The smooth tone of her voice immediately gets you — probably why Shraddha Shrestha appeals to so many listeners. Shraddha is a radio jockey based in Dallas, a dream she wove during her childhood. “Growing up in Dolakha, I belonged to a lower middle class family and all we had was a radio for entertainment. This had a lasting impact on me,” recalls Shraddha.
She took the traditional route of an education in business management. Also, she says she could not afford a radio jockey training then. “But I kept that dream alive somewhere in my subconscious,” Shraddha shares. When she saw a vacancy advertisement for RJ in a FM station in Dallas, on impulse she decided to audition and was selected. Thus began her journey as radio show producer and host with Radio Namaste Nepal in Dallas. She says that being on air is “a wonderful feeling. I still get butterflies in my stomach before every show. It is a good sign to be nervous or else it means you have become familiar with your job and may not give it your best.”
Shraddha is also the CEO and Co-owner of Yeti Insurance Agency and Co-founder of Yeti Foundation. In a conversation with WOW, she talks about her passion, about running a Nepali show abroad, and her work in philanthropy in Nepal. Excerpts:
When did you realise that you wanted to be a Radio Presenter?
I was born and raised in Dolakha, a developing district. I am the eldest daughter in my family followed by two sisters and a brother. One day my father decided that a better future for his children would only be possible if they got a better education. So, we migrated to Kathmandu. At that time, we belonged to a lower-middle-class family though things are different now. We used to share a single bedroom and all we had was a radio for entertainment. I was curious and always hooked to the radio. My kid brain used to think that there was an actual person inside that radio. Later I found out about what a studio is and how RJs run the show. I was fascinated. Their voice and articulation mesmerized me. I used to write letters to my favourite RJs and dream about becoming one someday.
My father is one of my most significant cheerleaders. He used to bring blank cassettes to record my voice. I wanted to become a radio personality so badly that I started looking for radio stations that would hire me after my SLC. My dream could not be fulfilled as RJ training was expensive, so I just let it go. But I kept my dream alive in my subconscious until I saw a vacancy advertisement for a RJ in an FM station in Dallas, and thus began my journey.
What were some obstacles you had to overcome to air a Nepali show abroad?
In 2016, I did a show on an online platform before I got the opportunity in an actual FM station. A few of my friends and seniors developed an online radio where I used to do a show twice a week. While doing that show, I used to promote it on my Facebook page. One of my sisters heard my show and connected me with a prominent RJ of Nepal, Sumeet Sigdel, who got me into Radio Salam Namaste. It used to air in AM frequency. The radio got shut down due to financial crisis in six months, and I had to look for other options. There was another radio station which was an hour away from my home. I never got paid on any radio platform as a student. I didn’t have a car at that time, so I used to take an Uber which would cost me $50 to go back and forth. For a student, it was a considerable amount, but my passion was bigger than anything at that moment.
What are some changes in you after becoming a Radio Presenter?
I can relate with people really well these days. I take on-air callers and hear their stories. To be able to talk with strangers who love you and wait for your show and to listen to your voice makes me want to do more and be a better person each day.
What is the highlight of having a radio show?
I think it is connecting with people. You live in the same city and don’t know each other. If not for the radio, I would never know these people existed, but radio has been that medium to connect with them. Learning about them and playing Nepali songs that they want to listen to is the best part.
You also run an insurance company. Tell us about that…
I learnt business basics from my father and got advanced knowledge through my mentor Suraj Poudyal who is also my business partner. We founded Yeti Insurance with the mission of helping people out with better services. We are one of the fastest-growing insurance agencies in Dallas, with 4.9-star ratings.
What are your three life lessons…
• Always do good, and it will come back to you in an unexpected way.
• Everyone is not your friend. Keep your circle very small.
• Your significant achievements are not money and wealth. It’s how many lives and souls you have touched and inspired.
You spoke about some of the charitable contributions you aim to make in Nepal for the underprivileged, can you tell our readers about them?
During my visit to Nepal in 2018, I started the Bishnu-Ishwori Scholarship for unprivileged children under my parents name. We have been providing scholarships to more than ten students since then. We have recently announced the Yeti Foundation where three sister companies called Yeti Insurance, Yeti Homes and Yeti Roofing work jointly to build health posts and schools in remote areas of Nepal. We are actively working on the blueprint of our projects which will officially begin in 2022.
What motivates you in your work?
My biggest motivation is my upbringing where I was taught to be kind to humankind and do better for humanity. I have seen my family struggle to meet our very basic needs. I studied in a government school till the 4th standard where I had a tough time managing my school supplies and a few rupees for tuition fee. Those times and my roots motivate me to do better each day.
How do you perceive the Nepali community living in the US?
Dallas has a solid Nepali community where we help one another in need. Nepalis living abroad have a different kind of love for one another. Despite political, cultural and geographical differences, people here unite for a better and bigger cause.
Your future plans…
From an educational aspect, I plan to pursue my MBA soon. Career-wise, I am expanding Yeti Insurance and various projects of Yeti Foundation. I am also planning to start a business in Nepal very soon.