2021 is a milestone year for City Harvest Church’s online station City Radio (CR), which turned 10 on 22 April. In this commemorative story, City Radio’s DJs share their favourite memories of serving in this ministry.
In its 10 years as a ministry of City Harvest Church, City Radio has done much more than provide the church with wholesome and spiritual programmes—it has raised a generation of DJs, who have themselves been touched by serving the station in different capacities. We take a look back at a decade of CR through their eyes.
IT ALL BEGAN WHEN…
The year was 2011. In a small little room at the then-church office at Suntec Tower Three, Berrnard Loh, now the producer of CR, conducted the first recording for Strums, a music programme.
That was to be the humble beginning of CR, which grew from a one-man show to a family of more than 40 volunteers connecting with church members every week without fail, through eight programmes in different languages.
At the start of every programme, the first thing the listener hears is the iconic CR jingle—it’s a musical phrase that listeners now identify CR with. But did you know, this catchy jingle was written by a pastor of an affiliate church in The Harvest Network?
Pastor Dimas Wibisono, 37, an associate pastor of GPdI Pillars In Christ, was a staff member of City Harvest Church that year. He worked as a zone administrator helping Pastor Aries Zulkarnain oversee the Indonesian Service. He was also one of the pioneer Indonesian DJs of CR.
“I will always remember the day that jingle was created,” Pastor Dimas recalls. “The process was actually pretty quick. Bernard told me that City Radio needed a jingle. I was with Raymond Sigarlaki (one of the Music Directors in CityWorship). He played his guitar and spontaneously I came up with the melody and started to sing. The whole process took only five to seven minutes. Praise God that we are still able to hear it today!”
Pastor Dimas looks back with fondness on the early days of the online station, which was a rare thing in its time. “CR was a visionary and bold move 10 years ago and it keeps getting better and more mature. It’s proven because culture has shifted to what CR has already been doing for a long time, for example, podcasting. Everybody listens to podcasts now. “
Another pioneering Indonesian DJ, financial consultant, Ishak Budiman, 32 reflects on CR’s development over the years.
“CR has grown from being a ministry made of people who availed themselves to serve a need in the church, to a fantastic community that brings to their listeners understanding and a deeper meaning and purpose in their Christian lives. It’s a platform where listeners can be heard. CR has grown to be so much more than a ministry—it is a family that has seen a regeneration. The CR of today is so vibrant with the dynamics of passionate and talented young people coupled with the wisdom and experience of those who have been with CR since its genesis,” he says.
EMPOWERING THE YOUTHS
One of the highlights of this ministry are the youths that come through our ranks. Many joined us when they were students and are right now still fervently serving CR as young adults. In fact, a few of them have gone on the airwaves of our national radio stations.
Then the youngest DJ at 14, Ian Tan, now 23, has seen the station grow as he grew up.
“I’ve been privileged to have seen CR grow literally from it just being Bernard helming the station, to Mervyn joining to further support and expand it,” Ian remembers. “And the number of DJs we had in the ministry just kept growing!”
He adds, “But the biggest growth that I’ve witnessed is how CR continues to keep pushing boundaries. I mean, come on, a 24-hour Christian Radio Programme (City Radio Air)? A programme tailormade to complement your quiet time (Holy Ground)? I think that besides the reach of CR and the vision of being here to connect, the station has grown in its sensitivity to know and fulfil the growing needs of our audience.”
The experience of serving in CR helped Ian through his school years, and even led to an internship with Class 95FM, a top English-language radio station in Singapore.
Recounting his years with the ministry, Ian says, “I joined when I was 14 and now I’m 23 so I’ve been here almost every single anniversary! On a personal level, my fellowship with Bernard and Mervyn had an impact on my tertiary education and influenced my decision to pursue a Diploma in Mass Communication from Ngee Ann Polytechnic. Doors were then open for a radio internship with Class 95FM, which led to me being hired there as a producer.”
Ian is grateful for the opportunities he received in his nine years with CR. “I’ve had the chance to interview so many people on the programmes, from recording artists to preachers—that really taught me how to hone my interview skills too! On a superficial level, I would never have imagined I’d have the guts and opportunity to chat with these people, but simply spending time with them and chatting has been a game changer for me.”
A NEW GENERATION OF YOUTH DJS
Since the start, CR has not stopped bringing in newer and younger volunteers. Its aim as a ministry is, first, to give youths a platform to fulfil their dream of hosting their own radio programme, and more importantly, to nurture and help them connect with the church community, not just in CHC but beyond its walls.
Two of the current DJs, students Nicole Tay, 16 and Dion Tan, 17, who recently ended their season on the youth programme Recess, share how their lives have been impacted by serving in CR.
“I have only been in CR for two years but in that time, the small little changes in the bonds in our CR family has helped me feel so welcome. CR has always been a safe space to make mistakes and to learn from them and I’m just so thankful to have City Radio as my family and ministry,” says Nicole. “I joined CR when I was 14 and I have never regretted it. CR has become the place I can freely express myself and I have grown to love my voice so much more. I’ve made so many good friends and learnt how to serve God by doing that things that I love.”
Dion, who is currently waiting to embark on a diploma course, says: ”CR has helped me become more sensitive to listening to God’s voice, and to be comfortable being myself. Since CR is a ministry that does a lot of behind-the-scenes work, most of us are heard more than we are seen.
“This has changed the way I have grown to listen when God speaks to me. Just like how one listens to CR’s programmes, I have learnt that it is only when I am truly quiet—without the sound of distractions—that I can hear the still small voice of God. Doing this has helped me feel closer to God, and I now have an even more personal relationship with Him, where I know that I have nothing to hide.”
THE NEXT 10 YEARS
A decade is just the beginning. There is so much more in store for CR and its listeners.
Pastor Dimas says, “I pray and believe that CR will always be a blessing. I believe it will become God’s answer to everyone who tunes in. I hope that CR will reach more people and deliver God’s love through its creative programmes—it will be a relevant radio station in every season.”
Echoing Pastor Dimas, Ishak says, “My prayer is that for CR to never stop growing and transforming through the years, that it will always be a relevant voice that will transcend generations across denominations.”
Ian’s prayer for CR is that it will one day become a full-fledged FM radio station with a permanent studio and regular show belts. “But more importantly, I pray for us continue to be sensitive to the growing needs of our audience is and be ready to make changes to meet them.”
Nicole and Dion hope that CR will extend its reach in connecting people in the church community.
“I hope to see CR reaching out to even more people and DJs touching their lives with our words,” says Nicole. “I think it’s important that our content is not only fun and laughter, but also God-centred. I really hope that CR will be a bridge to a great revival and serve as a platform to spread the gospel!”
Dion adds, “I look forward to seeing more members in the ministry, serving God by connecting to people with their voices. And I hope that we can all share our experiences together, and be more relatable to our audiences. Most importantly, I hope that CR never ever slows down, but continues to be a blessing to every single listener, and bring them so much closer to God than they already are.”