Grand Jury Confidential: Astha Mandiratta

Each week in 2016, New York Festivals Grand Jury Confidential shared an interview with one of the Radio Program Awards award-winning Grand Jury members. These brief interviews provided  insights from their personal path to success and their views on all things radio. The interview series would not be possible without the brilliant global radio executives who are recruited to select the World’s Best Radio Programs.

Astha Mandiratta, National Head - Client Solutions for ETV News Network

2016 Grand Jury member, Astha Mandiratta is National Head – Client Solutions for ETV News Network, the largest regional news network of India with 10 regional channels, covering 15 states, and is part of the country’s biggest network, Network 18.

Ms. Mandiratta has almost 10 years in media, and has served for 6 years anchoring various television celebrity talk shows on ETV & Star news. She worked for 4 years in radio with 94.3 MY FM – Dainik Bhaskar Group, where she was responsible for programming for Rajasthan. Her prime focus had always been working towards gender sensitivity.

Keep reading to find out more about Astha, including early leadership lessons, her favorite program that she created, her evolution in the world of radio and much more.

New York Festivals: What’s the most important thing you learned from your first job?

Astha Mandiratta: My first job taught me the golden rule “live your job” or “Passion” is what we can say in one word! My very first day of duty went on for some 36 hours, as there were floods and I was in on a news channel working as a new joinee and trying to report every bit! This was the way the media world extended its welcome to me. I learnt in the very initial days of my career that if you don’t live your job you can’t excel. So, I never counted my duty hours. I never regretted missing a few dinners and parties and this was purely because I was into love with what I was doing and I was living it!

New York Festivals: What were some early leadership lessons for you?

Astha Mandiratta: All due credits to Ms.Vibha Kaul, my first boss, she taught me to lead from the front, show your team how to execute things rather than simply giving orders.

One other very important lesson was always stand by your team, not just in success, but in failures as well. This keeps the team motivated and gives them support to try new things, as they are assured that you shall manage if things go for a toss and this really works.

Always be open to feedback and suggestions from the team, this makes the team take collective responsibility of whatever assignment you do, as everyone had contributed towards it.

Lastly and very critical, be approachable! Your team should be able to reach you directly without any fear.

New York Festivals: What qualities are the most important to have?

Astha Mandiratta: A positive attitude towards trying new things and the passion to achieve it are the two most important qualities required in every field. I firmly believe that all battles are fought in the mind first, so if your attitude is positive, you will surely make it.

New York Festivals: Tell us a bit about your evolution in the radio industry?

Astha Mandiratta: I joined radio after 5 years of television experience, hoping to get into one of the most colorful medium of songs and I was absolutely right.. There was vibrancy in the medium and moreover radio was in an experimental phase in India. One very important aspect of our industry is customer centricity, so the more you understand your listener, the better your programming and music selection. We worshiped this rule of customer centricity at MY FM. We identified issues that were affecting society and thus planned some very interesting campaigns around gender sensitivity, saving water and a few more society related issues which helped our brand to build empathy with listeners. I ensured that every song which the station played was well researched amongst people of the city and was handpicked, rather than playing all tracks of any new release, thus making the sound of station more and more entertaining.

New York Festivals: What was a defining moment in your career?

Astha Mandiratta: For television, I would say when the cookery show I was anchoring and producing remained in the number one position for 16 consecutive weeks across national news channels, in spite of that fact that I was working with ETV News Network, a regional media house and my show was being aired only in North India. The USP of the show was that all the recipes that were aired had the most readily available ingredients blended to taste out as most exotic delicacies.

For radio, I would say, in April 2015 when I conceived the idea of Radio’s first reality show “Paiso ka Ped” (Money Tree). Along with my team we took a pun on our country’s age saying that yes, money can be grown on trees! So we made a tree shaped structure with 5 lac INR notes in place of leaves. The contest was, at any given time your one hand should be in contact with the branch of tree or the one who sticks to the tree for maximum duration wins the cash prize. The activity went on for a nonstop 69 hours with some 30 participants glued to the tree and at 70th hour we finally got one winner as the rest had lost their patience. Every bit of the 69 hours was taken LIVE on air and it was a huge talking point in itself. The journey was full of emotions and thrill throughout. It is now even in Google search if you one types “Paiso ka Ped’ you can see all the details!

New York Festivals: What’s your favorite radio program that you created?

Astha Mandiratta: My favorite Radio show was an anti teasing campaign “BOL” meaning “Speak Up” where we made more than 1 lac people of Jaipur city to sign pledge, to speak up against increasing crimes towards females. We constructed a modular jail and 2 of our jocks gave voluntary arrest, and said would come out only when people sign pledge! The campaign lasted for 36 hours nonstop on the ground and moved to the entire city for the cause and included interviews of the girls who have faced such situations. In addition, counselors for right parenting and powerful women of city were taken on air, there were special shows which were dedicated on how to handle such situation alone, and self defense tools like pepper sprays were distributes to females. Being a girl, this gave me a great sense of satisfaction as I contributed my bit towards the cause. This also made us win Laadli National award for gender sensitivity.

For more information on the New York Festivals International Radio Program Awards please visit: Stay Tuned, the 2017 Radio Awards competition opens  January 11th.

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