This new app allows senior citizens to listen to oldies while learning to navigate online

·3-min read
VintageRadioSG presenters (from left) PN Bala Supramaniam, Brian Richmond, Rahima Rahim and Guo Xian Hua, all of whom are familiar voices for senior citizens on the Singapore airwaves. (PHOTO: VintageRadioSG/Screenshot)
VintageRadioSG presenters (from left) PN Bala Supramaniam, Brian Richmond, Rahima Rahim and Guo Xian Hua, all of whom are familiar voices for senior citizens on the Singapore airwaves. (PHOTO: VintageRadioSG / Screenshot)

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SINGAPORE — Singapore senior citizens now have a novel way to get themselves engaged with the online world – via familiar oldies music.

VintageRadioSG, a free digital music service available online and via mobile phone app, was unveiled on Wednesday (16 September). It will curate music, videos and photographs from the 1950s to the 1970s, to encourage the older generation to familiarise and make the transition to the digital world.

It is the brainchild of former radio deejays Mark Richmond and Aloysius Tan, who hope that this combination of content and accessibility will make it less intimidating for seniors who want to learn how to navigate and use online services.

“Radio has always been about community, about sharing and caring. We cannot deny that, as we’ve moved forward digitally, we have also left people behind,” said Tan, 53.

“It is our duty to hold the hands that built this nation and have the patience and good grace to help and guide them on their digital journey.”

To guide the seniors through their digital journey, VintageRadioSG has hired four radio presenters familiar to them: Mandarin presenter Guo Xian Hua (70 years old), Tamil presenter PN Bala Supramaniam (69), Malay presenter Rahimah Rahim (64) and Mark’s dad Brian (73), who will present in English.

Each of them will present two-hourly time-belts twice a day.

Richmond said he conceived the idea of a digital radio service for seniors during the COVID-19 circuit breaker period when he observed how older folks, especially those who were not tech-savvy, were struggling to cope with isolation during the lockdown.

He approached his former colleague Tan, who researched and developed the idea further. Tan worked on designing a user-friendly format that would spark the interest of seniors, while Richmond looked into the programming and content creation.

“VintageRadioSG was conceived to give back to our seniors, to enrich their lives and bring back happy memories for them. Music has always had the power to do that, and we believe we can use it to make their digital journey less intimidating, and even joyful,” said Richmond, 49.

The service has been registered as a not-for-profit social enterprise. Initial funding of the project has been mainly supported by donations from philanthropists, as well as grants from the oscar@sg fund, managed by Temasek Trust, and the ACI-Trampoline Fund, managed by Majurity Trust.

VintageRadioSG will be available on the App Store, Google Play Store & Huawei AppGallery, and streamed 24 hours a day.

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