Former voice of MRT announcements Juanita Melson dies

Radio veteran Juanita Melson worked as a DJ and later as a programme manager for Rediffusion, Singapore's only cable radio stations when it was set up in 1949. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

SINGAPORE - Radio veteran Juanita Melson, who voiced the SMRT train and station announcements between 1996 and 2008, died last Thursday (Jan 19) of cancer.

Mrs Melson, who was 72, worked as a DJ and later as a programme manager for Rediffusion, Singapore's only cable radio station when it was set up in 1949.

She joined Rediffusion in 1974 and left in 2003.

According to her daughter Tracy Melson, the family found out about Mrs Melson's lung cancer in 2013, and that it spread to her brain by the second half of last year.

Ms Melson, who is in her 40s, said that her mother died peacefully in her sleep surrounded by family members, adding they were thankful that she did not go in pain.

Ms Melson, who works in hospitality, said that her mother was eating proper meals until Jan 15. Aside from being more tired, she still recognised her family and talked with them up until the day she died.

Mrs Melson made a deep impact on many famous local media personalities in her almost 30 years at Rediffusion, one of them being Kiss92 DJ John Klass.

Speaking with The Straits Times, he said that he would not be where he is now without her guidance. She hired him as radio DJ in 1991 when he just completed his national service, and got his band Kick! signed to Japanese record label Pony Canyon.

"She picked me up from nowhere," said Klass.

He recalled her meticulous attention to detail when hosting shows, saying she taught him things like "the art of when to press the play button" and "how to speak to an audience so that you connect with them personally".

In a Facebook tribute last Saturday, he said: "(She) was more than just a boss and, like for many of us at Rediffusion, she was a good friend and, to some extent, like a mother I never had."

Regarding his post, Klass told The Straits Times: "I needed to put that straight that she made a whole lot of difference to a lot of people... For me this whole thing is about gratitude."

Lush 99.5FM DJ Chris Ho also has much to thank Mrs Melson for. He knew her from her Rediffusion days, and she submitted his show to the Australasian Broadcasting Arts & Sciences, leading him to win the Paters Award for Best Asia-Pacific Radio Personality in 1987.

"If she didn't submit my show... I would not have won the award," he said.

He added that his strongest memory of Mrs Melson is her voice. "It is a very pure voice, a proper voice... Her delivery was always warm, precise, sincere and lovely, just lovely to hear."

When asked what he would miss the most about her, Ho's reply was simple: "Her smile."

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