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Terry Ong

Terry Ong

Red FM Deejay, 2009
Diploma in Multimedia, Advertising & Broadcasting

Many see being an on-air talent as not a real job, being not formal or just having too much fun but, in reality, it’s a serious job. A lot of planning, organising and quick thinking are needed to be spontaneous in giving right responses and in handling on-air situations.

09 July 2009

Red for success: A celebrity DJ’s story

Written by Christine Chan

He never meant to take up a career on radio. In fact this Limkokwing alumnus wasn’t even selected when he tagged along with his friend to audition for a radio show. But that voice got him in through the back door!

Writer Christine Chan digs out the story behind Terry Ong — the Red FM DJ — on air popularity.

He speaks in rapid fire sentences that it was tough trying to write everything down. He shoots off in so many directions that my mind just couldn’t keep up. He is charming. He is enthusiastic. Throw him any subject and he will have something to say.

Morning shows, afternoon shows, late evening shows; he’s covered practically all the slots at Red FM. He has been round the clock but now he has settled down in the Red Afternoons from 1pm to 4pm where he talks about food, music entertainment and celebrity news!

“Reviewing food is really my thing. I love food! Imagine talking about food during lunch hour, it certainly drives me hungry. It’s like a mini puasa session for me because I can’t eat during working hours!” said Terry with a big charming grin on his face.

It’s an eye-opening experience for me. You get to meet and socialize with many people from different countries, it’s just amazing.

A fun-loving guy Terry enjoyed his days at the University. “It’s an eye-opening experience for me. You get to meet and socialize with many people from different countries, it’s just amazing,” said Terry who was raised in Penang and shifted to Kuala Lumpur to further his studies in Multimedia, Advertising and Broadcasting at Limkokwing University.

How did the boy who dreamt to be writer end up being on-air? It was all so sudden and out-of-the-blue for Terry. In his last year of his studies, he tagged along with his friend for an audition in the RIM Chart Show. He was shortlisted but wasn’t selected.

Imagine his surprise when a few weeks later, he got a call from Red FM who heard his voice on the CD he recorded for the RIM Chart Show and they wanted him in! What luck! Without any haste, he grabbed the opportunity and joined the Red team. During the first few weeks, he wrote scripts and learnt the ropes around the whole production and radio scene before going on-air.

He won the “Best Talk Show” for his Red Mornings show at the Anugerah Seri Angkasa in 2006. On top of that, he was even chosen as one of the hosts for Malaysia’s World Vision 30-hour famine to raise funds for the recent earth quake in China and also the fight against poverty event in Malaysia held at the Bukit Jalil National Hockey Stadium.

How is it like to be an on-air deejay? “I love it. From the first day I stumbled into the career, it has excited me. You receive instant gratification from being on-air unlike some jobs which have delayed gratification. It’s like drugs to me to see the fruit of my labour. The response on-air is so quick that you instantly get callers the moment you make an announcement.”

Being a deejay is great but certainly there are downsides to it. “Although the live element is exciting, it can be very scary also. If you make a mistake on-air there is a very tiny window for adjustment or correction. You just have 7 seconds to hit the erase button!” said Terry who has an elder brother, Tommy who works in the entertainment industry for ClubMed Japan and a younger sister, Tammy who is an air stewardess for MAS.

“The trick often heard is to ‘be yourself’ but that doesn’t really quite work in the real world,” advices Terry for anyone who may want to be a radio deejay. “The best advice I can give is to be ‘not yourself’. If you were yourself, you’ll be not that polished, too casual and may use improper language. Thereby, you need to choose a ‘part of yourself’ whether to be ‘funny’, ‘sexy’ and turn it into a personality that the public may like.”

Today, Terry sees music as a growing industry. “The competition is getting stiffer. There are stations that focus on music genre catering to particular needs of listeners. More stations are springing up, too, like wild mushrooms,” said Terry who used to stutter for almost 3 years during his high school years due to intense nervousness.

“Many see being an on-air talent as not a real job, being not formal or just having too much fun, but, in reality it’s a serious job. A lot of planning, organizing and quick thinking is needed to be spontaneous in giving responses and handling on-air situations.”

Although he has his own style Terry looked up to other talents such as Patrick Teoh. “He is just awesome.” He also credits Lil Kev and Fly Guy as the ones who pioneered a new era of radio broadcasting. It used to be strict and formal. But both Lil Kev and Fly Guy made radio broadcasting more relaxed and comfortable. Manglish are even accepted nowadays.

Success means being comfortable with yourself. You have to be happy with what you are and who you are. You can’t please everyone, thus if you are in peace with yourself, everything will be smooth sailing.

How does Terry view success? “Success means being comfortable with yourself. You have to be happy with what you are and who you are. You can’t please everyone, thus if you are in peace with yourself, everything will be smooth sailing.”

“Failure to me is when you are insecure about yourself. Or there is a need to run people down or make fun of others just to make themselves feel better. Those are true failures, no matter how rich or famous they are,” said Terry.

Terry thanked both of his parents -  his father who passed away when he was 12 years old and mother who passed away 2 years ago. “I loved my parents very much and they have raised me up well. They have prepared me and my siblings to face life and to be strong. They taught us to be independent and fend for ourselves.”

Terry dreams of setting up his own radio station in the future and also to give motivational talks. We wish him every success in his ventures.

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