Music-loving fans from Singapore's silver generation will soon have a new free app tailored for them - Vintage Radio SG.
To be launched tomorrow, the online radio app will stream classic pop tunes from the 1950s to the 1970s by artists from rock 'n' roll king Elvis Presley to local acts such as Naomi & The Boys.
It will be anchored by multilingual presenters whose voices are familiar to seniors here - broadcasting veteran Brian Richmond, singer and radio host P.N. Bala Supramaniam and former Rediffusion DJ Patrick Kwek, also known as Guo Xianhua, as well as singer Rahimah Rahim.
The app, which also features other content geared towards seniors, is the brainchild of former radio presenters Mark Richmond, 49, and Aloysius Tan, 53, as well as several of their partners.
While music will be streamed 24 hours, the deejays will present only from 8am to midnight on weekdays. Their presentations are pre-recorded.
Long-time radio listeners will remember Mark Richmond, who is Brian Richmond's son, and Tan as deejays from the contemporary pop radio station that is now known as 987. They spent the last six months working on the app while juggling their full-time jobs. Mark Richmond is Sport Singapore's team lead of Team Singapore while Tan runs Radioactive.sg, a company that provides streaming solutions for radio networks.
Vintage Radio SG received funds from philanthropic groups The Majurity Trust, Tsao Foundation and Octava Foundation, as well as Temasek Trust's oscar@sg fund and arts supporter Anthonia Hui.
The app is designed to be easily used by those who might not be tech-savvy.
Says Mark Richmond: "We're not here to change the whole radio landscape. This is something that is unashamedly senior-centric. Through music, they can relive and rekindle their past."
Tan says the app lets seniors familiarise themselves with digital content in a secure environment, without worrying about spam, phishing scams or other online hazards.
They did several focus-group discussions with seniors to find out how best the app can serve them. Some of the content available include articles and videos centred on topics such as health and financial literacy.
Users are also encouraged to contribute content. For example, they can become presenters over the weekend by recording themselves and sending over audio files, or submit pictures for a gallery that features old photographs.
Tan says the app is designed to use minimal data. Users whose devices are not connected to Wi-Fi will not have to worry about it eating up their data plan, he assures.
Rahimah, who will make her debut as a radio presenter, will speak in both Malay and English.
"It's something I've never done before but it's fun and I take it as a challenge," says the 64-year-old.
"I'm used to talking to the audience when I'm on stage, but presenting on radio is different. You can't see your audience so you have to visualise what you want to say."
Brian Richmond, 73, says he is happy to be part of a project that helps seniors like himself be tech-savvy. "Playing songs that are oldies but goldies, it's right up my alley, it's what I do best," he says.
"I'll also include Singapore trivia, interesting 'did you know?' fun facts to spice things up."
Richmond's words carry a lot of weight among his peers, says Tan. He relates how it was difficult for him to convince his mother, who has Alzheimer's disease, to stay home or wear a mask when going out during the pandemic. "But for people like her to hear someone familiar like Brian give a public service announcement, they will take it seriously, they will listen to them."