Rob Kay: A closer look at the newest Nile FM DJ
CAIRO: Nile FM, Egypt’s only English music station, disappeared from our radio sets for a few days to everyone’s distress. After fixing their technical problem it was back on air, minus what many consider the original voice of the station, Simon Ramsden.
After decades of suffering from radio starvation, Egyptians were pleasantly surprised when Nile Radio Production (NRP) unleashed two new FM stations, bringing radio back from the dead in July 2003.
From the onset, Ramsden, who was station manager, was also the talent behind the “Big Drive Home program on weekdays during rush hour. Now replacing the familiar voice of Ramsden is Rob Kay.
I decided to investigate.
When I first walked into the studio at Nile FM headquarters, I was taken aback at how young Kay is. The 23-year-old was laid back; garbed in torn jeans, a striped shirt and Birkenstocks, he was fairly confident about winning Egypt’s heart.
Daily Star Egypt: How did you get this gig?
Rob Kay: Well, Nile FM advertises on websites; I wanted to work overseas, so I sent my 30-second demo to radio stations in the United States and Australia as well as Egypt. I got it within two weeks and I was here. I’ve been here for a month now, including three weeks of intensive training.
DSE: When did you get into radio?
RK: Well ever since I was six years old at school I’d say when I grow up I want to be on the radio. I actually started when I was 15 doing voluntary stuff like working for hospital radio back in the UK and on student radio programs.
DSE: Is it your first job outside of the UK?
RK: Well no, actually I went traveling when I was 18 all around Southeast Asia, so I did some freelance at an Internet radio station in Sidney. I love traveling. I love experiencing different cultures, which was the main attraction of me coming here and taking this job.
DSE: How different is the radio format here in comparison to what you are used to?
RK: Here freedom is great; you can be creative and basically do whatever you want, plus there’s great interaction with the listeners. In the UK it is very strict; you get told what to play, you get told what to say. All you are is a voice, and the voice belongs to a company. It’s very soul destroying.
DSE: You say there is great interaction with listeners, can you elaborate?
RK: I love the interaction you get here; it’s very energetic and free. In the UK, radio is dead. Maybe you get a couple of calls in the show probably telling you to shut up. It’s very different here how the listener reacts to the station, everyone wants to interact. The reaction of people has been very positive to me, which is great because I’ve been so nervous about taking on such a big show.
DSE: Are you saying radio is still a powerful medium in Egypt?
RK: The power radio has here is a beautiful thing to see … I grew up listening to radio and radio has always been a big part of my life, but that’s kind of missing now in the UK. It’s just kind of like getting dull and repetitive. It’s really nice coming over here and actually experiencing people embracing a radio satiation. It’s really exciting.
DSE: What do you think of the Egyptian hosts who had no prior experience in radio, and did not even grow up with a modern radio format?
RK: Amazing is the only way to describe it . pure natural talents. When I used to listen to Nile FM on the Internet I used to listen to Lu’s show because it was on at a good time for me and I loved it, when I found out it was his first gig, wow, it’s really amazing.
DSE: You’re hosting a show that has been Simon Ramsden’s from the very beginning of Nile FM. Do you feel like you can fill his shoes?
RK: I worked with him for three weeks; it was very intense. I mean Simon is Simon and no one can replace the guy. He was a great presenter. It [Nile FM] was his baby for three years. Originally I thought it would be hard to take over, that’s why I thought I would do something completely different and see what happens and it’s been really great.
DSE: So what kind of music do you play?
RK: I really want to do a mix. I love rock. I love pop and 80s . I try to do a balance. If someone doesn’t like a song, it’s ok because then the next song will be totally different.
DSE: What’s the next step?
RK: When Simon left, everyone was worried Nile FM would come to an end. I think that is rubbish. Simon is gone, but Nile FM is still here and we are going to push forward and make it even bigger.
Catch “The Big Drive Home with Rob Kay, weekdays from 4:00-7:00 p.m. on Nile FM 104.2.