Let’s OOGA this!

ooga x marketing weekender

“Let’s OOGA this!” was the cover story of MARKETING WEEKENDER ISSUE 315

In conversation with the heart of a radio station

By Raihan Hadi

Have you ever been to the land below the wind?

You know, that place where a scenic mountainous terrain ranges from long white sandy beaches to coastal mangroves, from rivers to fertile plains, from limestone caves to ranges covered with rainforest, culminating in the majestic granite massif of Mount Kinabalu, top 5 highest mountains in Southeast Asia.

I’m talking about Sabah, home to 32 different indigenous groups that consist of over 30 ethnic races, often described as the people who make visiting Sabah so special.

From an entertainment point of view, what makes Sabah special for Sabahans is a radio station.

Can you imagine that? I couldn’t at first.

This radio station called Kupikupifm has been a key turning point in shaping up the socio-economic development of Sabah since 2016, and as they approach their 7th year in action later this month, I thought of taking you all for a deep dive into this amazing venture.

For a station that resides in the heart of every Sabahan, who better to take us on this journey than the people who are at the heart of this radio station?

Thoughts turned into action and I visited two of the co-founders of Kupikupifm just a couple of days ago, two amazing ladies who answer to the names Fui and Rita.

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Fui K. Soong (left) and Rita Sim (right)

Fui and Rita, along with their other partners, are originally researchers and co-founders of CENSE Media Sdn Bhd, which is the licensee and the marketing arm for Kupikupifm in Sabah and CITYPlus, another Chinese radio station in South Klang Valley and Kuching. CENSE Media has now been rebranded as OOGA X, and you’ll just have to read further to find out what that means.

Let’s get into this eye-opening conversation I had with Fui and Rita.

Did you always know that you would be rolling out radio stations while doing your research projects?

Fui: We really had no idea our work would lead us here. I’m originally from Sabah, and I’ve always felt that people from Sabah needed something to help them shape their lives and provide them with something they could call their own.

We were originally involved in research projects about the socio-economic development of Sabah, which led us to find out various things among which the most important point to focus on was the Sabahan vernacular.

Rita: And if you know Sabahans, you know that they’re one of the most segmented people in this whole region, and to be able to successfully cater to their needs through entertainment is a great challenge.

So we had to think of ways in which we could engage more with the people, and instead of us talking to them off the bat in the traditional ways and language, we had to hear them out first.

And the best way to hear people out is to immerse yourself in their culture, their way of life, their music! We put it all in an equation and the outcome was Kupikupifm.

ooga x raihan hadi marketing magazine fui rita
I must’ve said something funny…

So you became an instant sensation?

Fui: Not at all! Even if you know Sabahans, you have to give them time to know you. That itself was a journey through which we had to rediscover ourselves every single day.

For a market as segmented as this one, you must keep your mind open to learn as much as you can about the people and their needs. What Sabahans needed was not just another radio station representing the mass media to them, that’s what the big boys do.

For us, being a tiny radio station, the way for us to become a part of these amazing people was to be the one representing them. Which is why we started airing 80% local content by local artists, which meant that we had to reach out and collect local songs.

Rita: Which wasn’t easy. Many of these artists do not have the high tech gadgets to record their wonderful music. So we had to work with what we had.

Today, we have this huge library of 4,000+ local Sabahan songs and it’s still growing, helping us cater to a market that others did not tap into appropriately.

We came forward offering inclusivity by immersing ourselves in the community, ensuring that engagement remained top priority. The best way to engage with people is to listen to their heart’s desire, thus becoming the desire itself.

This is how we have become the No. 1 radio station of Sabah today.

And what about CITYPlus? Can you tell us a little more about it?

Rita: CITYPlus is our Chinese business radio station that caters to primary Chinese-speaking PMEBs (Professionals, Managers, Executives and Businessmen) and SMEs in Malaysia. It was the result of our findings of a lack of true Mandarin content in radio here in Malaysia for Chinese businessmen, especially those running SME’s.

It’s needless to say that Chinese people are extremely enterprising and love to stay up-to-date about the latest in business and their community. Moreover, there are a wide range of ethnicities that are embracing Mandarin content.

And so we had to think about the three pillars of Chinese communities, which are communications, associations, and education – the common language for which is Mandarin.

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The DJ’s of CITYPlus

Fui: Using that as our base, we began CITYPlus to cater to the Chinese community in Malaysia. The key aspirations of CITYPlus is to connect the SME communities from around the region, including China, Taiwan, and Singapore with that of Malaysia.

We not only keep them informed, but help shape the younger generation as well through the station, which we believe has always been the original intention of radio – shaping the communities that it’s audience represents by keeping them informed and being their voice.

How about a quick case study for the readers?

Fui: For that you really have to speak to Lester, the GM of Kupikupifm and our guy on the ground in Sabah.

lester miol kupikupifm ooga x
Lester C. Miol, GM, Kupikupifm

Lester it is then! (Quick convo over the phone)

Lester: We had a couple of clients who wanted to advertise with us and flew in from KL a while ago. The moment they arrived at our office, we told them that we won’t be able to give them any figures on listenership, as we don’t operate that way here.

They were about to make a u-turn when I asked them for a chance to let them speak to Sabahans on the streets to find out exactly where we stand. It didn’t take them long to find out after speaking to a handful that we are in the heart of Sabahans.

That is the magic of staying involved with a community, we became so deeply immersed in it that we are a vital part of it now.

I also want to add that, seeing how much the station has touched the lives of Sabahans all around the state and globally is my proudest moment. Changing their mindset to not be afraid to be themselves and embrace their culture and identity and where they came from.

Also, being able to assist our growing clients to be the “connector” of their brands/business to the local Sabahan which then opens up doors for more job opportunities for the locals is also one our proudest achievements as a team.

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The DJ’s of Kupikupifm

Back to you ladies, why OOGA X?

Fui: We have developed our strengths in OOGA (Online, Offline, on-Ground, on-Air) X with the two radio stations in the last 7 years. Given the uprising of the Borneo ecosystem with the Pan Borneo highway under construction and the capital of Indonesia being shifted, the opportunity presented itself to us in the form of our strengths.

Rita: We have already tapped successfully into catering to the people’s need for curated content, and using that along with the Online, Offline, on-Ground and on-Air, we have developed the OOGA X ecosystem to become the source of strength and growth for SME’s that will soon be kicking off in the region. The X is the variable that represents the unknown lengths of opportunities that our clients and our audience will be exploring with us.

I guess this leaves me with my last question for the day – when is OOGA X kicking off?

Fui: All readers of WEEKENDER are welcome to read our deck and let’s have a chat soon.

Download the OOGA X deck from the QR code below and email [email protected] to start a conversation with us.

ooga x

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APPIES Asia Pacific 2022 is happening in Malaysia!

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This year’s winners will receive Gold, Silver or Bronze trophies for 21 categories, and 6 special Best of Best categories (red trophies) that require no submissions!

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