Talk Radio Becoming the Talk of Cambodia

Talk radio is growing in Cam­bodia, as a result of shows that encourage listeners to call in song requests.

But instead of just requesting their favorite song and hanging up, listeners are becoming a part of the show.

Radio hosts now strike up conversations with callers, letting them give their views on Cambodian arts and culture or on problems they would like to see solved. Before requesting their songs, callers are asked to express their opinions or even tell jokes.

“What are you going to do on National Women’s Day?” an Apsara Radio (FM97) female host asked a caller recently.

“I will cook a meal for the first person who calls [the station],” the caller replied. “And I will do everything to please my mother.”

“Do not kiss your mother that day because I’m afraid it creates sin,” the host joked.

“Our programs are open to benefit our listeners,” said Um Sophakdei, arts director at Bayon Radio (FM95). “And we tell them such things as to be careful with fire during the dry season or not to drink alcohol when they drive a car.’’

FM102, which is operated by the Women’s Media Center, has a call-in program that focuses more on wo­men’s issues. “Along with the en­ter­tain­ment we provide to our listeners, we give them ideas and advice on such topics as a woman’s health during her pregnancy period,” said Chap Chandina, program director and a commentator at FM102. “The radio is not a teach­er, but more of a friend. We have a lot of older callers who can give good advice to our listeners.’’

Chea Vannath, president of the Center for Social Development, said such radio programs have a positive effect, but hosts need to be cautious. “Their information must be true, and not supportive of any pol­itical figures,” she said.

Bayon Radio General Director Thai Norak Satia said the station tries to persuade listeners to refrain from political issues, “be­cause it can cause problems. Sometimes we turn off a speak­er whose problem sounds political,” he said.

Khieu Kanharith, secretary of state for the Ministry of Infor­mation, said radio stations should use announcers who have expertise on the topics they discuss.”

“Some radio commentators do not understand all the issues,” he said. “They just comment on a situation instead of giving real facts.”

The following stations now have combined music and talk formats: Bayon Radio, 10 to 11 am and 9 to 12 pm. Only traditional Khmer music can be requested during the evening show; Apsara Radio, 8 to 10 am, 2 to 3 pm and 4 to 6 pm; FM102, 9:30 to 10:45 am; Phnom Penh Radio FM103, 10 am to 5 pm; FM96, 9 to 10 am, 12:15 to 1 pm for foreign songs, 2 to 3 pm, 7 to 8 pm; FM99, 1 to 3 pm for English-language songs, 6 to 8 pm; Beehive FM105, 10 am-noon, 5:30 to 7 pm.



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