IT HAS been a year and a half since the Covid-19 pandemic reared its ugly head.
With endless restrictions on movement imposed due to rising infections and deaths from the virus, people generally have been cut off from their loved ones for much of this period.
Humanity is suffering, and pandemic fatigue has set in.
Many are in need of social interaction and an outlet to air their grievances.
Luckily, modern technology has been somewhat of a saviour, enabling us to virtually connect with each other via smartphones, mobile apps and video calls, including to the friendly DJs at our favourite radio stations.
With online streaming, Malaysians living in different parts of the world can now connect to stations such as 988 FM and Suria FM.
It’s one way to break the overwhelming solitude – by listening to a comforting and friendly voice.Keeping love alive
Listeners who tune in to Suria FM’s Suria Cinta show (8pm to 1am, Sunday-Friday) find award-winning DJ Lin’s sultry voice soothing.
Lin, or Roslinda Abdul Majid, has more than 500,000 followers on her social media fan pages.
The 45-year-old single parent, who is also Suria FM’s general and station manager, has helmed the segment for 15 out of the 22 years spent pioneering the radio station.
While Lin’s show is mostly about listeners wanting to find love through her “Cari Cinta” matchmaking session and sharing their relationship issues, these days they also call to air problems they face due to the ongoing pandemic.
“All they want is someone to talk to, which I think is very important because they need to confront their problems.
“And I always try to be a good listener, ” she told StarMetro.“Since the MCO began last year, many who call in have been retrenched. They are unable to pay their bills. It’s sad.
“I usually come up with a few ideas, things they can do to approach their problems in a positive way. I assure them that they can survive through this period.
“Some still talk to me about their love issues, ” she said.
Lin reveals that some of her listeners are suffering because they have spouses with mental illness, or who are abusers.
“A lot of men have lost their jobs because of Covid-19 and they cannot fulfil their commitments to their family. This adds to their existing problems.
“People are stressed, and some, suicidal. They call me and end up crying.
“I speak to them and tell them that things will be alright, and they seem to feel a bit relieved after that, ” she said.
As a seasoned radio host, Lin feels a sense of responsibility to her listeners and fans, to help them deal with the problems they face in these challenging times.
“I also have a duty to create awareness among my fans about following SOP daily to combat the pandemic. My message to listeners is that we need to have patience and not give up, ” she added.
Lin has just been voted “The Most Trusted Radio Presenter in the Trusted Brands (TB) Award Malaysia 2021”, an annual award organised by Asia Reader’s Digest.
It has been running in Malaysia for 23 years, and the award, based on public votes, aims to showcase the most trusted Malaysian brands in more than 50 categories.
An empathetic ear
Over at Chinese radio station 988 FM, DJ Piau Ming’s show called Night Chat (8pm-midnight, Monday–Thursday) has listeners logging onto social media to interact with him.
Also known as PM Wang, this deejay does not take callers during the show; all his interactions with fans, who are mostly in their 20s to 40s, are via Facebook, WeChat, WhatsApp and Instagram.
“There is no consistent theme to my show, which has been on air since 2009. It all depends on what the topic of the day is.
“Usually, I pick up on what listeners want to share and get other people’s reactions and suggestions.
“I do sympathise and empathise with people during this time, and my show is a place where we rationalise what is happening at the moment, ” he said.
Night Chat, according to him, is for people to tune in as they wind down for the day, mostly talking about things happening within their community.
One listener, for example, was upset that she could not hold her wedding reception due to the movement control order.
Wang usually engages with other listeners to get their opinions on how to deal with a particular situation.
“The listener’s fiance decided it would not be wise to hold the reception and dream wedding at this time, suggesting instead that they just register the marriage, do a memorable video and put the money into something else.
“She loved the idea in the end.
“I love that I can help people put things in perspective. This is the support that people need right now, ” he said.
Wang feels being a radio DJ is his true calling as he has always been talkative, even as a child.
“I love radio because I get to see people’s stories from different angles and evaluate their issues intellectually.
“I get to understand different mindsets and offer opinions on what stand they can take.
“I am lucky to have this job, ” he said.
For the nocturnal ones, there is an alternative platform that people can go to seek interesting live conversations in the form of an audio-based social networking app called Clubhouse.
Husband-and-wife team Naweshad Shariff and Shamin Shaimah, both in their 30s, host a show called Midnight Malaysia from midnight to 2am daily.
While the virtual rooms on the app range from politics, the government and Covid-19 to more casual conversations, Naweshad and Shamin touch on topics that unite Malaysians.
Their whimsical programme offers support to those impacted or struggling to cope.
“We include topics like culture, heritage, history, arts, architecture, music, literature and cuisines, to name a few.
“There are also creative discussion methods, such as storytelling, singing, games, knowledge-sharing and personal experiences, ” said Naweshad.
But the most important mission of their show is that it is moderated in an open and friendly space that is respectful to all races, nationalities, religions and genders.
Their daily topics might be fun to talk on but they have been given much forethought, Naweshad said.
“We have a positive role to play during the show and if we make a false turn or give wrong advice, that could be detrimental to listeners, so we take it seriously, ” he added.