Chasing His Vision

A passion in journalism and an entrepreneurial drive led undergraduate Kyle Malinda-White (CS’19) to start Popspoken.com, a cultural-news site targeted at millennials.

 Malinda-White is one of the founders for Popspoken, an online publication which focuses on local entertainment, lifestyle and cultural scene. PHOTO: SOPHIA TAN

Malinda-White is one of the founders for Popspoken, an online publication which focuses on local entertainment, lifestyle and cultural scene. PHOTO: SOPHIA TAN

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Five years ago, when Kyle Malinda-White noticed a wave of negative sentiments towards the local music scene on social media and various news websites, he felt compelled to do something about it.

“I felt that there were many naysayers towards local music at that time, and local acts received little coverage in media outlets,” said the self-proclaimed pop culture enthusiast, who is a first-year student at the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information.

With a belief that local acts deserve a level playing field as international music, he decided to “fill the gap” by forming Popspoken, a media website with his polytechnic classmate. Today, Popspoken has an average monthly reach of 40,000 page views and has covered entertainers as diverse as DJ Robin Schultz and homegrown act The Sam Willows.

A strong believer in chasing his dreams, the 24-year-old did not mind the additional commitment on top of school work then as a final-year student at Singapore Polytechnic.

Today, Popspoken has an average monthly reach of 40,000 page views and has covered entertainers as diverse as DJ Robin Schultz and homegrown act The Sam Willows.

Kyle Malinda-White

Within a matter of days, the duo translated their idea into a Wordpress website. They galvanised like-minded peers to join the team, and within a year, the website’s content steadily expanded – covering lifestyle, entertainment and the local arts scene.

As a new startup, the team actively searched the ground for new pitches and cold-called companies to seek collaborative opportunities. Malinda-White recalled sending more than 30 emails to corporations and media agencies in a month alone.

“It involved emailing and hoping to get a reply, calling offices for press contacts and getting hung up on occasionally,” Malinda-White said.

Despite countless rejections, Malinda-White refused to give up and strived hard to make Popspoken a success. Now, the team comprises 20 people handling different duties like curating, editorials and social media coverage. Malinda-White has also received many queries from individuals interested in freelance contributor roles.

Likewise, companies of fast-moving consumer goods, and the music and arts industry now approach the team with pitches and collaboration possibilities.

Still, Malinda-White is not slowing down and is ever determined to keep Popspoken current and well-oiled.

In recent years, he has been focusing on multimedia content – posting videos of interviews with celebrities such as renowned photographer Steve McCurry – and on-the-scene event coverage. Similarly, to make the website more viable in the long run, Malinda-White has also recently moved on to a business development role.

AUDIO SLIDESHOW: OLIVIA POH

Malinda-White’s foray into journalism began when he was only 14, being one of the four students selected for an SPH journalism camp in his secondary school. Following that stint, he earned an opportunity to write a full-page feature in the youth section of Berita Harian - the local Malay newspaper.

Never resting on his laurels, Malinda-White made use of his available time to gain more exposure in the media industry. Since his days as a student at Singapore Polytechnic, he has cut his teeth with internship stints at XinMSN, Yahoo! Singapore and Channel NewsAsia.

Yet what solidified his love for journalism was his days as reporter at Yahoo! Singapore, where he was tasked to cover local hard news.

“I remembered the rush of covering my first court case. Tracking the proceedings, ensuring I got the key facts correct and witnessing the defendant breaking down halfway through the trial were very memorable to me.”

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