for me as my father’s sister used to live here. I used to frequent this place often even a child.”
Don’t be surprised if you bump into this charming Radio Anchor at the Mysore railway station taking a selfie or enjoying neer dosa in a south Indian eatery in Saraswathi Puram.