Friday, September 28, 2007

Radio Sarawak - At Your Request

As a secondary schoo student I was very mobile on my little Raleigh bicycle which cost my father less than a hundred Straits dollars at that time. I got it as a prize for having passed my Primary Six Entrance Examination.

It was a really proud moment to be on top of that bicycle and riding every where with it. It was freedom on two wheels!

I went every where with it, and also became a very significant member of the family because I could wheel purchases home for my mother , like ten katis of corn for the chickens or 15 katis of rice for the family. It was a good thing to be able to run chores for the family.

What I liked then was Saturday when I could listen to the small transistor radio which will broadcast At Your Request, a song request programmer led by famous radio DJs like Anthony Romanair . Lim Seng Guan also played a role as a news reader.

In the 50's and 60's Radio Sarawak played a very important role in the social life of the youths and the adults. There were three channels - English, Chinese and Malay. The Chinese programmes were similar to what are available in Chinese today. But the English programmes were all different.

Virtually all forms of popular music could be heard and the popular request programme also helped promote a lot of new songs and new vocalists. This in turn help the singing stars to promote their new movies.

Demographically at that time,the population was still young, and the baby boomers from the Second World War have become teenagers with some money to spend and Sarawak being under British rule English was the official language and the language of instruction. Hence the young indigenous , Malay and English educated Chinese would tune to the English radio and listen to all the English songs and English plays.

Radio programmers were trained in England and they had no problem getting their rapt audience to listen to them. Their songs (now called oldies) were played throughout the day, almost non stop. Records were being sold in the shops together with good turn tables. Transistor radios, which had just come on to the market were selling like hot cakes.

The hits became well known and even night clubs which sprang up at the same time were making the western singers ever more popular.

The songs appealed to young and old and they were easy and pleasing. The audience as a whole was not too selective or demanding. I remember an older teacher singing a song by young Cliff Richard and feeling very good about herself!! She was entertaining a group of Year Six pupils who were having a celebration party.

Everlasting country music

When the movies like The Magnificent Seven and the Good, The Bad and The Ugly hit the cinema in Sarawak, country music was born. We called them cowboy songs at that time. I think we never got tired of them because there is something very sentimental in country music which calls up a lot of nostalgia. People from 12 to 64 as they say, like country music. So Country Music has been with us since the 60's until today.....the popularity actually has not declined.

According to one music critic " Country music is a fundamental and foundational type of music. It sounds much the same today as it did in 1960. From time to time Country has ventured onto new ground musically, but listener backlash has always brought it back to the main stream. The sound of the music is dictated by the fans more than the artists themselves. Artistic self indulgence is generally not well accepted in Country music circles. The allure of new artists and new songs has been enough to keep the fans happy, old and young alike. There has been no need to change the basic nature of the music because it works so well. Any Country fan from 6 to 60 will think a new Randy Travis ballad is just right because he is doing Country as well as it can be done!"

The style so familiar to us all,it is recognized and respected everywhere.

So I would like to request a song by Hank Williams,"Your Cheating Heart" for my friends in Sibu....with a message, 'hope you enjoy it....and have a good weekend.....cheers."

2 memories:

hidayaton said...

Hi !
i am so sorry but what i would like to say here is not about your post but instead i would like to ask you a favour if you do not mind you know any folk song of kayan ethnic ??
i would be pleased if you send me any info,lyrics,attached music or anything that could help me because my friend and more than 200 students here at management and science university shah alam would like to organise an event on ethnic folk song in malaysia and it will be an attemption to be recorded into malaysia book of record .or else could you please tell me any resource that i can refer tO??
your help is greatly appreciated.
kindly please reply these to my email or

i will be happy if you could send me details as soon as possible before or on this friday

please let me know your details too for further reference...
thank you ..

I Am Sarawakiana said...

Hi It is nice of you to write to me.

Incidentally there will be the First Kayan Carnival to be held at the end of this month in Miri.

Is there a deadline to meet? I will be travelling a little this weekend. But I should be able to source something for you. Many of my colleagues are Kayan.

One lady who is a specialistic in ethnic music is Madam Chong Pek Lin of Institute Perguruan Batu Lintang Kuching. I am afraid I do not have her email. She has recordings and songs of the Kenyah People. She has written a book about their music.

I will write to you asap.



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