Playback to the Start

Four DJs from WKWSCI share how they got their big break in the radio industry.

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Bold and dynamic, Charmian Tan (CS’17), Germaine Tan (CS’19), Zaza Majid (MMC’16) and Kimberly Wang (CS’14) have all carved a niche for themselves in the radio business in Singapore. Here are the stories behind these on-air personalities from the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information.  

Charmian Tan - Getting a Headstart

Juggling both radio and school work can be one tough act, but Tan is more than eager to take it on. “I am actually quite happy that I started off like that because I’m getting a kickstart in my career while studying full-time.”

The fourth-year student at WKWSCI is currently doing an internship as a part-time DJ with 987FM, where she has a weekday radio programme “The Pantry Dash” and a weekend programme “Hotdogs and a Bun.”

The 23-year-old is no stranger to radio competitions. Four years ago, as an aspiring radio DJ, she joined 987FM’s Radio Star. While she made it past the first round, Tan did not progress beyond that. It was her second attempt in 2014, when she got her break and came through as first runner-up in the competition.

“I am actually quite happy that I started off like that because I’m getting a kickstart in my career while studying full-time.”

Charmian TanRadio DJ, 987FM

Tan admitted that she never thought about joining the same competition twice. “To do it again was very scary and terrifying because people might recognise you,” she shared.

It was only when her good friend and radio enthusiast, Nicholas Eng (CS’17), suggested that they join the competition together that Tan realised that she still loved radio and re-entered the competition again. Though Eng did not make it through the initial stages, Tan recalled his unwavering support throughout the entire competition. “Where I am right now, I really have him to thank,” she said.

In the near future, Tan would like to work on a primetime show, where she hopes to gain more reach and produce radio segments. “Personally, I hope to gain more exposure in the media industry because I’m so new,” she said.

Acting is also another of Tan’s creative pursuits. In her younger years, she was known as a “dramatic and animated child” who loved acting. While she still harbours her childhood dream of being a television actress, Tan shared that she has found a new love in radio.

“Radio was something I kind of stumbled into, and I fell in love with it.”

Germaine Tan -  Pursuing her Passion

At a young age, Germaine Tan would look forward to her weekly English enrichment classes where she was given the opportunity to express herself with words.

“I went to a lot of language classes when I was young. I would stand there and go ‘mad, cat, bat’,” recalled the second-year student at WKWSCI.

The 21-year-old has since moved on to a bigger stage. Known as “Baby G” to her listeners at Class 95FM, she now has her own weekend show.

Chatty since young, Tan said her love for talking and meeting new people has evolved into a passion for radio, a medium she first dabbled in during her polytechnic days.

The Class 95FM producer and weekend DJ was recently given the opportunity to co-produce content with radio veterans Justin Ang and Vernon A from "The Muttons Show,” a milestone for the young DJ.

“Because of the people at the station, because I get to do what I love, I think that’s what wakes me up every morning.”

Germaine TanRadio DJ, Class 95FM

Tan recalled that she “always wanted to be a DJ, but never had the courage to do so.” Her first step into radio started when a friend — who was helping out for 987FM’s Radio Star competition — persuaded her to “come down on Saturday for fun.”

Though she entered the competition reluctantly, Tan emerged as the second-runner up, and has never looked back.

Since taking on the role of producer for “The Muttons Show,” Tan has been waking up at 5.30 a.m. on weekdays, long before her school day even begins.

The early hours are hardly a chore. “Because of the people at the station, because I get to do what I love, I think that’s what wakes me up every morning,” she said.

When asked how she manages her commitments, Tan shared that it boils down to discipline because her schedule does not allow her any time to procrastinate or be lazy.

“It’s tiring and exhausting, but it’s the part of the day that I laugh the most.”




Zaza Majid - Go-Getter

Upon graduating from junior college, radio DJ Zaza Majid had her hopes pinned on enrolling in the National Institute of Education’s pioneer Malay degree programme but her plans were scuttled when she didn’t get a spot.

Undeterred, Zaza then pursued an advanced diploma in mass communications at the Singapore Institute Management and eventually clinched a job as a DJ for a Malay station at Radio Singapore International.

The diversion in her plans ultimately led the go-getter to an illustrious career in the Malay media industry, where she is now the Acting Assistant Programme Director at Warna 94.2FM — a station she joined following RSI’s cessation in 2008.

To further her career prospects in the radio business, Zaza pursued a master’s degree at WKWSCI in 2014. As a single mother of twin girls, going back to school was a huge challenge and commitment.

Zaza, who completed her postgraduate programme in mass communications in July, said the past two years were “not easy, but also not impossible.”

“At the end of the day, whatever you do, give it your all. Do it with passion.”

Zaza MajidRadio DJ, Warna 94.2FM

She recalled how she had to stay up late into the night just to wait for her twins, who were only three years old then, to sleep before completing her assignments.

Then there were also evenings when she was late for lessons because the travelling time from work to school ate into her classes. Fortunately, she had understanding lecturers and bosses who supported her during that period, shared Zaza.

“My bosses made sure they did not give me duties after 6pm since class started at 7pm. My colleagues also helped to cover me when I had to leave for classes,” she added.

Looking back, Zaza said she had a positive experience despite having so much on her plate. “I never felt burnt out because I was constantly surrounded by positive people,” she said.

“At the end of the day, whatever you do, give it your all. Do it with passion.”


Kimberly Wang - Heeding the Call  

As an undergraduate studying at a cafe a couple of years ago, Kimberly Wang heard about the competition “So You Wanna Be A DJ” over the radio.

The idea of being a presenter without showing herself on screen — unlike her previous experiences of TV hosting and acting in her adolescent years — appealed to her.

“It wasn't so much of ‘I want to do it’, but more of a ‘I couldn’t get it out of my head,’” shared Wang, who added that “music is a very big part of my life.”

Heeding the call of the radio ad, Wang joined the competition, and eventually won it. Today, she has regular gig at 987FM, and hosts a weekday radio programme “The Happy Ending” and a weekend programme “Unwind.”

Despite her background in acting and hosting, Wang confessed that she is a “very timid person,” and was “terrified” of the initial idea of joining a nationwide competition. She recalled feeling unsure and wanting to back out upon seeing the long queues on the audition day itself. She eventually overcame her fear, thanks to her supportive friends.

“I owe my first step to (my friends), they really egged me on a lot.”

“It wasn't so much of ‘I want to do it’, but more of a ‘I couldn’t get it out of my head.’”

Kimberly WangRadio DJ, 987FM

These friends — Wang’s batchmates from WKWSCI — supported her by calling to vote throughout the entire competition. She pointed out that a particular friend called in so many times that he won the $1,000 cash prize for audience voters.
“If it takes your friends to push you out of your comfort zone, tell someone that you trust and ride on their energy.” She added: “I rode on all my friends’ energy, and if it was one less person, I don't think I would be here.”

Five years into her radio career, Wang shared that her love for radio has not wavered, and is extremely grateful for the positive comments she receives from listeners.  

“Small moments like these really make a difference. I realise that I am making my own kind of difference, and that’s why I signed up for this.”