There is always a reason to celebrate the first of anything and Brunei welcomed radio in this fashion. Local radio broadcasting was officiated in Brunei in the late 1950s with a holiday message from Al-Marhum Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, during the Eid Al Fitr festivities.
The first words on radio in Brunei was on May 2, 1957, uttered by Brunei’s first radio announcer, Dayangku Intan PDP Pg Hj Apong who gleefully exclaimed “Inilah Radio Brunei” (this is Radio Brunei).
The technology was such that it could only be heard by those living in a five kilometre radius of Bukit Salilah, where the transmitter was. But it was a turning point for communications because it meant that messages could be transmitted to large audiences quickly.
From there, broadcast radio continued to grow in terms of programming and language, including English, Dusun and Iban. It even went on to include stations from overseas such as the London-based Capital FM, Radio Australia and Radio Malaya.
It was through these early channels that Bruneians first heard of Malay entertainment icon Teuku Zakaria Teuku Nyak Puteh, otherwise known as P. Ramlee, and English rock legends The Beatles, both of whom many modern Brunei musicians see as influential to their sound.
Local bands were also highly active in both the radio and entertainment scene. In 1963, the first ‘Bintang Radio’ (Radio Star) competition was organised for the fans of traditional Malay Keroncong (folk music) to the step dancing of Zapin.
At the same time, there were bands from the 1960s era such as Rayuan Irama (loosely translated as rhythm appeal) and Melati Puteh (white jasmine), who paved the way for modern Brunei band music.
In the late 90s, bands like Eda Brig, H8, Mic Bandits and WLK started to surface with live performances to crowds. Local rock ‘n’ roll band Hurricane Honey (formerly known as IMTS. You can read more about them in our band interviews on pages 26 – 29) is no stranger to radio with some songs debuting on public radio in 2006.
Even as music has evolved, radio remains the best channel to reach a large audience especially when bands want to let everyone know that they’ve got something new. “We wanted to get more private gigs so we thought that radio was the best platform to promote our music at the time,” said Hurricane Honey frontman Nol Kamaruddin.
Local groove metal band WLK has also made airwaves with their 2007 single ‘The Virus’ which is still played on radio even now.
Meanwhile, veteran alternative rock group Eda Brig has managed radio plays for three songs I Don’t Care, Crimson Skies and King & Queen, all from their self-titled 2011 LP.
The band’s frontman Alif said that radio has provided an avenue for bands to introduce their latest songs to the public.
“Radio has helped aspiring musicians showcase their talents. In our case, we’ve been invited for interviews and performances on radio a few times which has been great for the band’s exposure,” he said.
WLK, said that radio introduced variety into local music and helped widen the scope of music in Brunei. Band bassist Dinny Gapar said that Bruneians are getting better at music production and can create a product that matches studio production quality overseas. “It’s good to hear originals (songs) from bands and that gives a sense of how music has developed from just bands doing song covers,” he said.
Brunei’s own state broadcaster, Radio Televisyen Brunei (RTB), has been instrumental in building the foundations of radio from its early days. RTB runs five radio networks: Nasional, Harmoni, Pelangi, Pilihan and Nur Islam, all of which feature a wide variety of radio content from mainstream music to religious programmes (one of them also carries a Nepalese radio programme that runs for a few hours specifically for the Gurkhas in Brunei!).
Today, the boundaries of radio continue to be pushed, each time breaking new ground in terms of content and technology. Just like any other technology, radio needs to evolve to navigate the changing world.
Progresif Radio is the latest evolution of radio to come out of Brunei- it is the first application based internet streaming radio in the country. Listeners will get to experience the future of radio and music in Brunei with unlimited possibilities. In the true spirit of innovation, Progresif Radio features fresh content live streaming through the app.
Progresif Radio also ties in perfectly with our ongoing support for the creative industry in Brunei, by having content on demand and live radio, the app becomes a platform where local musicians can perform to an audience on-air or through pre-recorded shows. This means that you can listen to your favourite local artists any time you want!
At Progresif, we’ve always believed in new ideas and Progresif Radio reflects this belief. We’re glad to bring you our latest innovation.
Progresif Radio is now available for download on both iOS and Android plaforms so check it out!
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