Before high speed internet disrupted traditional entertainment in Bangladesh, radio jockeys of fm radio channels were like music to the ears of millions.
For a number of years, when traditional media was transitioning to streaming and social sites, fm radio entertainment filled the gap.
In Bangladesh, the mid 2000s started a phenomenon of private FM radio stations.
The Business Standard reached out to some of the celebrity Radio Jockeys of the golden age of fm radio channels.
Former RJ and current television host Sayem was the popular voice behind "Tobey Tai Hok" on Radio Today in 2006.
"We had to go through a series of workshops and training. An Indian trainer, Rupa Chakroborty, came to Dhaka to groom us for a 10-day workshop. We even went to India to see how their radio stations function. After a tough selection process, only five of us were chosen as RJs."
A big fan of Ayub Bachchu, Sayem recollected his first memory with the artiste.
"During my training session, I had to interview Ayub Bachchu. I was a bit nervous, but his words inspired me to give a good performance."
One time, his fans in Sylhet opened up a fan club and asked him to inaugurate it.
"They sent me train tickets to come to the inauguration. They arranged everything – from booking my hotel to renting a hall. They even received me at the rail station. When I went back to Dhaka, they had to send someone with me just to carry all the gifts I received!"
Sayem believed that radio stations were popular because of the bond between the listeners and the radio jockeys.
"Back then, radio was the only platform through which you could express your opinions and reach out to people. To have your favourite RJ dedicate songs to you, or confess your love to someone special, or have people comment on your SMS, these were what attracted people to listen to radio."
Maria Nur Rowshon
Former RJ and television host Maria Nur was the voice behind "World Music" in ABC Radio in 2009.
"My journey into radio was a sudden decision. After a series of tests, I was selected to host programmes like 'Tunnel of Music', 'Moods and Melody', 'Sonic Music' and many more."
She said, "I had a fan named 'Rocket Fighter' who would send me flowers and cakes on my birthday and other special occasions. Fans would stand in front of the station to get a glimpse of me."
While talking about the decline in popularity, she said, "Remember the song 'Video killed the Radio Star'? Well that became true for the radio stations. Facebook live, too many commercials, and repetition of songs affected their popularity."
Former RJ and currently the content lead for Analytics Data Advertising (ADA), Asraful Alam or better known as RJ Russell, became the haunting voice behind a popular radio show.
Russell believed that radio stations reached their peak in 2014.
"Before 2006, the traditional announcer would just read the script which failed to grab the attention of youths. Everything changed when the new wave of FM channels came and songs by Ayub Bachchu, Nagarbaul and Metallica were aired. The radio stations conducted surveys to find the audience's taste in music. By 2014, there were 10 stations in the country."
He pointed out that after 2016, the popularity of FM channels started to decline because of strong competition and change in listeners' habit.
"Nowadays, people have easy access to news through Facebook or Spotify. Download option and Facebook Live made them lose interest in radio."
He added that the boom in digital media was another major reason behind the decline in popularity.
"Investors realised that digital marketing is cheap and one can easily see the audience's response. Sponsorships started to decline and channels began to have a hard time managing budget for quality shows."
Former RJ and currently Regional Manager of Delivery Hero in Thailand, Sadia was the popular voice behind "Hello Dhaka" on Radio Foorti.
"My morning show 'Hello Dhaka' was popular among commuters and students. We would discuss the latest trends or talk of the town. Being a cricket enthusiast, I would interact with my fans regarding matches and our cricket stars."
Sadia was the first social media manager for Radio Foorti Facebook page and then became an executive producer in 2011.
She believed that the popularity of FM channels flourished due to radio being a personal medium which touched the listeners' emotions.
"In 2006, Facebook was still new and television was a one way medium. Through radio, people gained a personal space to interact with the rest of the country. Rise of smartphones with in-built radios and the sudden boom in music industry also increased the popularity of radio stations."
Sadia opined that FM channels were not being able to produce anything unique or ground-breaking to attract the listeners.
Instead of taking in celebrities, the channels should have focused more on highlighting the talents of future radio jockeys.
"I believe radio as a medium would never disappear, it is universal, and we just need something ground-breaking to bring it back to the forefront. The bond that an RJ creates with his/her audience is something that cannot be found in any other medium," she said.