Brunei Radio Stations vs London Capital FM

A couple of months back, one of my friends messaged me and asked me to write about the radio stations in Brunei especially after Kristal Radio pulled off the London Capital FM and Capital Gold stations off the air. I told him I am not so sure whether I can do that as I don't listen that much to the radio since they pulled off those two radio stations either and since I no longer drive my car to work, it has been very quiet. I used to blast the radio with my collection of 80s rock and heavy metal sounds. Nowadays, it's a dignified silence.

However since the sms, I did make an effort to listen to all the stations that are available in Brunei just to fulfill that request. If you are curious, there are seven radio stations in Brunei - RTB currently has five stations - Nasional 92.3 fm, Pilihan 95.9 fm, Pelangi 91.4 fm, Harmoni 94.1 fm and Nur-Islam 93.3 fm and Kristal Radio has the Kristal FM. In addition, the British Garrison also has its own network of BFBS radio 1 available in Brunei with English and Nepali services.

Radio Brunei first started in May 1957 and became the Malay Service when the English service sharing with the Chinese service started in 1965. In 1975 Radio Brunei became part of RTB. The two services remained until 1996 when 91.4 fm now known as Rangkaian Pelangi was launched in January 1996 with the Malay service renamed as Rangkaian Nasional and the English and Chinese service known as Rangkaian Pilihan. Rangkaian Harmoni was set up in July 1996 and Rangkaian Nur Islam in 1997. NetRadio was introduced in 2001 making all these stations available through the internet. Rangkaian Nasional remained focused as the BBC of the networks while Harmoni focuses on family oriented entertainment, Pelangi on the younger generation and Nur-Islam focuses on issues related to Islam and Pilihan remained the multilingual service.

Kristal Radio owned by the DST Group started life as a mystery radio station airing Capital FM in 1995 followed by Capital Gold and the recitals of Al-Quran followed soon after that. It wasn't until 1997 that Kristal FM was actually launched when it became the first licensed private commercial radio operating in Brunei. Kristal FM focuses on the 16 to 35 age group - some say that it is more popular than the RTB equivalent of Rangkaian Pelangi. Though my RTB ex-colleagues would not agree to that.

I used to be an English newsreader on the then English service from 1992 to 1994 and in those days, there was no competition yet in the radio services. So I had a captured audience for those waiting for the national English news on the radio and I used to go live at about 7.30 in the morning which is the prime listening time to people who were driving then. So I do have first hand experience of the changes since my time and those of the later 1990s and the current 2000s of the radio services in Brunei.

What do I think of the changes? This is a no contest question. The changes since the early 1990s to now are tremendous. The various services have allowed for listeners to have choices as to what they wanted to hear and receive the radio service of their choices. This can be seen by the number of callers and even nice comments on the opinion pages of the local newspapers about how the stations have fulfilled the expectations of the listeners.

But are our radio stations capable of taking the place of Capital FM and Capital Gold which were taken off the air? Now, that's the $64,000 question as they say. All our radio stations are basically Malay language based. Even though some programs are multilingual or rather bilingual, it is not easy trying to be as good as those native English speakers or London speakers at Capital FM and Capital Gold DJs. And they have access to the very singers and information as opposed to us here some thousands of miles halfway round the world from London. I would say that in terms of English language services, our stations will not be able to take the places of those two stations.

The question is do we want to? We are after all our own nation. We should be capable of doing much better than just to emulate some foreign radio stations. With the internet, we are even capable of doing just that and we don't even need a radio station. BruStu internet radio (Though when I tried to access it last night, I was not able to. Is it still on?) is the one and only prime example of what Bruneians are capable of. Started by the and run by the Brunei Students community, the internet radio station have shown how not difficult it is to run radio stations and at the same time what the Bruneians are capable of doing without Capital FM or Capital Gold.


s@s said…
I think our radio stations could go further than just airing hit songs.

Statistics has shown that advertisement works more through radio than tv, so that is another room to explore.

That is also an indication how powerful a radio is.

Perhaps, the radio stations should be more educational in an entertaining way, open their audiences to a larger segment, involve the young kids to be more creative and proactive.
The Kristal people are trying their best to appeal to the young crown back home. I think we have to give it to them from their efforts in trying to bring that new flavour to people back home in Brunei. I think we all need it....especially after spending x amount of years overseas.
Anonymous said…
For me, 93.3 FM is definitly the best local radio stations. It's full of knowledge although some are repeated but it is good because as a muslim sometime i forget what the zikirs and doa to be read daily. There is a specific doa which i like though and they always air it on after Azan maghrib or Isyak. The doa covers all aspects of life here and hereafter. Frankly speaking as someone who is always learning and striving to be a better muslim this radio station is definitly a good medium to learn especially when finding time to read and learn new things about being a muslim and what a muslim should do.
Anyway, like sas said the 'i think our radio stations can go further than just airing hit songs', which is proven here with the Nur islam 93.3FM Radio station. nya orang brunei "besar pahalanya" for the one who initiated this radio station.
Ps. these days i can also seem to listen radio stations from Malaysia. And in KB they have the british army radio station i think it's called on 92.9fm i think. They always play the latest songs from UK.
AnakBrunei said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
AnakBrunei said…
I started to listen to the local radio stations since Capital was taken off air and I was pleasantly surprised to find the quality of some of the DJ's have improved dramatically.

The content is pretty good. With the advent of the www, DJ's can simply pull up interesting stuff which listeners would be interested in like top ten lists, horoscopes, quizzes etc.

I was disconcerted at first by some of the morning shows where one DJ would converse entirely in english while the other entirely in malay. After a while, you get used to it.

Some of the current crop of DJ's are such naturally bubbly personalities, it really enhances the quality of the shows, as compared to the rather formal, staid styles of the old school DJ's of yesteryear :)

Anyway, thats my two cents...
Anonymous said…
I also love to listen to 93.3, be it in the car or in the house. Being 24 hours a day really help me to better myself especially during this fasting month! I love the programme on 'bicara mufti' as anon said earlier, it does repeat once in a while BUT thats the beauty of listening to radio because if you miss the earlier one, you can always catch up. Even ASTRO programmes keep on repeating once in a while! Keep up 93.3 and thumps up to those responsible for this station. So, there is no excuses for us not to know what Islam has thought us as a true muslim! Its back to one's choices.
Anonymous said…
I think it depends too on what the DJ can offer us so the role of the DJ is important. I can't help but notice that some of our local DJ's are "capi capi" and lacks professionalism.
Anonymous said…
aside from the lingual barriers some of the local radio djs, problems such as *takes deep breath* limited freedom of speech, limited live interviews, limited uber-famous guest stars, limited 24hr feature, limited form of humor, limited themed hour/session/channel *sigh* just makes our listerners seek other sources to fill in those gaps that our local radio lacks. Now... to make a clear point, no one is saying capitalfm/capital gold is better than our local stations, Its just that that they provide what our local stations dont have. Its always good to have options. its like comparing taste of lemon and sugar, both are good in their own respect, just that after being fed sweet and sour for more than 2years, it is just humane to rant when that well acquired taste was taken off our daily diet. :)

/ps i seriously miss capitalgold..
parishiltonbrunei said…
i listen to kristal n pelangi most of the time, they are good i admit... long ago, during my kiddy years, before kristal n pelangi were born, i listened to national radio, then radio music from malaysia was born n passed thru here, i switched from national to radio music, i was shocked at the concept of billingual songs they brought (of course the DJs still spoke malay) but they played malay n english songs alternately... then later on, capital fm came in, i was more excited at the wide range of music they carried from UK esp. that i was a big fan of UK pop musics during that time... then we pulled out capital fm, it really disappointed me... so i tried to tune in to kristal n pelangi, trying to adapt my ears to the DJs and the range of musics... i found them similar to radio music at first, but soon discovered that they are much better... the DJs speak billingually, play quite a good range of songs... both malay n english n other international songs too... and more up to date compared to the malaysian radio stations like radio music, era n others... although i may sometimes get irritated at the way the DJs speak, i still find our local radios are good... our radios have less adverts compared to other radio stations coz it really annoys me, when i tune in to a radio only to find myself listening to adverts... so yess, be proud to our local radios, they've done good jobs entertaining us bruneians...
Anonymous said…

i think all the radio stations or at least 95.9 could update us with traffic report especially if that area had an accident. Just like UK radio station they offer such facility, and i m sure all drivers out there agree on this. Rather than the DJs giggling away crazily to their own jokes. and off the topic: why do all drivers irratingly slow down to see wat is happening? like they can help or just be nosey! really!
Anonymous said…
I guess when you compare a more resourceful giant (read: Capital FM and the like) against the opposite (our local versions), there's going to be a difference. It can't be helped though. Our stations are catering to the locals to the best of their abilities and resources, I trust. And there's always room for growth and improvement=)
Sayeed said…
I do enjoy listenin to the local radio shows, however it is abit annoying about what reda said earlier concerning the 2 djs talking to each other in different languages. If they were to mix and match (meaning both speaking in both languages), it would've been alot better I tink.

And also most of the callers are 'chidish' so to speak.

We need to attract more 'older' generations of listeners, to get them involve by calling to the radio shows and talk about something not so serious but also humourous in a more mature way.

My two cents...
"80s rock and heavt metal sounds" nice.. :)
kediaku said…
I listen to pelangi or kristal normally, depending on the djs. I particularly enjoy whenever DJ Iril, Jenny M, or Izan, especially when she is plays her "old school oldies".

What i particularly miss about capital fm or capital gold is the news. I am glad at least kristal fm at 1400 and 1900, has BBC news on.
Nonnie said…
Some local Djs sounds so exaggerating with their high pitch yelling and over-syok-sendiri attitude.

Err... Note that I say "Some", not all.
Anonymous said…
People do try, but as someone who has listened to more than Capital, I can say there is a serious lack of activism in the media- unsurprising, considering that most of them are state owned or heavily restricted visibly or invisibly.

There is very little frank call-in discussion, because everyone is afraid of being traced. That's what makes radio still the no.1 form of media-people can still talk over the airwaves. All we have is tepid discussion of recycled print rubbish, or tiny issues that are trivial at best.

There's a lot to do if any improvement is to be heard. Under the current climate, the only way to do this is to set up a station over the border and transmit in!
Anonymous said…
hi, i know this is an old post. i am from miri, now in kl. been missing so much on Capital FM. spending my youth studying every nite while listening to most ''hitzz'' songs thru Capital. start to feel nostalgic... lol..
Crystal and rangkaian pilihan are not bad in nite show.. with the soothing ballad songs.

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