#PeopleStories: On air. Online. On point.

Jaideep Patel checks the pulse of the radio industry with CEO of Astro Radio Datuk Jake Abdullah.
Jaideep Patel
Publisher for the Malaysia and Singapore offices of GTI Media Asia.

Meeting Datuk Jake in person is an experience in itself. After all, the man stands at six feet tall and is seemingly built entirely of muscle. This hulking figure has been a mainstay of the local radio industry for over 20 years, having started off as Jakeman, the DJ who has grown to become a household name in Malaysia. 

Datuk Jake’s larger-than-life persona extends beyond the realm of radio. This family man and father of three also happens to be a social media celebrity amongst Malaysian fitness enthusiasts with close to 22,000 followers on his Instagram account @jakeabdullah


Talk to us about your relentless work ethic.

People always ask me what my secrets are, but the plain and simple answer is this: I don’t give up. I will keep getting up each time I fall down. It’s as simple as that. I just work hard. This tenacity has been built in me by my mother, who used to tell me ‘Don’t let anybody tell you you’re not good enough.’

I also live my life by my simple ‘do five good deeds a day’ philosophy. I’ve developed this habit within myself, and I have trained my staff to follow this as well. I just recently instilled this within my daughter, who I told to take six months off from university. She took the time to become a waitress, learning how to take orders and clean tables. It has developed her character, as it has mine. 

How has radio changed over the last 20 years?

The fundamental difference, as I see it, is that radio has moved from being just a platform to a content provider and aggregator. It is agnostic of any one platform. For instance, most of our listenership today comes from mobile devices. Some of the things we do aren’t even radio-centric. For a network of radio stations, we actually create more video content than audio content. When we first started off, we had one videographer. Now our digital team consists of 64 people!

A recent example would be LiteFM’s Steve & Shaz’s Hoarders which gathered over two million views. It’s all about telling a good story. When it comes to that bit, radio hasn’t changed at all. But it is a whole lot more than what it was, thanks to things like tech disruption and social media. This also means it can reach out to even more people, which is a testament to how powerful radio still is as a medium. Moving forward, our ethos is that we want people to ‘watch radio’.

What kind of people are right for being on-air?

I’m glad you asked this because I still train people to this day! First and foremost, you need to be able to tell a story. You need to be articulate. I always tell my on-air talents to be themselves: if you speak one way when you’re on-air, and then speak another way when you’re off-air, then you are detached. Don’t try to be someone you are not. 

The good news is that no one is born a storyteller. You learn from your life experiences. In my case, my years as an announcer has helped me with public speaking, which is a skill I employ when I give guest lectures at universities. The bottomline is this: you must be a great storyteller. That is the only prerequisite for a job in radio. You must know how to seek out the exciting bits and filter out the boring stuff to keep the listeners and viewers engaged 24-7.

Do you think Malaysian graduates are prepared for the radio industry?

I would look for someone who brings value to the table, by being able to think differently from the way I do. I believe this comes down to education: a more holistic form of education with greater emphasis on social skills and interaction.

What I would also like to see happen more frequently in the near future is companies taking in more interns from an earlier stage of their tertiary education – perhaps from the first year onwards – to give them real-life working experience. I started off in this industry as an announcer some 21 years ago. Similarly, about half of my current staff today have worked their way up from junior positions. 

What would be your final words of advice to coursesmalaysia.com readers?

Work with something you are passionate about. When you do work that you enjoy, you are fulfilled. I love fitness, I love music, I love entertainment. I have always pursued things that I like doing. I’ve been doing this for 21 years and I wouldn’t change any of it for the world.

On top of that, the thing that I believe people get wrong sometimes is the concept of time management, which is an oxymoron. ‘Time management’ doesn’t exist. You can only manage yourself, so just do that and you will start seeing positive outcomes in your life.