Open Mic Spotlight: Kankana Lohiyaa

NYF’s Open Mic Spotlight spends a few minutes each week with prominent Grand Jury members who judge creative entries from around the globe, each Spotlight interview shares the insights of content creators from the wonderful world of radio.

New York Festivals International Radio Awards jury of award-winning directors, producers, journalists, writers, actors, creative directors, composers, on-air talent, and programming executives are actively involved in creating the innovative content on radio today, their efforts have resulted in the selection of the 2018 New York Festivals Radio Award winners which will be announced at the annual Radio Awards ceremony on June 18th in New York City.

2018 Grand Jury member Kankana Lohiyaa is National Music Head for 94.3 MY FM (DB Corps Ltd) India.  With  over 12 years of experience in Radio Programming & Production

Kankana Lohiyaa

(Music & Product). Kankana launched 13 new stations: 9 new stations in Maharashtra, 1 in Rajasthan, 1 in Gujarat and 2 in Punjab. During that time she hired a completely new team, groomed them and raised them to current performances. An award-winning programmer, her ideas have won numerous awards both nationally and internationally. Kankana has a track for creating & executing content ideas for on air programs to enhance listener-ship, new promos for shows and stationality, on air special shows & celebrity management, contests.

New York Festivals: How did you get your start in the radio industry?

Kankana Lohiyaa: Radio happened by design to me as I grew up in a home where radio was always given preference over television, even when the television was the new buzz word.

Entry to radio industry happened to me by chance. I was working with India’s largest CDMA mobile telephone company, handling the customer support. It so happened that during break-time, over a cup of coffee, I was explaining to my colleague the relationship between our brain and music and how in most of us, music taste gets frozen at some point of time.

Not known to me was the fact that the group I worked with, has ventured in to private FM radio business in 2005. Some members of the national launch team heard that conversation and something triggered. The team lead offered me a job as a music manager. I refused without realising. The team came to meet me again the next day and after a lot of their cajoling, I agreed.  The thing is neither did I have any idea of the kind of jobs radio had at that point, nor did I ever realise why they picked me up amongst the entire lot.

To cut a long story short, before I realised, I was a part of the radio team at Jhansi. Being the launch phase, and me being a non-industry person, I picked up every job I was asked to do. From assisting RJs to prepare their shows, to handle the software that run the music log, to ensure that transmission starts in time and all relevant reports are sent back to our Head Office that too in time. It was a challenging time, but somehow the love for radio from a young age propelled me forward to do things others would find not so exciting to do. I guess, I picked up the entire process of launch and running of a radio station there. That was 20/12/2006. Around 12 years hence, I currently enjoy the role of Product Head (a person responsible for looking after the strategies of programming and marketing for the region he or she handles) along with being the part that I love the most, handling the music for all 30 stations of the network I work now.

New York Festivals: What was the turning point in your career?

Kankana Lohiyaa: I am a lawyer by education with a Gold Medal to boot. On a whim I had taken up the summer job at telecom because I couldn’t afford to sit idle. It was more to utilize my time than to think of a career. When the radio team dropped in at our work place to plan for the launch of radio operations. I guess that’s when, however unknowingly, I got sucked in to and assimilated in to the world of radio. Yeah, what an assimilation it has been.

New York Festivals: Did you have a mentor, if so how did they help you achieve your career goals?

Kankana Lohiyaa: I do not believe in mentor-ship but I believe in picking up the best from everyone. However, the biggest influence on my life has been my mother. Being from a small town of Jhansi, where the entire city is considered as a conservative society, she never had an iota of backward thinking. She was bold, daring, an extremely simple yet sorted kind of a personality. She was probably the first judge in that region of a consumer forum. She mentored me in her own way. Teaching the values, the ethics, the trials and tribulations of an independent career woman and most important of all, the basics of humanity. I owe my entire personality and professional career to her teachings which have given me the right fillip whenever I was down and out.

New York Festivals: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Kankana Lohiyaa: Oh, I will go back to the teachings of my mother. She firmly believed in one mantra, that every injury has a positive line. I have seen this happening so many times in my career, to me and to so many others. Sometimes, what you deserve come to you after a lot of hardship but finally, the right ones win.

Another thing taught by her again which I never forget; to make sure that I end my day with no regrets. She meant “don’t die wondering.

New York Festivals: What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen in the industry?

Kankana Lohiyaa: Today, employees are responsible for their own training and career path. If you don’t remain relevant, you will be jettisoned and replaced.

One of the biggest change that I have seen is technology. With social media having become the new norm, things spreads faster than ever.

New York Festivals: Where do you see the industry moving in the next 5 years?

Kankana Lohiyaa: Radio is growing and the entire pie is getting bigger. The accessibility of music has seen tremendous expansion and diversification. While younger listeners opt for technologically advanced methods, traditional methods like radio continue to be strong drivers and carriers of live entertainment. The longevity of this medium is astounding…it has withstood the tests of time…and it will continue to do so.

New York Festivals: What three words describe you as a content creator?

Kankana Lohiyaa: Swim against the tide.

New York Festivals: What is the responsibility of journalists in today’s world?

Kankana Lohiyaa:  Core quality is Question. Question every single thing. Every single occurrence. Every single movement. Every single situation.

New York Festivals: What program do you wish you created?

Kankana Lohiyaa: A detective show on radio. I am intrigued by Benedict Cummerbatch’s Sherlock created by BBC. I always think, how it would pan out on radio.

New York Festivals: What creative projects are next for you?

Kankana Lohiyaa: I am working on a new concept of 6 second stories. Smallest communication for an entire story.

New York Festivals: What do you think are the hallmarks of award-winning work?

Kankana Lohiyaa: Consumer Insight, Innovation and Opportunity for the consumer to engage with the content.

New York Festivals: What would be your dream job?

Kankana Lohiyaa: Every day when I wake up, I write down my dream of the night. I feel one of these days I will fulfill them all. Secretly, I want to be a coffee Barista. Don’t laugh….the fragrance of freshly ground coffee beans is my poison and baking cakes is my therapy.

Join NYF on Monday, April 18th in New York City for the 2018 Radio Awards gala. Find out who will take home the Gold, Silver, and Bronze trophies and the prestigious Grand Awards.  For more information, please visit:,7,15

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