Raman Bhanot is a TV Anchor & Sports Broadcaster. He has worked with leading sports channels and media companies in the country – like STAR Sports, SONY, TEN Sports, ESPN. He has also been associated as a Sports Expert with News Networks like INDIA TV & DD News. He has been hosting live events & stage shows for over 2 decades, including FM Radio shows. He is the proud owner of a sports & digital content production company- ELAN Communications – they develop online content for some of the most popular sports TV companies, sports websites & apps, mobile networks and content aggregators, among others.
I did my schooling from St. Columba’s School, New Delhi. Did a Bachelor’s in Economics Honours from Kirori Mal College, Delhi University; then completed a 2 year MBA PG program from IMI- Delhi in Marketing.
Q. How did you land up in the events & exhibitions industry?
A. Music, Sports and performing live on stage were things I was always fond of. Throughout my academic pursuits – be it school, college or MBA, I was always involved in these co-curricular activities. When I was in first year college – FM radio was launched in India, and I auditioned for a part time Radio Jockey’s role with a Private FM Radio station called TIMES FM (which is now known as Radio Mirchi). One thing led to another – and eventually I went on to host LIVEWIRE on AIR FM, one of the most popular shows at the time; and I hosted it for many years! TIMES FM used to organize many campus rock shows and sponsor Music events – and I started hosting stage shows for them. I interacted with a lot of event organizers there, who liked my work – and I never looked back after that.
While in college, a friend of mine and I also set up a recording studio, and started making radio ads and composing music for jingles & commercials. So before I completed graduation, I was already earning a lot of money and funded my MBA and life after that! I used my MBA learning to set up my Content Production Company – ELAN COMMUNICATIONS.
Q. Please share your professional journey with us. What were the major landmarks and achievements in your journey?
A. I was always fascinated by Live Broadcasting – be it Radio or TV, because you had to give your best in one shot – no retakes (quite like LIFE)! The same holds true for events as well. There is a live audience that you interact with, they react to what you say in real time – and there are no second chances! Since I was comfortable presenting in front of a live audience, transitioning from Stage to Radio to TV was not much of a challenge. I started hosting popular radio shows on FM in the mid 90’s and hosted my first live TV show in 1998. My foray into cricket commentary & hosting started in 2002 with WISDEN & CRICINFO. In 2006, I was offered the chance to host the live match analysis program FOURTH UMPIRE on DD National, for the ICC Champions Trophy. The show went on to become the most watched cricket match analysis show in India, and I hosted it for over 10 years. I also went on to do commentary for IPL with SONY and for multiple tournaments/series with ESPN,STAR SPORTS,TEN SPORTS and DISCOVERY SPORT. Since the year 2000, I have the rare distinction of hosting and commentating for FIVE Olympic Games FIVE Asian Games and FIVE Commonwealth Games.
Q. What are the major events that you have handled?
A. All events are big events for me, because I believe that your reputation is at stake every time you go up on stage or step into the arc lights. Also, public memory can be short for good performances, and in this business – you are as good as your last event! But in terms of scale or first’s – there are a couple of live events that stand out. One was hosting the FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour in 2010, when the Football World Cup trophy came to India. I hosted a 3 day event in Kolkata’s Salt Lake stadium, in front of packed crowd of around 1 lakh people, who had come to be a part of the celebrations. The other, was hosting the FIH Congress in Delhi in 2018. Delegates & dignitaries of 137 countries who are a part of the International Hockey Federation attended the event. And I had the proud distinction to be the first Indian to have ever hosted this biennial event in 46 editions.
Q. What according to you is the role of an emcee? And what is his/her contribution towards the success of an event?
A. An emcee is the life of the show. He or she is the face of the event and portrays the image of the brand or client. How an emcee conducts the show can make or break the impression people/ audiences carry back with them about a particular brand or its products. To put it in another way, an Emcee is like salt in a food preparation – a weak emcee can leave the show bland, while too boisterous an emcee can turn-off the audience. But a seasoned emcee can add just the right flavor of content with subtle humor to engage an audience and leave them craving for more even after the show is over.
Q. What are the prerequisites to become a good emcee?
A. The first quality that I would look for in an emcee is persona. An anchor need not be drop dead gorgeous or a hunk (though if you are, then superb), but atleast has to be smart, presentable & well groomed. Confidence is the key. A controlled voice, with the ability to modulate and connect with the audience, is essential. Ability to think on your feet, have the gift of the gab and vocabulary to express your thoughts fluently is also very important.
Q. What kind of training is available for this career in India?
A. There are media institutes that provide 3 to 6 month certificate courses for stage hosting, Radio Jockeying and news anchoring. Other colleges integrate this training into a 3 year regular Bachelors program in Journalism and/or Mass Communication. I have taught budding anchors & Mass Comm aspirants who have now turned successful media professionals, for over a decade at YMCA’s institute of Media Studies and at ELAN Institute of Media. Apart from institutes, a few experienced professionals who are in the field already, also conduct training workshops and modules ranging from a week to a month, to groom aspirants.
Q. What feedback would you like to give to event organizers? What can they do to make your job functions smoother?
A. Explaining – the objective of the event, the expected target audience, and the takeaways from the function – to the emcee, are the keys to help them perform better. A water-tight event flow, helps the emcee plan the way he/she would want to transition from one sequence in an event to another. Discussing contingency plans before hand, like just in case invited guests don’t turn up or are late, also helps avoid embarrassing moments on stage.
Q. Can you recount an event where you handled a crisis situation effectively?
A. Once during a live event for the media, for a new Car unveiling in New Delhi–the celebrity actor who was the brand ambassador for the Automobile Company, failed to land up in time for the event. This generally happens, but in this case the story had a twist! I was told by the event organizers that the actor had left for the hotel venue and would reach in 10 minutes. Since there were a couple of performances that were slated before the actor’s presence was required on stage, the client told us to start the event. While the first few performances went according to plan, the organizers were running helter skelter backstage because the actor had not arrived. In the melee they forgot to inform me about it. Going by the event run-down, on cue, I called for the actor to come on stage, for the car unveiling. The only response I got was silence, so I turned around to see the client gesturing wildly from the stage wings that the actor was still a couple of minutes away from the venue. Without batting an eyelid, I started egging the crowd on, saying the actor would only come on stage if the audience clapped and cheered loudly for him. I made the crowd do Mexican cheer section by section, ran contests, till the actor reached the venue and came on stage. The audience was none-the-wiser for what had actually happened!
Q. What are your future plans?
A. I am currently in the process of launching an Online Sports Radio channel and a Digital Video Content Channel. In the events and anchoring space, apart from other assignments, I have my contract with NBA for basketball coverage on SONY, and a deal with ISL for football coverage on STAR Sports over the next few months.
What I am really excited to be a part of, is hosting the DREAMHACK Virtual Gaming mega event in Mumbai from 21st-23rd December, 2018. This is a 72 hour non-stop 1st of its kind, international gaming festival, which will also feature world renowned artistes performing in the entertainment zone!
Q. What is your opinion about the Indian Event and Exhibitions Industry?
A. I believe that there is a lot of growth potential in this space. I read in a report by Ernst & Young with EEMA last year, that the events and activations industry in India is expected to cross Rs 10,000 crore mark by 2020-21. What was even more impressive to learn, was that the Events industry has been growing at a 16% CAGR, even overtaking the Indian media and entertainment (M&E) industry, which is saying a lot. The key drivers of growth drivers in this industry now are digital activations, the launch of a plethora of sports leagues, and also government & corporate initiatives to tap into the rural and Tier 2 & Tier 3 cities market.