Rediffusion reaching out via cable TV, online radio

This story was first published in The Straits Times on Oct 28, 2013

ST 20131028 JCREDIFFUSION28 3898692m

ITS vintage recordings of stories and interviews from the 1960s and 1970s are pulling in fans new and old, thanks to an app and podcast service.

Now the iconic radio station Rediffusion is trying to attract a younger audience by starting online radio and cable television operations next month.

There will be a soft launch for the Internet radio service Radioffusion on Nov 11, which will feature three hours of programmes with DJs in their 20s talking about Singapore's music scene and sub-cultures. There will also be interviews with home-grown musicians.

Meanwhile, programmes teaching students Chinese and how to become less dependent on their parents will, from January, be offered on a video-on-demand service via a tie-up with StarHub.

Rediffusion owner and chairman Eeva Chang Mei Hsiang, who is in her 50s, said: "Rediffusion is no longer just a radio box that you listen to. You can also see it on the Internet and TV."

She and her 16-strong staff, including creative director and renowned local musician Dick Lee, 56, have been fine-tuning programmes over the last six months since the firm launched its free podcasts and app featuring archived programmes from the station's six-decade history.

Ms Chang is also grooming potential presenters.

Her online radio service was meant to start in July but she said it is taking longer than expected as she wants only the "best possible" content and talent to draw listeners.

"The young listeners have so many other options to choose from," she said. "They will tune out very fast so we must have only the best to hold on to them."

Ms Chang is pleased people are tuning in to hear old recordings, like Cantonese and Hokkien stories told by DJs Lee Dai Sor and Ong Toh. Since the May 31 launch of the Rediffusion Class app, it has chalked up more than 50,000 downloads, with an average increase of 300 every month.

"We are surprised by the response so far, given how our older listeners may not be so savvy with mobile technology," she said.

In its heyday, Rediffusion had more than 100,000 subscribers, but the number dwindled to no more than 4,000.

It shut down last April due to financial woes but Ms Chang bought its brand name, audio-visual materials and broadcasting facilities soon after.

While she has tycoon Sam Goi's financial backing, Ms Chang said she has invested about $2 million to get things off the ground and expects to spend another $4 million next year to expand Rediffusion's online, mobile and TV operations.

"We may not have the sheer size and the financial capacity like other media companies," she said.

"But I want to make sure that when people start to listen to us, they know we are fresh, innovative and not at all inferior to our competitors."

This story was first published in The Straits Times on Oct 28, 2013

To subscribe to The Straits Times, please go to