Batam’s BE107FM radio station plays music of worship and hope for Singaporean commuters and homesick Indonesians — Salt&Light

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When a 9.1 magnitude undersea earthquake triggered a deadly tsunami that wiped out several communities across Southeast Asia on December 26, 2004, it claimed more than 230,000 lives.

The northern province of Aceh was hardest hit by the tsunami, which killed a total of 128,858 people and left more than 387,000 homeless.

“Many are looking for answers.”

As help came to survivors, helping them get their lives back together, encouragement and love came to the airwaves in the form of a radio program known as hope prevails. Contact numbers for local helplines and the people behind the program were included at the end of each program for listeners who wanted follow-up support and encouragement.

When volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and typhoons subsequently hit the region, the same content – ​​with relevant changes in greetings and closing – was broadcast again.

After an interruption of more than 10 years, the content of hope prevails was repurposed to complete a new program for the region around Batam when Covid rolled out across the world in 2020.

In the evenings (6-9pm Singapore time), songs and reports in Bahasa Indonesia on the Batam radio channel offer hope and encouragement. Photo courtesy of twr.org.

Mid 2021, it gave rise to an evening show in Bahasa Indonesian and a morning show in English. Broadcast on Batam-based BE107FM, the programs can be heard in the surrounding islands of the Riau Archipelago, Singapore and South Johor.

Programming is produced by Trans World Radio (TWR), a non-denominational Christian media ministry that broadcasts in more than 300 languages ​​in 190 countries through 11 major transmitter sites and more than 1,350 local outlets and AM and FM satellites .

(TWR should not be confused with another organization that produced Echo of Hopewhich previously aired on BE107FM and another frequency for almost 30 years).

From tsunami to Covid

Around 2014, TWR’s partnership with a Batam-based station carrying its programs ended.

“However, the team has always felt God’s call to ministry,” said Daniel Saputra, international ministry director for TWR Southeast Asia. Salt&Light.

In 2017, the team began to pray and seriously look for another radio station to partner with.

However, it wasn’t until Covid rolled out across the world in early 2020 that plans started to fall into place.

The response has been very encouraging from both believers and non-believers.

“There was so much stress and grief about what we had: social contact, freedom, opportunities for interaction, uncertainty of livelihood.

“Many were forced to struggle with fear, panic and even death,” Daniel said.

Daniel’s team has found a new Batam-based station, BE107FM, to partner with, to offer pandemic survival counseling.

It started with practical advice — like washing your hands frequently and wearing a mask — before moving on to taking charge of her emotional health. These were presented in general language suitable for all audiences, but based on the wisdom found in the Bible. TWR Asia developed it into a series known as From despair to hopewhich is available across the continent in different languages ​​and dialects.

(TWR has been in Asia since 1977, starting with shortwave broadcasts to China. It started in Indonesia in 2000.)

There were initially only 12 episodes of From despair to hope.

“But we needed more than that in Bahasa,” Daniel said. “So our Indonesian team adapted and added the programs of hope prevails they had since the Aceh tsunami.

The response has been very encouraging from people of faith and non-belief, Daniel said.

“Many are looking for answers. Especially about the will of God.

The story changer

Then came the opportunity for TWR to buy airtime from BE107FM on a longer term basis.

“But we didn’t have enough funds,” Daniel explained.

The idea received full support from all quarters of TWR, including its President, Lauren Libby, in the United States. He urged the team to pray for funding.

“Even our president said that this is a project where the funds were raised in the shortest possible time.”

“Shortly after, a couple came to our office in the US wanting to hear about the latest TWR projects,” Daniel said.

“When they heard about the Batam project, they prayed about it, then made a large donation that allowed TWR to greenlight Batam’s shows.”

This couple’s disposition was a “story changer,” said Daniel, who still gets goosebumps talking about the hand of God.

“Even our president said that this is a project where the funds were raised in the shortest possible time.”

Within a few months, on July 1, 2021, TWR officially started broadcasting programs from BE107FM. It is also available live online.

Contemporary Christian music and short films in English accompany listeners on the morning commute (6-10am Singapore time; 5-9am Batam time).

In the evening (6-9pm Singapore time), songs and reports in Bahasa Indonesia offer hope and encouragement to the homesick Indonesian migrant workers.

Content is secular at other times to comply with Indonesian broadcasting regulations which require 60% of programming to be secular.

‘BE’ is derived from the station’s Indonesian name, Gema Bentara, which means ‘the messenger’. The station is owned by an Indonesian entity.

New Song Reveals

Songs of genres ranging from modernized anthems to country to rock populate the English-language morning driving segment.

Singaporeans may not be immediately familiar with Christian artists like Lauren Daigle (reminiscent of Adele) and Jordan Feliz (whose jesus is coming back may appeal to fans of The greatest showman). Or Christian rock bands like Kutless and 7enth Time Down.

The programming team is also looking to showcase more talent and original Christian songs from Asia.

“The program showcases contemporary Christian music beyond the category of worship most Christians in Singapore are familiar with,” said Daren Tan, who presents the show from Monday to Friday. Salt&Light.

Daren, who is based in Singapore, was once a relief DJ with 98.7FM.

The programming team in the United States suggests new songs based in part on the musical tastes of Christians in Singapore (according to iTunes).

The programming team is also looking to showcase more talent and original Christian songs from Asia. (Email Daren Tan at [email protected] with links to audio or video files to consider).

Between the songs are shorts designed to uplift believers and respond to the hope offered by the Gospel and Christ during times like the pandemic.

The morning driving program in English, known as morning buzz couldn’t be more timely. Notably with traffic returning to pre-pandemic levels since the significant relaxation of Covid protocols in Singapore at the end of March.

Other programs in English, not hosted by Daren, also air on Saturdays and Sundays.

From homesickness to happiness

Programming in Bahasa Indonesia airs from 6-9pm Singapore time on BE107FM.

“She was so homesick, but found encouragement and happiness in the program.”

“Through contemporary music and short films, the lineup hopes to uplift and inspire,” Daniel said.

“Music and programming in local languages ​​is a powerful communication tool,” he added.

So far, feedback from Christians as well as listeners of other faiths has been positive.

Daniel said: “An Indonesian aid who had been stuck in Singapore for two years reached out to say she was homesick but found encouragement and happiness in the program.


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