A day in the life at BFM 89.9

By Team Ceritalah | Photography by Joe Kit Yong

On a Thursday morning Team Ceritalah headed into BFM 89.9’s new office space at Menara KEN TTDI.

We followed the station’s various teams – from dawn to dusk – to find out what a ‘typical’ day at the radio outfit looks like as Malaysia’s authoritative frequency on business and current events turned ten this year.

As journalists in tune with societal developments we also asked them some tough questions on the country’s rapidly changing political landscape.

4:30 A.M. Lead producer of ‘The Morning Run’ team Melisa Idris is the first to arrive to open the office doors, switch on the lights and officially start the day.

“I sleep at 7:30 P.M. every night. I start the morning with a cup of coffee – I can’t function without it.”

5:40 A.M. The office is empty, save the Morning Run’s team of seven.

They sift through the newspapers to keep abreast of the day’s headlines in preparation for The Morning Run program which runs from 6 A.M. to 10 A.M. and includes seven segments from Market Watch to the renowned Breakfast Grille.

“The newspaper man arrives at 5:30 A.M. every morning. It’s the most anticipated time of the day!”

8:18 A.M. On the Breakfast Grille Melisa grills UMNO leader and Member of Parliament (MP) for Rembau Khairy Jamaluddin in a segment titled ‘The Battle for Umno’s Soul’. The producer, who has been with BFM since its birth in 2008, dives right in: “Do you see yourself leaving the party or leading the party?”

9:30 A.M. With the office still near-empty, Team Ceritalah catches up with Umapagan Ampikaipakan (or simply, “Uma”), a presenter and producer for the Evening Edition.

Clocking in 10 years at BFM himself and moved by Khairy’s recent interview on the country’s political terrain, Uma tackles the team’s questions on liberalism and what it means for Malaysians.

“It’s important for liberalism to give us room to hear all sides. A liberal Malaysia allows for a conservative Malaysia – it allows for these different voices to be heard. How can a liberal Malaysia that’s all inclusive be a bad thing?”

11:05 A.M. As the rest of the staff clock in, Freda Liu, presenter and producer of afternoon business program The Enterprise, talks to the team in Studio A. Not everything at BFM goes on air live, so while the pre-recorded session on Law and Tech is aired, Freda weighs in on her vision for the decade-old radio station.

“When we started it was just radio. Now we’re increasing our video and digital content.”

BFM’s website now enjoys over 500,000 annual unique visitors with videos, recorded podcasts and a blog – not to mention exposure to a total of 3.7 million social media users on Facebook and Twitter.

“I’d love for BFM to be national. Hopefully with this ‘New Malaysia’ it will be possible. More people would be happy to tune in and listen.”

3:10 P.M. Not all of BFM’s staff present and produce. While the station is not hit chart-centric, Ali Johan still has an important role to play. As Founder and Managing Director Malek Ali puts it: “People don’t want to listen to business all the time.”

“I’m a producer for the weekend programs, but I’m also the station’s music lead,” Ali reveals.

“I look at and determine song rotations…A lot of us do the talking, but just as many do the listening. It’s a science, you have to read your audience’s mood at different times of the day. Yes, that means watching the weather!”

6:35 P.M. With the morning and afternoon teams either out of the office or packing up, Uma and evening presenter Lee Chwi Lynn, along with producer Kelvin Yee and intern Lazareen Thavethu are at their peak work flow in Studio A.

Video Producer Jazmin Sieh – a young member of BFM with two years’ experience – is taking a break from her desk where, she was engrossed in editing video content for the following week.

Head of Digital and New Media Ezra Zaid sits in the pantry with his team, passionately brainstorming ideas for potential projects.

There are no more than 20 staff on the building’s fourth floor and Malek, sporting a casual short-sleeve shirt and black jeans hurries out the door.

“Off to see some clients!”

As the sun sets he launches into a light sprint, full of determination, perhaps chasing the next ten years.

And beyond.