Interview By: Nudrat Mustafa
Getting people hooked to your voice is a pretty tough job, since they have not seen you! We have a star who not only does it but does it to perfection. Sophie is a name we are sure, none of us is unaware of. To describe her in few words- she is very charming, extremely energetic and super sweet! We are sure you would love knowing about her as much as we did!
- Please tell us about your family, education and date of birth…
My family always stressed on education and was very particular about it. My father’s a chemical engineer & a consultant for various paper board industries. My mother used to be a professor for a long time and then recently retired. My elder brother is a mechanical engineer & also an IT solutions expert, working at Schlumberger and currently resides in Dubai with his wife & kids. I’m the baby of the house! I have done my Masters in Mass Communication and my date of birth is the 27th of July, which makes me a Leo 🙂
- What sparked your interest to be a host as well as join the radio?
The field of media always fascinated me as a kid and I was drawn to it. I got into radio by chance and hosting is something that always came naturally to me even as a kid, so I was bound to do it professionally as well. The offers of hosting different events professionally, came to me once I joined the radio.
- How did you enter the industry?
I had a friend who worked at FM91 and was looking for female RJs. She knew I had a good connection with our friends, so thought I’ll spread the word around. When I came to visit her, she told me to audition spontaneously and the rest, as they say, is history 🙂
- Do you think there is some professional training required to host shows or even be a RJ since it requires having a relatively fine accent?
In order to be on the radio first up, 2 things are important- Your clarity of words and your voice quality. You can always practice on your accent, speed, flow, knowledge of music, interactivity etc later on. Certain training sessions are done on the radio before anyone gets a show but that is only for practice. Everything else comes once the show is on air and there is live feedback. However, I do feel like radio stations should give proper training sessions to new RJs before recruiting them with basic ethics, pointers etc that are required for hosting live shows and learning to tackle various situations on the spot.
- So far how has been your experience of working with radio?
The best 10 years of my life!
- Has the radio industry improved over the past years? What changes should be there to make it a more professional and booming industry?
Yes and no. Yes because of the advancements in technology, as well as the fact that it has become more tangible for people and hence, more reachable. People can relate to RJs, interact with them and voice their opinions. No because of certain radio stations, which do not filter content on the radio and are unable to properly monitor their RJs and they end up saying things which they shouldn’t be saying on air and doing things they shouldn’t be doing as professional radio jocks.
The changes should be with respect to monitoring the RJs and their content and also giving more time to programming. Nowadays it is all about marketing and the social media. We shouldn’t forget that the true essence of the radio is in music and the content itself. Also, a lot of focus on Pakistani music and local content with research needs to be integrated. Radio has power, so as a platform, entertainment and awareness should go hand in hand.
- Being a radio person for a long time, can you guide our young readers that what opportunities are there in your field for them?
Most certainly. Just like most organisations, radio stations have different departments as well. There’s Marketing/PR, Programming, Outdoor, Digital, Production, Sales, Accounts & then the management. People who like script writing, are good with audio/visual production, hosting, administrative work, PR, communication skills, compiling playlists, digital strategies, making podcasts etc can all join the radio with respect to their interest and aptitude. I have spent a decade at FM91 and I started off as an RJ, then became a producer, the programming manager, a marketer and now finally the Marketing Head at the station. Radio is all about passion, since it’s reach is massive.
- Evening Drive Time or Head Over Heels- which one you enjoyed the most? Reason?
Head Over Heels will always be special for me because it was my first ever show and gave me the base that was needed 🙂 My old listeners are still close to my heart and the experience of back in the day is cherished. However, having said that, Drive On has it’s own charm and fan following and has me on my toes all the time, which I love!
- We loved ‘Weekend World with Sophie’. How was your experience of hosting a show for television? Anything similar coming again sometime soon or no?
Thank you so much. I loved it too! It was amazing. The team was fantastic and I really enjoyed bringing out the concrete, strong and positive side of Pakistan to the world. I used to do my own research and drive the show’s direction according to my own liking, thanks to the wonderful team I had in Omer, Misha & Kianat. I do some free lance TV work here and there but nothing caught my attention like Weekend World. If I get something substantial to host, I wouldn’t take time to say yes!
- What is the best and worst thing about hosting a T.V show? Similarly tell us what’s the best and worst thing about being a RJ?
The best thing is the reach of television and also watching yourself on the screen. Aray uss din mainay aap ko TV par dekha hai always works best 😉 The worst thing is taking hours to get ready for it. I wish we could do TV in our PJs and be all comfy! The best part about radio is that you can play around with your vocals and your words without the pressure of any set or visuals etc, so the comfort zone is there. I have yet to discover the worse part in radio 😉
- Share with us some of your upcoming projects.
Hosting corporate and non corporate events along with my radio work keeps me quite busy though. I recorded a digital show with the founder of Foodies R Us, Mr Asad Sheikh, on the most popular street food in Lahore a few months ago. Hopefully it would be releasing online soon. I have been made the Shaukat Khanum Institute Ambassador(SKIA) for 2017 for which I am very grateful and happy. I have hosted a lot of donation drives and charity events for SKMCH recently because the cause is close to my heart and will continue to do so. I keep on doing voice over projects as well. I am working on my own business initiative, which is going to be starting off end of this year/early next year inshAllah, for which right now I am keeping mum about but will be keeping everyone updated about soon. I like to build suspense 😉
- Describe a typical day of yours.
I wake up at 10am, check all my work emails/messages, reply to them. Make important calls. Leave for work around 12pm and start my meeting sessions with different clients and then my own team. By the time it’s 5pm, my show comes up which keep me busy blabbering away on the airwaves till 8pm. Then I wrap up my work and head home around 8:30pm. By the time I reach home it’s 9pm, I spend quality time with my parents, do some exercise, have dinner and watch my favourite TV show seasons before going to sleep. Work keeps on happening in-between. Over the weekend, I do a lot of hosting for corporate/non corporate events as well as humanitarian work so it keeps me busy mostly 7 days a week. So a typical day for me is jam-packed from 10am-9pm!
- Do you eat nutritiously? How often do you exercise or go to the gym?
I’d like to believe I do, with a little bit of indulgence over the weekend. I don’t go to the gym but I dance everyday for half an hour and do stretches when I wake up in the morning.
- Fb, twitter, insta-which social medium is your favourite and why?
I enjoy Twitter the most because I don’t really have anyone’s newsfeed thrust upon me 😉 Also, I like the fact that it’s direct and better for professional connections.
- Can you talk about a fan encounter that completely took you by surprise?
They happen all the time actually. I have had my good share of I love you SSSS Sophieee and aren’t surprised by them anymore 😉
- What advice would you give through the platform of Social Diary Magazine to the youngsters who look up to you as their inspiration?
To keep going. Everything in life depends on your perception as you can make a heaven out of hell and hell out of heaven. Learn from your mistakes, make pain your strength and WORK HARD. There will be failures, consider them stepping stones to success and do not give up!
- Quick choose:
Your favourite Actor/Actress?
Shahrukh Khan & Leonardo Di Caprio / Meryl Streep & Kate Winslet
Your celebrity crush?
Shahrukh Khan / Leonardo Di Caprio
Your idea of a perfect man?
Anyone who is happy to accept himself with all imperfections and sees others the same way
Your best buddy?
Radio or TV?
I absolutely love doing TV but my heart is with Radio <3
Lahore or Karachi?
Lahore to live in & Karachi to eat in!
Pepsi or Coke?
Zaalima saada paani pila day?
Meat or Vegetables?
MEAT. Anytime, anywhere
Fawad Khan or Shaan?
I adore Shaan but if I had to pick I’d go with Fawad Khan 😉
Guilty pleasure food vice?
Desi Pakistani Chinese, full oily!
Movie or books?
Books as a kid, movies now as an adult
Morning or night?
Either of the two. I make the most of my time, not the other way around. Although I must admit, I can’t get up too early in the morning now!