Rediffusion radio service reaches out to heartland seniors

Mr Yeo Guat Kwang (centre, in red) and Rediffusion chairman Eeva Chang (wearing a hat) speaking to residents after the official launch of the Rediffusion Neighbourhood Radio Spot at the senior citizens' corner of Block 675, Hougang Avenue 8.
Mr Yeo Guat Kwang (centre, in red) and Rediffusion chairman Eeva Chang (wearing a hat) speaking to residents after the official launch of the Rediffusion Neighbourhood Radio Spot at the senior citizens' corner of Block 675, Hougang Avenue 8.ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN

Senior citizens living in Ang Mo Kio and Hougang can now enjoy a blast from the past at five spots in the area that allow them to tune in to radio programmes from yesteryear.

The service that was launched yesterday, at a few senior citizens' corners and wellness centres in the area, will feature a range of programmes, including music by Chinese singers such as Teresa Teng and tales told by famous storytellers like Lee Dai Soh.

The aim of these Rediffusion Neighbourhood Radio Spots is to provide a time for reminiscence and community bonding among the seniors, said Rediffusion in a statement.

"As Singapore celebrates its 50th birthday, we wish to express gratitude to the pioneers who have contributed to the success of Singapore since its independence," it added.

Mr Yeo Guat Kwang, an MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC, said: "Many of the senior residents missed Rediffusion's programmes, as many of them had grown up listening to it... and I thought of bringing it back into the neighbourhood."

One fan is retired construction worker Peh Kim Hue, who used to enjoy Rediffusion's music in particular. Said the 75-year-old: "The programmes are useful as the stories are in Hokkien which I understand better."

Founded in 1949, Rediffusion in its heyday in the 1970s and 1980s had more than 100,000 subscribers, but dwindling numbers eventually led to the company's closure in 2012.

It went back on air in May 2013 as an online-based station, hoping to reach out to the young. Still, response was lukewarm.

But now, Rediffusion is extending the station's reach into the heartland - closer to the people who grew up on its playlist of American rock 'n' roll and tales read in Chinese dialects by master storytellers.

More of these radio spots may be rolled out in other neighbourhoods, depending on feedback from the Ang Mo Kio-Hougang run.

Cleaner Teh Ah Leh, 72, already has plans to visit one of the radio spots regularly.

"I will come down after work to listen and chit-chat with my friends," he said.

"The programmes will provide us with many memories of the past."

 audreyt@sph.com.sg