Aniruddha Jena traces the transformation of RJ Shibani (Muskan) from a self-made radio announcer to a celebrity in the community.
“Follow your passion, and success will follow you,” goes the saying. It certainly holds true for Shibani Swar of Kandhamal, Odisha. Shibani is from Kandhamal, one of the tribal-dominated backward districts of Odisha. Now popularly known as ‘Muskan’, Shibani is a radio announcer at Radio Muskan in Phulbani, Kandhamal. This article focuses on her journey and transformation from a village girl to a celebrity in her own right.
But, first a few words about the radio station. Shibani’s celebrity status in Kandhamal, is because of her inspiring journey at Radio Muskan. Her success, she explains, is entirely because of Radio Muskan.
Radio Muskan was dedicated to the people of Kandhamal to nurture their local talent, on 15th August 2012, India’s 66th Independence say. The license holder is Dadhi Baman Jew Institute for Social Action in Kandhamal. Radio Muskan’s objective is to be the voice of the community and to encourage citizens’ participation at every level. Importantly, it also encourages creativity through different types of programs in the local language.
From her childhood, Shibani had a passion for radio, and was an enthusiastic listener of various radio programmes. A regular listener of Radio Muskan since its inception, she used to provide sound bites regularly about various local events and programmes. Hence, she had an excellent rapport with the station – especially one of the employees – Minati.
On the 5th of January 2016, Minati called Shibani and asked her if she was interested to join Radio Muskan full-time. Shibani readily agreed. Her interest and passion were such that she worked at Radio Muskan for months together without any salary. She was quite happy interacting with the community members and authorities and making programmes at the station.
In a couple of years, after producing a few popular and successful programmes like Srabani, Raja Queen, and Sabitri, her reputation and fame grew. She also hosted programmes for adolescent girls and newly married women and invited them to the radio station. These programmes were firsts of their kind for the people of Kandhamal and generated considerable interest.
Through these programmes, Shibani became a known face in various sections of society including homemakers, Anganwadi workers, ASHA workers, school and college-going students, civil servants, political leaders, etc. Through her constant and regular association with various stakeholders of the society, she was able to create an identity for herself and within a few years she became the face of Radio Muskan.
Significantly, people started recognising Radio Muskan through her and she herself came to be called “Muskan” (the girl). She made Radio Muskan a part of everyone’s daily life in Kandhamal town and, because of this, she built a brand for the radio station.
Commenting on her journey and evolution, she is categorical that “It is essential in today’s world to find yourself a space and importantly, an identity of your own. In order to achieve that, you need to be consistently diligent. In my case, [I could do so because of] Radio Muskan. It gave me everything; in fact, it gave me more than what I had thought of. Today, I treat Radio Muskan as my family, and it is so essential to me.”
Department of Communication, University of Hyderabad