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Cambodia's NRG 89 to reshape music radio

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DJ Pops records music with DJ Mywife at NRG 89fm's studios Monday, Oct.01, 2012. Photograph: Chhim Sreyneang/Phnom Penh Post

DJ Mywife is playing a practical joke on Cambodia. “I want the whole country to know my name: DJ Mywife,” she enthused at the launch of Cambodia’s newest radio station yesterday.

“I want people to turn on the radio and say, ‘Whose is this voice on the radio? DJ Mywife? Oh, your wife, she sounds beautiful.'”

The 21-year-old presenter, whose real name is La Lin, wanted to be an actress before she won a job as an announcer at NRG 89 fm — the first station in the country to play music around the clock, which launched yesterday.

The station, which plays a mix of international pop and Khmer music 24 hours a day, held its official launch party yesterday at its studios in Boeung Salang, Toul Kork, to mark its inaugural breakfast show.

Its French and Australian co-creators hope the station will set the bar for broadcasting in this country.

“We want to make people appreciate better radio here,” Frederic Bernard, the French station manager who has worked in radio for more than 25 years, said during a tour of the station’s studio.

"We are equipped just as well as stations in Bangkok and New York, if not better.”

The central services at NRG run on solar power, which is stored, meaning that in the event of a power cut the station can broadcast for 16 hours. Engineers based in Singapore and France are on hand to fix any technical glitches remotely.

Cambodia has two AM stations and more than 50 FM stations, but NRG, the brainchild of ex-journalist Bernard and businessman Anthony Galloway, is the first to play music 24 hours a day.

“Radio should be a big industry in this country, but it’s not,” Bernard said.

One of the problems is that there has been little accurate market research carried out to develop the industry and help stations draw advertisers.

“One of my first ambitions is to partner with other broadcasters to make a serious survey,” Bernard said.

He admits the station, like any other business, has had some teething problems.

One of those was securing a good frequency to broadcast on.

“We had to find a technically acceptable frequency. Sometimes what they offer you is sub-standard, but we found a clean, neat frequency.”

The station has trained five Cambodian DJs — DJ Pops, MC Curly, DJ Mywife, DJ Tim and DJ Vannak — who will host four-hour slots.

“Some of them were naturals from their first time in front of the mic: warm, composed, extremely gifted,” Bernard said.

DJ Pops, 35, worked at the French-Khmer TV station Apsara TV but decided to move into radio to work at NRG.

“If you listen to Khmer stations, all the DJs talk all the time; there are people calling in. But here, there is more music – 24 hours a day,” he said.

As for DJ Mywife, she said: “I’m still young, but I have confidence and feel powerful working in NRG radio. I also want to do events as an MC.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Poppy McPherson at ppp.lifestyle@gmail.com

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