On CityRadio’s third anniversary, City News talks to program producer Bernard Loh about how the station has grown.
That is the topic of last week’s episode of “Coffee with Kong” on CityRadio, Singapore’s only Christian online radio station, based from City Harvest Church.
Not resisting the temptation to shy away from hot button Christian topics including Holy Spirit phenomena such as the above, it is no wonder CR has garnered an impressive average of 15,000 listeners who tune in weekly, despite the fact that it just turned three last week. The online radio station was launched on Apr. 22, 2011.
Theology aside, “Coffee with Kong”, which features conversations with CHC’s senior pastor, Kong Hee, deals with a wide range of lifestyle subjects such as managing crisis, overcoming anxiety, singlehood, Christian marriage and loneliness.
The content differs slightly from what Kong shares on stage in his sermons, in part due to the more intimate setting, shares program producer Bernard Loh.
“One reason ‘Coffee with Kong’ works is because of its format, which appeals to the human need to—for lack of a better word—eavesdrop. It’s something like a private phone call with my pastor-friend, where I can ask him about things like the reality of heaven, abortion, anything, really …,” Loh explains.
There is also a candid element to the show, as Kong is not informed of the week’s question beforehand; many of the program’s topics are selected from emails submitted by listeners. In one particularly heartrending episode, Kong was posed a question from a female listener struggling with a miscarriage—why do bad things happen to good people?
Besides “Coffee with Kong,” there are six other programs on air, in various languages including Bahasa Indonesia and Mandarin. 40 volunteer DJs, including a lawyer, a medical writer, a nurse and even a manhunt pageant winner, take turns hosting the show.
“Hearing the programs that I’ve helped produced gives me a sense of fulfilment and joy. I’m also thankful to God to use me in helping our DJs utilise their talents and grow in their passions, especially with the younger ones whom I’ve worked with. Seeing them improve in their presenting skills and reading every positive email that listeners send in, is like watching my own kids grow up,” says program editor Mervyn Lim, the only other full-time DJ besides Loh.
Last year, CityRadio roped in its youngest DJ ever, Ian Tan, 15, who hosted the program “Have You Ever” with his cellgroup leader, Alice T. Chia. It features short interviews with people such as CHC’s advisory chairman and pastor, Dr A R Bernard and Phil Pringle respectively—on topics that are refreshingly offbeat (at least by the standards of Christian radio) and accessible to the youth—for example, “If you could time travel, how far back would you go?”
Subsequently, two of Tan’s cellgroup members, Emiko Ong and Jerome Choong, both 12, came aboard to host a new program, “Have You Heard”, featuring music and interviews with some of the biggest names in Christian music today, such as Jesus Culture, Darlene Zschech, Michael W. Smith and the Planetshakers. “Despite their youth, their chemistry on-air is electrifying and they speak really well,” says Loh with pride.
On that note, Loh credits part of the station’s success to the immense support it has received from record labels such as Halo Media (formerly known as Integrity Music), KI Entertainment and Alby. The common reaction expressed by representatives from these companies is one of excitement, seeing as CR is the only one of its kind in Singapore.
And, it is creating an impact beyond the four walls of the church. Recently, CR received an email from a young Singaporean Christian lady currently studying overseas. In the email, she shared how the quality of CityRadio’s shows, in particular “Have You Ever” and “Coffee with Kong,” led her younger siblings, all of whom were non-believers, to pay a visit to CHC. It turned out to be a life-changing visit, as one by one they found God at the church, and received Jesus into their hearts.
“When the youth can speak with such maturity and confidence, it speaks a lot about the station and the church. My testimony (of my family’s salvation) could have only been possible because of a youth’s influence through CityRadio,” she said in the email.
“We have set out to sincerely wanting to connect with everyone who tunes in. And that’s what we are going to keep doing. We just want to serve God, through radio,” says Loh.
Log on to www.cityradio.sg to catch fresh episodes of its programs every week.