Music brings people together. And for the thousands of Filipinos living in the UAE, homegrown songs remind them of anything that is distinctly Pinoy – from the jeepney (passenger vehicle) to halo-halo (shaved-ice dessert) to adobo (meat in a sauce of vinegar, soy sauce and garlic) – and the smiles of loved ones who are thousands of miles away.
And this is exactly what inspired the founding of the country’s first radio station that is devoted to the large and still-growing Filipino expatriate community.
TAG 91.1 was the product of long and meticulous planning by the Arabian Radio Network (ARN) group, which was looking to tap into an enormous yet overlooked market in the country’s widely varied demographics.
“ARN has spent more than two years conducting wide-ranging -research to determine the under-served communities,” explains Louise da Costa, one of the station’s stable of presenters.
Brought over from Virgin Radio where she was dubbed the station’s “Filipina Queen”, da Costa joined the fledgling station to boost its young staff.
The station has an all--Filipino team and the management made it a point to visit the Philippines to scout for the right talent to represent its new project.
Studying Manila’s radio scene, ARN representatives zeroed in on the presenters from the country’s three leading stations. A Filipino music manager and a production manager were also hired.
In hindsight, the station is a grand offshoot of the 10pm to 6am Filipino radio programme heard over the past five years on Dubai Eye 103.8.
“Nearly 645,000 Filipinos live in the UAE and because of the strong demand, developing TAG 91.1 was a natural choice for ARN,” explains da Costa.
The Filipino community has welcomed the new station and social networking sites are already spreading the news. In fact, TAG 91.1 had more than 5,000 visits on its website during its debut broadcast on March 25. “Hundreds of thousands of listeners have already interacted with this programme,” says da Costa. “It has 10,000 Facebook likes, a number that is increasing by the minute.”
TAG 91.1 is also a multi-platform radio station: it broadcasts 24 hours a day, is online at www.tag911.ae, has dedicated iPhone, Android, Nokia and BlackBerry apps and a built-in player on all Samsung Smart -televisions.
The station’s line-up includes music, celebrity gossip, games and news, all dished out in a distinctly Pinoy fashion.
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