Pamela Chong and Janice Yap are making their presence felt on the airwaves.
IT is 4.30am and Pamela Chong is awake with a grin on her face.
“The first thing you should do when you wake up is smile. I might look like a mad woman smiling to myself, but rather than feeling sluggish, it helps me get on with the day,” said the chirpy 30-year-old radio announcer in an interview with Star2.
Chong was sharing about how she first found it hard waking up for her 5.30am call time. The former Amazing Race Asia contestant, actress and emcee started co-anchoring Capital FM’s Capital Breakfast show since last October, her first foray into radio broadcast.
Chong, who previously spent most of her nights hosting or attending dinner functions, shared that she has had to sacrifice many night events since taking on the job.
“Even when you’re out for dinner with friends and everyone’s relaxed and having a good time, you’re anxious, wondering why the food isn’t here yet. And it’s only 8pm!” she said candidly, adding that she tries to get to bed by 9.30pm on weeknights.
“We have no life!” Janice Yap chimed in, half-jokingly. It is also Yap’s first time making her mark in radio, anchoring the Capital Breakfast show alongside Chong.
The 32-year-old who wakes up jumping out of bed (“I literally jump out of bed to make sure I wake up”) – is a vocal coach and the lead vocalist of local band Janice And The Supertank.
Chong and Yap learned the radio station was looking for fresh personalities through a mutual friend and landed the gig after nailing their auditions and call backs.
“With this job, I can set the record straight. I’m not a man and my name is Janice,” Yap said, trailing off with a laugh.
The singer-songwriter explained she has often been mistaken for a man when calling customer service lines and has had her name mispronounced countless times (“the worst one was Jan-Ice”). But Yap isn’t insecure about sharing her voice with the world, stating instead, “I think a lower voice commands more attention.”
These new additions to Capital FM – Chong, Yap as well as The Jam Break’s Isabel – are part of the radio station’s initiative to introduce new voices with varied backgrounds.
“For example,” Yap said, “sometimes people don’t pay attention to world issues because they’re delivered in such a serious way. So we present them from a layperson’s point of view. We’re honest, curious and sometimes, clueless as well to what’s going on everywhere.”
“The Capital Breakfast show is basically two girls, having a chat, talking about the world,” Chong summed up.
Some of the segments listeners can look forward to in the weekday, 6am to 10am show include World Hour where Chong and Yap will share news (in their own way, of course) from around the globe as well as topics that interest women – be it health, relationships or career. In Her Shoes see the deejays interviewing women from all walks of life. And to understand the male psyche better, the ladies will have a male guest over in Talking To Mars.
To balance things out, there are lighthearted segments like the Cool Cat Countdown featuring the deejays’ very own countdown of creatively-themed songs (“Top 10 songs to dedicate to the boss you hate”); Lol Hour comprising hilarious jokes, riddles and one-liners; Trending Hour featuring trending topics on social media; and a segment for “weird” news stories from around the world (“The woman who married a ferris wheel”).
As the radio deejays are given full control over the show’s content, the ladies are not at all mere talking heads, pouring in hours of research for each show.
“When we first started out, we were very slow, spending two hours just to prepare for a one-hour segment. But we’re a lot quicker now,” Chong shared.
Another challenge, naturally, was getting used to the medium.
“In radio, there cannot be long pauses otherwise listeners will be wondering what’s happening.
“And everything has to be concise and to-the-point. There was one time where we were only supposed to talk for a minute but ended up going on for five minutes,” Yap recalled.
Still, the ultimate uphill slope lies in changing the radio listener’s perception of a female-centric radio station.
“When you think of Capital FM, immediately you think feminism, more power to women, or women are always right. Where in fact, we’re not here to say women are the best; we’re here to be a friend, to help women understand themselves and for men to understand them, too, and vice versa.”
“The challenge also lies in the fact that we’re the only women’s station right now, so the expectation is quite high. Plus, everyone has a different expectation of what it should be,” Yap chipped in.
Nevertheless, the ladies are unfazed by the obstacles laid on the journey ahead. In fact, Chong believes her stint at the radio station is nothing short of a privilege: “How often do people go to work and get to laugh so early in the morning?”
Tune into the Capital Breakfast show on weekdays, 6am to 10am, on Capital FM.