Meet the Stars of Radio Tarana

While journalists are more often read than seen or heard, programme hosts on the radio are more often heard than seen or read. The dual privilege rests only with television programme hosts. There are however some radio stars who are seen and heard in public from time to time, either as Masters of Ceremonies or as special guests but they rarely provide reading material.

Our stars at Radio Tarana are no exception. For the best part of the day, they remain in the confines of the studio, talking through a microphone or telephone.

In a bid to provide a platform for them to voice their views and likes, we feature them here alphabetically.

Ajeshni Raj Kumar

When she joined Radio Tarana, we asked her if she sensed a challenge in New Zealand and if competition was as rife as her native Fiji, where she had gathered experience as a Senior Accounts Executive at the Fiji Broadcasting Limited and as an Accounts Executive at Fiji Times (Indian Newslink, October 1, 2006).

Four years on, Ajeshni Raj Kumar remains as excited and committed as she was on the first day at work. Known for her hard work she has been a successful member of the sales team at the radio station.

Al Ishaq (Akash)

It is not every day that radio hosts have the opportunity to meet national and world leaders face to face and interview them as we scribes do. They nonetheless speak to them over the telephone and project their views on various issues.

But Al Ishaq (better known as Akash) has had the best of both, moving with such celebrities as former New Zealand First Party leader and Foreign Minister Winston Peters, Opposition Leader Phil Goff, US Senator John McCain over the past ten years that he has spent on the waves of Radio Tarana.

He is also among the few at the radio station to have appeared on almost all the programme slots.

Donna Young

Credit Control has become a profession over the years, transforming the earlier task of keeping the accounts ledger properly balanced. But those performing the duty face the challenge of maintaining friendly relations that their company has fostered, simultaneously performing their role successfully.

Donna Young belongs to that class of people who delicately balances between being nice and understanding, and being firm and focused on her job. Her earlier assignment with a finance company was useful when Radio Tarana appointed her initially for a three-month stint two years ago to clean-up the Bills Receivable portfolio but she has stayed on, albeit on part-time basis.

Gopal Bhatia

To thousands of listeners of Radio Tarana and to a few thousand more music lovers, his voice as a programme host is as melodious as his voice on stage, rendering immortal hits of Hindi film industry playback singers such as the late Kishore Kumar nonagenarian Manna Dey and a host of others. His chaste Hindi has attracted many to be his fans since he began at the radio station seven years ago and in recent years, his role as a Sales & Marketing Executive has accrued friends in the business community.

“My tasks include planning, advertising, public relations, organising events, product development, distribution, sponsorship and research,” he said.

Hemant Parikh

People call him a workaholic, a man who does not know how to relax and enjoy life and as a person who is forever wedded to his job.

The final part of that comment must now change, for Hemant Parikh, the soft-spoken community leader tied the knot around the neck of his long-time girl friend Rozeena Kumari on May 29, 2010 in Auckland (Indian Newslink, June 1).

But knowing him as we do, the change in marital status would not affect his commitment to Radio Tarana. Less than 24 hours after his wedding, he was on a plane to Colombo (with wife at hand of course) to cover the IIFA Awards function.

Be it Bollywood, Sports, Community Programmes or Art of Living, Hemant will be present in good or foul weather, indifferent to his own health or fatigue.

Jeff Khan

He was reportedly known as the ‘Voice of the Nation’ in his native Fiji, with extensive experience in Programming, Advertising Copy, Production, Sales & Marketing and other areas of a radio station.

He is probably among a few who have worked at three major radio stations in Fiji, including Radio Fiji, Radio Navtarang, Radio Sargam and Radio Mirchi (earlier known as 98 FM). Broadcasting therefore comes naturally for Jeff Khan, who says he was fortunate to move from one popular station to another when he joined Radio Tarana after migrating to New Zealand in 2008.

Jeff is confident of moving to other programme slots from the current graveyard shift.

Krishna Sharma

Six years ago, when Radio Tarana’s search for a Business Development Executive ended when this affable and dynamic person came into view. Since then, the assignment has developed into a fruitful partnership, taking the radio station to places, people and events.

Bringing with him valuable contacts and impeccable experience in the industry in his native India and New Zealand, Krishna Sharma has become an integral part of a team that looks beyond today and tomorrow. Examining new business opportunities, seeking event and sponsorship marketing for special projects such as community festivals, Bollywood Awards, Sports and other events including concerts and ethnic events are a part of his growing responsibility at the radio station.

Linda Christiansen

Her passion for broadcasting is almost contagious. “Radio has always been the prime medium for news, views, and of course advertising. Which other medium can provide news and events as they happen? Even television news takes a while,” she said during our first meeting more than three years ago.

From scheduling to follow-up and coordination of most matters including reminding staff to write for this column, Linda Christiansen is a methodical person, who does not like to leave anything to chance.

“It is a pleasure to work here because the people at Radio Tarana are friendly and warm. This is my family away from home,” she said.

Manish Vashiiashth

Self-confidence, a positive mental attitude and optimism are among the greatest attributes of this young man who runs ‘Buoyant Sonics Limited,’ one of the largest music showrooms (Henderson in Waitakere City) in New Zealand.

Young partygoers know him as DJ Gabbroo but to Radio Tarana listeners, he is Manish Vashiiashth, tempting them to put on their dancing shoes as he jointly hosts ‘Wednesday Night Fever’ with another colleague from 8 pm to Midnight and a solo programme on Mondays from the Midnight hour to 5 am.

“My love for music has made me a professional singer and being in the music business affords me opportunities to host shows in New Zealand and overseas,” he said.

Mehak Vashist

Why does a young woman, pursuing her Masters Degree in Finance and employed as a financial analyst in a commercial undertaking, work as a programme presenter at Radio Tarana, although once a week?

Pose that question to Mehak Vashist, you will receive an instant, one-word reply: “Passion.” Her most interesting experience to date was a phone call that she received while presenting ‘Recharge,’ a Sunday afternoon programme recently.

“The caller, from Mumbai, said she was listening to my programme online and wanted to know if I could identify her. She was my friend from school! My affinity for the Radio increased,” she said.

Mona

“Tarana is a great way to express my thoughts and reach the wider community,” says Mona, who is a programme presenter at the radio station.

“It is the Number One radio station because it connects people with their heritage through entertainment.”

She likes meeting people and making friends, while reading is her hobby.

She says family, friends and self-confidence are among her greatest strengths, while chocolates and tendency to sleep whenever she can are her weaknesses.

Neha Sandhu

She was too young to meet Muammar Abu Minyar Al Gaddafi and tell him that she was born in his country because she was barely two years old when her parents left Tripoli to move back to their native India.

She hopes to go to “that beautiful North African country bordering the Mediterranean Sea some day (which of course would be after its current tourbles are over.” If only the extremist Islamic country allowed the likes of Filmfare and IIFA Awards, Neha Sandhu would not have missed an opportunity.

Most office-goers and businesspersons switching on 1386 AM on their way to work in the morning would listen to her Breakfast Show, replete with information on stock market, currency movements and business matters.

Nirmaljit Singh Gahunia

He is among the tiny group of original broadcasters, having gone on air almost from the first day that Radio Tarana went on air on June 15, 1996. He is the chosen one to present a weekly programme in Punjabi, called ‘Punjabiyan Da Raunak Mela.’

Nirmaljit Singh Gahunia was emotionally charged a few years ago when he broadcast live from Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of Guru Nanak, the Founder of Sikhism and other Gurdwars in Pakistan.

His long innings at Radio Tarana has not only endeared him to his community but also entitles him to share the success of the entity over the past 14 years.

Parmjeet Parmar

There may be no connection between a PhD in Biological Sciences and Broadcasting but anyone with a penchant for initiating a dialogue and sustaining a discussion on air can claim to be a good programmer indeed.

Dr Parmjeet Parmar belongs to her own galaxy, talking to political, business and community leaders, understanding in the process, their views on matters of national and international importance. The editor of this newspaper (who shared radio time with her for a number of years interviewing former Prime Minister Helen Clark, current Leader of the Opposition Phil Goff and a host of others), believes that her proficiency in Hindi, an official language of India, is endearing.

As well as being a hospitable host, Parmjeet seeks professional expertise in seeking on-the-air free solutions on immigration and related matters for listeners.

Pawan Rekha Prasad


When India’s Superstar Amitabah Bachchan held her hand during an interview, it was out of friendliness rather than self-defence.

Her career with Radio Tarana began nine years ago and since then she has had occasions to meet a number of celebrities in the film industry, trade and commerce and in her own field of broadcasting at the BBC Hindi Service based in London.

It has been a long and impressive journey for Pawan Rekha Prasad, whose voice comes through the airwaves of 1386 AM as a programme presenter.

Pawan earned the respect of the Muslim community when she began hosting a three-hour programme during the Holy Month of Ramadan, observing the tenets of Islam, including fasting.

Robert Khan


The corporate world has sired countless individuals who have brought fame and fortune to their organisations, creating a culture of hard work, dedication, devotion and sense of purpose. They have in turn led teams of people, motivated and inspired them to perform and lift the image, productivity and profitability of their entities and become a source of endearment to the customers they serve.

That is indeed the world of Robert Khan, the man behind Radio Tarana and its continued success since the initial words of greetings filled the air on June 15, 1996. It has been a long and arduous journey but he and his team have proved the dictum that success cannot elude those who persevere and persist with honesty and integrity.

It is rare for an individual and an institution to share a common destiny as in the case of Robert Khan and Radio Tarana. They are so interminably intertwined that neither can be mentioned in isolation.

Robert believes in the brand and the companionship that he has fostered with his staff, advertisers, associates and listeners.

Saagar

A Senior Sales Consultant at a major finance company could hardly be considered a candidate for hosting a fun-filled programme on the radio but he does it with such passion and love that you would wonder how the two professions mix well.

“Music is my first love and it helps conquer hearts,” says Saagar to his thousands of Radio Tarana listeners.

“Members of the Indian community are always thrilled and appeased to listen to their favourite numbers that ranges from fast and lively beats to mellowing songs of romance and sorrow. Music is the greatest binding factor,” he said.

Roopa Suchdev

Her association with Radio Tarana since its inception places her among the senior- most programmers in the ethnic sector. The formative years saw here hosting the Breakfast Show, followed by a number of other programmes including ‘Saheli’ (talkback), ‘Sunehri Yaadein,’ ‘Bazm-E-Ghazal,’ and ‘Jeevan Sandhya,’ to name a few. Following a two-year stint presenting ‘Dopahar Ka Safar’ (‘Afternoon Journey’), Roop now fronts ‘Suhana Safar’ and ‘Guftgu.’

Those in the know would agree that Roopa Suchdev is an asset to every organisation – the radio station, Bhartiya Samaj through which she renders community service and Roopa Aur Aap, her own television programme that goes on air Triangle Television twice a week.

Sangeeta Mani

She is one of those who goes beyond her assignment and tries to learn more to add value to what she does and promote the image of the organisation to which she belongs. From production to scheduling, she likes to lend a helping hand, because she believes it is one large family.

“That is the best part of working for Radio Tarana,” says Sangeeta Mani.

From Tavua in Fiji where she was born and raised, to the hustle and bustle of Auckland may be two worlds apart, but Sangeeta goes about her job as a presenter with enthusiasm and charm.

“This is as much my radio station as it is of our listeners,” she said.

Sanjesh Narayan

Following a two-hour interview at his office in Suva, Fiji’s Prime Minister Commodore Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama gave this parting shot: “I have always considered Radio Tarana a good bridge between Fiji and New Zealand. The reporter who speaks to me every week is a pleasant man. I have never met him.”

Sanjesh Narayan carries the honour of being the only reporter in the world to have a weekly chat with the maverick leader of the South Pacific nation and yet he is barely aware of his distinction. This is yet another job that must be done, giving the best of his ability and professional calibre.

“The weekly interview continues to be a challenge, for it is not easy to get the Prime Minister of a country at the allotted time; but somehow it happens,” he said.

Sapna

It is possibly the place of birth (Sugar City in Fiji) that makes her a sweet person with a musical voice and down-to-earth personality, for people love to let her speak longer as she presents her programme on Radio Tarana.

Over the years, Sapna has also given vent to her love for music in her programmes by playing on air hits that appease listeners, apart from playing people’s choice, whenever possible.

Sapna was in Wellington recently to support and report the ‘Miss Universe New Zealand Pageant 2010,’ at which Nafeesa Moses was a contestant as Miss Radio Tarana.

Satend Sharma

Even as a child, he dreamt of becoming a famous radio presenter, talking to thousands of people and that dream became a reality when he launched his career in radio in his native Fiji when he was just 18 years old.

Two years later (2001), he joined Radio Tarana in New Zealand as a presenter but his graduate qualifications in Language and Literature made him an English language teacher (he is currently working at Mangere College in Auckland).

He returned in 2006 to begin the ‘Tarana Drive Masti 4 to 8,’ entertaining listeners either going home from work or beginning their day.

Satend is the recipient of the ‘Best Foreign Language Programme Award,’ the first ever for Radio Tarana and an Indian community broadcaster, given by the industry.

Shalend Sharma

“Radio Tarana is the Number One Indian Radio Station in New Zealand because it accounts for Number One Staff from all over the world,” says Shalend Sharma, popularly known as DJ Shalend.

“We are in the business of informing and entertaining people and hence the feeling of oneness and spirit of service are important,” he said.

Shalend hosts ‘Tarana Bazaar’ on Saturday mornings to inform listeners of special offers available in supermarkets and retails shops around Auckland. The programme has gained popularity, with hundreds of people able to plan their weekly shopping, making best use of the bargains and other offers.

“Every programme is interesting and accrues invaluable experience. I learn something different every day,” he said.

Suryakant Patel

The privilege of joining a company in its formative stage and contributing to its growth is reserved for a few. Suryakant (Surya) Patel deems it a great honour to have been involved as a partner in the progress of Radio Tarana.

“I never considered myself as important but believed that teamwork will lead to success. I deem it a matter of pride when people say that the radio station has grown from strength to strength and is a leader in the Indian segment of the New Zealand broadcasting industry,” he said.

Surya remembers the struggle during those years when Tarana was not a well-known name in the wider community.

As Director of Sales & Marketing, Surya keeps the financial health of the company safe and sound.

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