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Idea of a radio channel for children offers exciting possibilities

A letter from Ms Audrey Yang (“A radio channel to serve children”; Oct 15) caught my attention.

TODAY file photo

TODAY file photo

Bradley C Freeman

A letter from Ms Audrey Yang (“A radio channel to serve children”; Oct 15) caught my attention.

She wrote in to ask the Government to consider a radio station aimed at kids. What a great idea.

Many cities around the globe have radio stations devoted to the youth.

Just a few years ago in Dubai, Pearl FM was launched to target the little ones and their mums. This station, located near the Palm Jumeirah at the Al Jalila Children’s Cultural Centre, broadcasts in the English language, while an Arabic version called Lulu FM is planned.

In my hometown in the United States, there is a wonderful programme called the Saturday Light Brigade that is one of the longest-running public radio shows in the world. Each weekend, it broadcasts from the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. The show features family-friendly acoustic musical guests, on-air games and participatory puzzles, as well as phone calls from children and adults.

The hosts also conduct off-air workshops for the kids to learn more about radio and the media in general.

In the US, Radio Aahs is credited with having been the first to fully serve the youth audience, that is until Radio Disney moved into the radio business.

Of course, other countries also have children’s stations.

Personally, I am not a big fan of Radio Disney, because somehow, it is a bit too commercial at times. Also, they tend to feature bands that are associated with their company — and at times, I would argue, the songs are not the most appropriate for the age groups that are listening.

Having said that, Radio Disney has become better over the years, and its stations are certainly a far easier choice for parents to tune in to than the normal fare that is typically heard on the airwaves today.

One of the great things about these radio stations is that they are extremely family-friendly and provide many wonderful programmes to keep the kids entertained. In an era when video screens are more prevalent, it’s nice to consider an audio medium to give the kids’ eyes a break once in a while. Also, there are many opportunities for creative programmings, such as bedtime stories, and it is also possible to have the radio stations visit schools on “broadcast tours” which can be linked with “healthy eating habit” schemes and the like.

Kids are usually excited to learn more about the world around them and radio does a great job in this respect.

A radio station aimed at the children of Singapore would provide an outlet for their voices to be heard and would be a great way to give back to the community.

One of the difficulties is regarding surveys and ratings. It is sometimes difficult to gauge the listenership of these stations in a traditional sense. However, one look around, and we see a lot of children (Singapore wants more), and we also see a lot of stores selling items for the children’s market. These stores and products would make a natural fit for advertising with such a station.

At the same time, such a station could be non-commercial as well, with some creative ideas for sustainability.

A frequency recently went dark, 99.5FM. It would be a shame not to consider a new idea for the vibrant Singapore radio dial.

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