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Is that the attitude that you get from them?
Patrick: Unfortunately not. To think of it, I don't think it is the fault of the people in the management. It's just the system. Ever since broadcasting started in Malaysia, we have practised what is known as a "Studio System". In this system, the studio is all powerful. It has no personality. The personality is the station. They hold to the belief that the station makes the listeners, not the personalities. Which of course, all over the world is the other way around. Every media owner around the world knows that the media is strong because of the personality that it has. For example, in the press, people read a column because of the writer,
So you think the government stations are like that?
Patrick: Not only government, everybody.
Patrick: Take TV3 for example. How many years has TV3 been in existence---many, many years? Can you name one personality TV3 has developed for itself? Sure we remember people like Wan Zaleha (Radzi), but she developed her personality, on her own. Not because of TV3. They did not make any concerted effort to build her up as a personality in the station.
And therein lies a big portion of the problem---because of the system---we don't like personalities. Within the system itself, this personality concept and how it works is staring you right in the face. What would UMNO be without Anwar and Mahathir? Just another party. What would Radio 4 in the morning be without Yasmin Yusuff? Take her out, chuck somebody else there. It is not the same. If Yasmin were to go to Time Highway Radio tomorrow, I would say, at least a couple of hundred of thousand people would tune in to Time Highway Radio.
Unfortunately, the people who own the media here don't follow that. Maybe, they do realise it but they want to hang on to this. This is control.
So, basically with this duck issue---from what you say---people who are involved with radio are not prepared to change or to have the appropriate mentality to accept your radio personality?
Patrick: I really don't know what the reason is for this suspension. According to the Star, the director-general believes that I have breached the code of ethics (that applies in this case), I have absolutely no clue.
(We show Patrick some newspaper clippings on the duck issue). So these are all news to you too?
Patrick: Yeah. (Reading). I don't know what this is all about. I don't know what the fuss is all about, really. I was told by a listener from Singapore yesterday that the Radio Corporation of Singapore did an April Fool prank as well, within a span of two hours, they received 30,000 phone calls. And everybody thought it was a great joke.
Aren't they used to having pranks played on air?
Patrick: I don't know. I don't listen to them. But why not? The duck joke, in the broadcast that started it, there were so many clues anyway, that it was a joke. A lady called up claiming to represent the National Group For Animal Protection, which if you pronounce the abbreviation, is NGAP---which is Cantonese for "duck". That was a clue.
But not many people would think of that, though.
Patrick: And having somebody fired on the air. Oh, come on. Which managing director of a company will go on national radio and say, I am firing my creative director now?
Many people were fooled.
Patrick: If I was the owner of the radio station, I would say to myself, "My god, what a powerful medium I have in my hands right now. Patrick has just helped illustrate that in no certain terms. I am saying Patrick, since you have such a large following, why don't you come talk to me? Here are my objectives, here is what the station wants to do. Let's incorporate some of it too, because we need people to listen to you and we need to pass down what we want to tell people."
So you think people will not trust you less after you played a prank like that? A lot of people took it very seriously, this Rhythm of the Nation programme i.e. radio therapy. And when something like this duck joke came along, it was something totally unexpected. And they were angry at you for the betrayal of that trust. Do you think so?
Patrick: Betrayal of trust? (pause) Yeah, it could be. Like I said, I would rather believe that they are angry because they got fooled, that's all.
I didn't know it was an April Fool joke, and I felt some animosity towards you because I was fooled, and I had trusted you.
Patrick: If there was any mistrust after that, a few days later, we did a programme to sell trees. Somebody can say, "Huh, selling trees now, are you? Bastard, he is going from ducks to trees." And we sold quite a number of trees there. I just got a call from the guy who's doing it. He said that after the radio broadcast, they had a large number of donors sending in money to buy trees.
And this morning, I just spoke to somebody from the Malaysian Cancer Society. I did a programme on Dr William Tan's wheelathon around the country. She told me, five days after our broadcast on the wheelathon, they received donations totalling more than RM15,000. And the only publicity at that time, was the radio programme.
People will get over it, (holding up the newspaper clippings) if things like that hadn't been done.
But these articles don't say very much. They seem to be an attack against you.
Patrick: The press has not been particularly kind. They always make me out to be the bad guy. I am always getting rapped on the knuckles. But, it's okay.