As I’ve grown older, the necessity to listen to music every day has decreased considerably. On some days, my favourite songs switched from beautiful melodies to just plain headache-inducing noise. Soon, I’ll sound like my parents, turning the volume down on my music just to complain that whatever I’m listening to is pure utter garbage. Testing out many solutions, I’ve turned to jazz, classical and even white noise to get me through car rides where total silence will just lead to me dozing off. But even those get a bit too much sometimes.
With the arrival of Spotify and other similar music streaming sites, the days of listening to the radio have been long gone for me and for good reasons, why listen to the radio that’s 90% commercials and 10% being just the same songs played over & over again? But reminiscing on those days spent listening to the radio, I realized I really did miss tuning into radio talk shows. Lonely people can attest to the fact that these shows keep you company, liken to listening to a friend with the added bonus of not having to contribute anything to the conversation (Introverts unite!).
So naturally I turned to the second best thing to come out of streaming sites (apart from music, duh): podcasts! Gone were the days where a person’s voice, opinions and thoughts were only aired to the public if they were a part of a radio station, the internet has made it accessible for anyone to record from the comfort of their bedroom, and no fancy studio equipment needed. Podcasts are so varied and are such a big thing that Spotify even divides them into multiple genres so you can take your pick.
From the usual News & Politics to Educational and even True Crime, there’s no reason for someone to say podcasts are boring or for “old people”. But sometimes those podcasts seem unrelatable or irrelevant to us Malaysians as the most popular ones stem from other countries like the U.S. or the U.K. However not to fret, as there are actually many homegrown ones, all available on Spotify for you to tune into! Best thing is, the podcasts are made by Malaysians for Malaysians!
1. HELLO, HELLO, KOPI, KE MILO?
Created by Milo Faeqo, Hello, Hello, aired its first episode just March last year and already has 62 episodes in total. When starting this podcast in Malaysia, Milo wanted to find a way to document & remember conversations with inspiring people so in the future, he can look back and see whether he has improved by just talking to them. The premise is simple, the guest of choice sits down with Milo and answers his questions pertaining to their work, career and even more personal & philosophical questions. Ranging from local guests who dabble in the coffee, photography, music, filmmaking and radio industries, you really get to discover the current creatives of Malaysia who might not have the mainstream attention on them but definitely have the talent & chops to compete with the big dogs.
Right now, it’s ranked #18 on Spotify Malaysia’s Arts & Entertainment Podcasts section and it’s not hard to see why, listening to “Hello, Hello, Kopi Ke Milo?”, you get a sense that Milo is invested in each guest and isn’t just reading off a set of prewritten questions. The conversation flows like two friends catching up after a long time and at the end of every episode, his flips the control over to the guest to ask him any questions they want to know about him or the show or anything at all, making him less one-dimensional and not just a host with no story of his own. Most of the episodes range from 40 minutes to 1 hour & 30 minutes, perfect for the drive home during KL’s rush hour or when needing a little inspiration from the otherwise dreary working week.
2. THE BORAK MINDA PODCAST
If you’ve read one of our previous articles on where to seek mental health in Malaysia, here’s a podcast tailored just for you. This podcast was started by the Malaysian Youth Mental Health Initiative (MINDAKAMI or MINDA), a self-funded youth group that focuses on creating projects related to mental health awareness and helping those suffering from it and the Borak Minda podcast being one of them. Hosted by Zulaikha Mohamad, her soothing voice sets a calming tone to an otherwise taboo subject. Done in “bahasa rojak”, this podcast mixes a combination of Bahasa Malaysia & English, making it truly Malaysian. Airing its first episode late April this year, the podcast is still relatively new but it’s well-produced and will be relevant to anyone listening to it at this current time.
The episodes of course, focuses on mental health issues such as OCD disorder, negative patterns of thought, depression and even has a episode on how to get mental health help in Malaysia (which we recommend, although hey, our article is good enough but it’s always great to get more tips)! Some of the episodes has our host interviewing a range of guests, ones suffering from mental illness to share their experiences & stories and a Masters in Counselling holder on her experiences in being a counselor in Malaysia, making each episode insightful in their own different ways.
3. BFM: GENERAL
Not entirely sure if this counts as a podcast but Spotify counts it as one so let’s just take it as the truth. BFM, as all Malaysians know is a popular Malaysian radio station and this podcast is basically all their live segments uploaded onto a platform for anyone around the world to listen to. But here’s the thing about BFM, it’s only aired in the Klang Valley & Kuala Lumpur area so this podcast would be great for locals living in other states or whoever traveling overseas if they don’t want to miss out on their daily segments or even just busy KL people who don’t have the time to be listening to the radio to catch a particular segment.
So whether you’re looking to discover new music or to listening to industry professional discussing about important matters, you won’t be disappointed as BFM always introduce listeners to dozens of different musical genres in their hour-long Into the Blue segment and with their other segments, dabble in subjects such as Malaysian news & politics, world news and health & science, perfect for anyone who wants to broaden their musical or general knowledge whether on the way to work or lazing around at home.
If it’s too overwhelming on what to choose, there’s other BFM podcasts but are more specific in what they air such as BFM: The Breakfast Grille for all you nocturnal people out there who will miss their most known segment that invites business leaders, policymakers and changemakers for some intense questioning, not something most people can handle early in the morning before they had their daily cup of coffee and BFM: On The Ball, a segment airing every Friday which recounts back any football (Champions League, Europa League, International Football) highlights and also interestingly enough has a part where they discuss injured players of each club.
4. KUNYIT SQUARED
To take a slur and name a podcast after it, is the ultimate form of empowerment and this rings true for the podcast Kunyit Squared. Hosted by two gay Malaysian men, it is named after a typical Malay insult towards gay people and its meaning? Well you gotta do the Googling yourself, even us at The Cool Bears aren’t that The Cool Bears enough to mention its rather gross, demeaning reasoning. This podcast from Malaysia really opens up an authentic conversation that is needed in our very conservative country and enables us who aren’t exposed to homosexuality to see their world and hear their experiences. Each episode also feature prominent pop culture such as the Queen biopic released in 2018 and the iconic Black Mirror mini-movie episode, Bandersnatch so even if you don’t fit in any of the alphabets of LGBTQ+, there’s something relevant to us straights. Jokes aside, one feels so optimistic knowing this podcast exists and allows a safe space for Malaysian homosexuals to relate to and be understood.
From discussing the supposed addiction to Grindr (aren’t straight boys just as addicted to Tinder?), the bullying they faced while growing up, to coming out in such a conservative country like Malaysia and interviews with queer artists, transmen and queer activists, I highly recommend this podcast not just because of its importance to the Malaysian LGBTQ+ community but by the end of episode 1, you already feel like you’ve gained two best friends.
In a world where westernized media is king, these podcasts from Malaysia give me hope that as time goes by (and when more & more local media is produced), our people will appreciate & give more attention to whatever being’s produced right in our home country. There are still lots of doubts and hesitations about how we view our media products but I can assure you even just listening to a few episodes of these podcasts, the production & content is on par with other international podcasts available and with that added familiarity of the slangs we use and the similar experiences, thoughts & opinions we as Malaysians share. Support is everything and just by tuning in to any of their uploads, we are already one step closer to a more maju Malaysia.