It’s on everyone’s minds. Will the curtains ever close on FM radio?
There’s no denying that traditional media, in general, has seen its fair share of troubles, especially last year with the whole Utusan debacle.
So it’s not out of left field to wonder if the same thing is about to happen to the radio scene.
Personally, I don’t think I remember the last time I’ve willingly put on a radio station.
Spotify is a thing (did you know they grew their global audience from 87 million in 2018 to 113 million late last year?), and everyone I know without Spotify either streams straight from YouTube Premium or Apple Music.
To be fair to both sides, however, there is proof that Malaysian listeners still seem to love their radio segments.
In the second half of 2019, a GfK survey noted that listenership still remains high with 20.6 million Malaysians tuning into radio per week. In that same survey, about 50% of 1,000 respondents agreed that radio is still the first media activity they do in a day.
This proves that just because it’s not my cup of tea, it definitely doesn’t mean that it’s not anyone else’s either, though I’m not alone in my stance.
Kelvin Tay shares the same train of thought. But with a need to share his opinions and build a community, Kelvin decided to do something a little different—build his own podcasting network.
So in 2018, he dived headfirst into a relatively untapped market in Malaysia with Renegade Radio.
Renegade Radio started off as a passion project by Kelvin and his own friends, all of them avid podcast listeners prior to the company. Having started out as a small scale hustle, Renegade Radio now manages 5 active shows with more in the works.
Going Down The Road Less Travelled
Despite his strong interest in all things media and production, Kelvin actually hailed from a Finance and Entrepreneurship background.
“It’s definitely a huge jump from what I’m used to. That’s why the network is also called ‘Renegade’—as none of the founders are from a mass comm background and had to learn everything from scratch.”
The founders Kelvin mentioned are Nani Lai (Head of Finance), Kush Khandelwal (Head of Creatives) as well as Jeff Kassim (Head of Production), who all took the dive into the deep end with him.
From the get-go, Kelvin told us about how they wanted to fill a huge gap in the market.
“I did some research on the Malaysian podcasting scene and realised we don’t really have one. So, why not create a network?” Kelvin explained.
He wasn’t wrong—a quick Google search will show you that our podcast scene is severely lacking. Unlike radio, there are no concrete stats about our podcast market to really go on.
If I were to search for international statistics, however, 32% of US citizens are already monthly listeners. 11% of American adults even listen to podcasts on a weekly basis.
Over the past few years though, we’ve definitely witnessed the birth of Malaysian-made podcasts like the ones featured here, but challenges remain when it comes to gaining listenership.
“I’d say the biggest obstacle would be explaining the concept and medium to Malaysians. You get questions like ‘What’s a podcast?’, ‘Free ah?’ or ‘Where to listen lah?’ and so on,” Kelvin told Vulcan Post.
Behind The Scenes
“Companies such as BFM have set the tone for business-centric genres. Renegade Radio will focus on the more light-hearted entertainment segment—but we are always exploring and finding new niches that highlight Malaysians and the life we live,” said Kelvin.
At the moment, Renegade Radio’s shows fall under ones that are highly lifestyle-centric and localised.
They used to have another show titled SERAM, which was their first-ever podcast produced. This was meant to be similar to the No Sleep Podcast or LORE but with Malaysian and South East ghosts, legends and all things supernatural.
Sadly, before I could head down to Spotify and check it out, Kelvin burst my bubble. “We put SERAM on indefinite hiatus because we don’t have the talent for story writing,” he explained.
However, he also added that he’s still on the lookout for horror geeks who love all things scary to join the SERAM team, so if you happen to know any—you could drop him a line.
Kelvin also told us that Two Book Nerds Talking (TBNT) was still their most popular show to date. It’s a more modern take on a book club, where hosts Diana and Honey sit down with authors, discuss key ideas, and more.
Their Mandarin-spoken show 青春抛物线 (Pillars of Youth) was also a runner up in the 2019 Asia Podcast Award in the category of Best Entertainment Podcast.
Radio Not, Here They Come
Outside of Malaysia, Renegade Radio already has an impressive audience across countries like the United States, UK, Australia, and China.
When asked about the sustainability of the network, Kelvin told us that they already are monetising in several different ways.
“Besides advertising, we also provide services such as consultation, audio solutions and branded podcast creation.”
He explained that he has about 8 more shows on the back burner that are still in their early stages, and he hopes to have about 20 shows under their network in the next 2 years.
What I really want to see in the next 2 years is to be completely sustainable as a podcasting network, and we’d get there by helping other podcasters grow and educating Malaysians as to what a podcast is.Kelvin Tay, Co-founder & CEO, Renegade Radio.
Whilst radio reaches more listeners in the country compared to podcasts, there’s no denying the value that podcasts bring.
Unlike radio (which takes on the approach of talking your ear off about anything and everything), podcasts usually focus on a single theme or niche.
Think Renegade Radio’s book discussions, or BFM’s startup business features or their market watch podcasts with industry experts.
The point is, even though Malaysian podcasts are in their infancy, in a few years or so, they could go head to head with radio for the dominance of listener attention.
After all, podcasts are already creeping up as a silent player that more content creators are looking to capitalise on.
- You can read more about other startup features we’ve written about here.
Featured Image Credit: Renegade Radio