TECHNOLOGICAL advancements over the past few decades have given people unprecedented access to information.
A wealth of information and entertainment is readily available these days, whether you catch up on the news by reading the newspaper, watching television, browsing websites on your cell phones or computers, or listening to the radio. .
Broadcasting has had a profound impact on society since its conception in the early 20th century and despite the emergence of digital platforms, it remains one of the most powerful communication tools to date.
According to Marrill Chunggat, Deputy Chief Director of Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM) Section of Radio Televisyen Malaysia, Sarawak’s radio services continue to play an important role in reaching the masses.
“It is especially in rural areas which do not yet have access to digital, but which can be reached by the reception of radio frequency bands, waves or transmissions either by shortwave (SW) or by modulation of frequency (FM),” he told the Borneo Post.
He said some areas in Sarawak, particularly Miri, still use SW reception facilities, with transmissions being made through the RTM Kajang branch transmitter, which is still in operation.
He observed that after digitization, more and more regions gained access to free-to-air digital terrestrial television (DTT) such as myFreeview.
“However, the SW band is still needed, especially in interiors, for broadcasting information and keeping listeners up to date with what’s going on.
“Due to Sarawak’s geographic and demographic factors, the role of radio is always important in conveying information, messages, requests and announcements of local activities,” he said.
“Diversity is strength”
Under RTM Sarawak Radio Section, there are six radio stations: RTM Kuching, RTM Sri Aman (SRI AMANfm), RTM Sibu (SIBUfm), RTM Bintulu (BINTULUfm) and RTM Miri (MIRIfm) and RTM Limbang (LIMBANGfm).
Under RTM Kuching are five radio services: SARAWAKfm, which broadcasts in Bahasa Melayu Sarawak 24 hours a day – except for the hour-long show in Bahasa Melanau, starting at 2 p.m. every Sunday; Chinese REDfm and English REDfm; WAIFM Iban; and WAIfm Bidayuh, which comprises three main Bidayuh dialects, namely Bau Jagoi, Bukar Sadong and Biatah.
SRI AMANfm and SIBUfm broadcast in three languages: Bahasa Malay, Iban and Chinese; RTM Bintulu air to Bahasa Malaysia and Iban; MIRIfm in Bahasa Malaysia, Iban, Chinese, Kayan and Kenyah; while LIMBANGfm covers four languages, namely Bahasa Malaysia, Lun Bawang, Bisaya and Iban.
Marrill said the strength of RTM Sarawak can certainly be attributed to the diversity of its multilingual programs such as Bahasa Melayu Sarawak, Iban, Bidayuh, Kayan, Kenyah, Bisaya and Lun Bawang, as well as some slots broadcast in the Salako, Melanau languages. and Kedayan. .
“The use of ethnic languages in the service enables more effective broadcasting and at the same time, they reach the listeners not only in terms of broadcasting information, but also entertainment and local culture,” he said. .
In accordance with the guidelines
Marrill also said the broadcasting guidelines had set out some standard procedures to ensure that content and presentations would always meet high quality standards and also meet the taste of listeners.
“Program content must also be broadcast responsibly by ensuring that each station’s radio program enjoys the trust of all levels of society, while preserving the image in the rapid and authentic dissemination of information.
“These constantly updated guidelines are what differentiate RTM Radio’s performance to stay relevant based on technological developments to reach more listeners so that every government policy can be implemented, as well as to provide entertainment that covers the preference of all ages, especially in terms of relevance to the needs of the target groups,” he said.
Marrill also pointed out that radio broadcasts have continued to evolve with technological development in the digital age to meet the needs of listeners.
“RTM is constantly improving its capabilities not only in terms of equipment, but also expertise and skills in the implementation of delivery tasks and services.
“Through the ‘RTMKlik’ app, our radio services can be heard online in addition to being accessible via myFreeview.
“The use of facilities such as podcasts has also been developed and so far (it) offers core services such as NASIONALfm, TRAXXfm, AIfm and MINNALfm before expanding to other services, depending preferences of our listeners,” he said.
Never stop reaching out
While not having the number of listeners tuned to RTM stations, Marrill estimated the number of those following live streams of certain events on Facebook to be around 50,000 to nearly 600,000. viewers.
“For example, 596,000 viewers tuned in to ‘Anugerah Carta Sapa Juara 2019 WAIfm Iban’, while another show called ‘Juh Bermukun SARAWAKfm’ attracted 45,000 viewers.”
He said that unlike the RTM headquarters in Angkasapuri, Kuala Lumpur and radio stations in Peninsular Malaysia, Sarawak and Sabah had neither the facilities nor the expertise that would enable them to obtain the statistics on the number of radio listeners.
“This can be influenced by geographic factors, population distribution, logistics and facilities as well as internet access.
“However, earlier this year there was a proposal to collaborate with strategic partners Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) and Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) to get the statistics on the number of listeners,” he said. , adding that the proposal was still ongoing. discussion.
He said RTM Sarawak will continue to reach out to its radio listeners by working to speed up news delivery, as well as channeling information through family news slots with agencies to broadcast more widely so that ‘they can be heard in every corner of Sarawak, especially in rural and inland areas.
“The loyalty of our listeners is greatly appreciated by the establishment of partner radios which are not only a source for various activities, but also for participating in programs in the field.
“Continued audience feedback, including constructive criticism, shows that the radio is still close to the hearts of listeners and remains relevant using the latest and conventional facilities,” Marrill said.
Major catalyst of the creative industry
Marrill said the radio continued to play its role during the Covid-19 pandemic and would continue after the pandemic.
“Radio has provided opportunities and space, particularly through the Malaysian Creative Industry Stimulus Package (Prisma) initiative of the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia, ensuring that creative industry players affected by the pandemic are in able to continue their work and contributions to the industry with new rates.
“Various programs are also broadcast through radio shows that provide space and opportunities for industry-related entrepreneurs and traders, especially those involving support services such as the audio field.
“For example, they have the opportunity to participate in field programs, on-site radio, competitions, etc.”
Marrill added that programs and posting slots related to government policies such as government assistance and initiatives to help those who had been affected by the pandemic, were also being aired.
On RTM Sarawak’s plans to continue reaching out to its radio listeners, Marrill said that as part of the RTM Strategic Plan 2021-2025, this would take into account putting in place long-term plans, especially on strengthening management and developing human capital; improving the policy framework and governance, including work processes; strengthen broadcasting services and operations; enhance the quality of content and distribution channels; and strengthen promotion, marketing and revenue generation to become a major catalyst in the creative industry, especially in high-quality, high-value creative entertainment content.
“Using new platforms, especially social media and its trends, to stay fresh and relevant in turn would continually attract more viewers or listeners,” he said.