Well, a couple of things to update here…
I’ve got an interview to call my own. Thanks to Mun San 🙂
Straits Times The Monday Interview on Life!
Poor boy makes good – Dasmond Koh may be one of the most visible male hosts on TV but the former DJ says he is no A-list star and knows where he stands
Straits Times, The (Singapore) – June 23, 2008
Author: Mak Mun San, the Monday Interview
DASMOND Koh lives up to his public persona of being a Mr Nice Guy.
The deejay-turned-TV host holds the door for people, and as he walks about MediaCorp’s Caldecott Hill compound, where we are having this interview, he offers a loud and cheery greeting to almost everyone he meets. ‘Gurmit, good morning!’ he says with a wave when he sees fellow host Gurmit Singh. ‘Hi, how are you? Where are you going?’ he asks another colleague.
In between, the boyish 36-year-old makes small talk with me, striking up an easy rapport even though this is our first meeting. This personable side of him is not surprising given his almost seven-year reign as the top deejay in Chinese radio from 1996 to 2002. During his time at Yes 93.3FM, he was crowned Most Popular Deejay of his station thrice in the bi- annual Golden Mike Awards organised by Media- Corp Radio. In 2000, after dabbling in TV for a few years on a part-time basis, he became the first deejay to be named one of the Top 10 Most Popular Male Artistes at the Star Awards. In that same year, he also won the Most Popular Newcomer award, in a crowded field which also included Qi Yuwu, Jeff Wang, Robin Leong and Vivian Lai, among others. He made it to the Top 10 list again in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2007. Not bad for someone who does not have photographs of himself until he went to secondary school because his family was too poor to afford a camera, and who grew up witnessing ‘bloody scenes’ of his father – a womaniser, gambler, alcoholic and bum rolled into one – beating up his mother.
He appears to be so well-liked that even colleagues who don’t know him personally have only good things to say about him. ‘He’s very filial,’ says a former radio producer who declined to be named. ‘Once, I overheard him telling another colleague how much he wanted to buy a two-door sports car, but opted for a regular one instead because it would be easier for his mother to travel in it.’ News anchor Zhang Haijie, 36, tells Life!: ‘He’s very nice. The other day, I was in a hurry to collect my clothes at the wardrobe department and he told me to go first although he was ahead of me in the queue.’
The dark side
THE man himself is keen to downplay this goody-two-shoes image he portrays, insisting that he is very ‘nan gao’ (Mandarin for difficult to handle). Once we settle down for the interview, he starts telling me stories – at times clearly enjoying the shock value – and revealing a darker side that not many people know about. In his 12 years in showbiz, he has been associated with just one piece of gossip: his highly publicised but short-lived romance with Hong Kong actress Nnadia Chan in 2000. They parted ways after nine months, with Koh citing difficulties in maintaining a long-distance relationship as the main reason. He has not been linked with anyone since then although he says he has dated casually on and off. While he is not exactly reluctant to discuss his love life, he appears much more eager to share other things, such as how he loves to pick fights with bus and taxi drivers. In his pleasant radio voice, he describes in a mix of English and Mandarin an incident about two years ago, when he had a run-in with a bus driver who cut into his lane abruptly. Furious, he stopped his car such that it blocked the way for the bus at the bus stop, got off and confronted the driver. He moved his vehicle only after the driver grudgingly passed over his personal details, with the passengers looking on throughout the little drama. He then wrote an angry complaint letter to the bus company, letting matters rest only after he was satisfied that the errant driver had been reprimanded and counselled. ‘He is on the road every day. I couldn’t allow him to endanger the lives of others with his careless driving,’ he says indignantly, his fingers rapping lightly on the table.
But wasn’t he worried about being recognised by the passengers, and what they would think of him? ‘I don’t know how many of them knew who I was, and I don’t really care. So what if they knew I am Dasmond Koh ?’ He is also someone who will ‘complain all the way’, like talking about a bad experience at a restaurant – there was a cockroach leg in his drink – in his radio show when complaining to the manager yielded nothing.
‘I have my own thoughts and I can be quite extreme,’ he says, looking suitably satisfied that he has made his point. ‘There are things that I will hold on to if I feel I’m right.’ This side of him is affirmed by his close friends, who all say he can be quite a rash and quick-tempered person at times. Says host Quan Yifeng, 34, who struck up a firm friendship with him after working on the popular talkshow series Shoot: ‘He really lives up to his nickname Rong Shao.’ The moniker, which means Young Master Rong (his Chinese name is Xu Zhenrong), was given to him by Zoe Tay early in his TV career. ‘He will voice his unhappiness and is usually the one who plays hero and stands up for our rights. He really takes good care of friends and will always be there for you.’
Yes 93.3FM deejay Cruz Teng, 29, describes Koh as a very likeable guy, a generous person who does not mind picking up the tab at meals. ‘People take to him easily although he doesn’t go all out to please them,’ he says. ‘However, he can be quite stubborn and will stick to his own opinions.’ But Koh is often ready to say sorry if he is in the wrong, says his godbrother, I’m Not Stupid actor Joshua Ang, 19. ‘He tends to nag, but not so much now as he knows I’m not listening to everything he says,’ he says.
IT IS a breeze chatting with Koh as he is in his element – talking to people is what he does best. A seasoned interviewer himself, he pre-empts many of my questions, helpfully saying things like ‘the next thing you want to know is who first started calling me Rong Shao, right?’ before I even ask. At one point, he even breaks into song – ‘This is my life story…’ – cheekily humming a line from Dick Lee’s Life Story. But the story of his life is hardly a song and dance. The youngest of seven children, he was born Koh Chin Eng on Feb 22, 1972. He gave himself the name Dasmond in primary school – a teacher told him it was spelt this way – and he had it included in his identity card when he was doing national service. His mother, who worked as a seamstress, was toiling away at the sewing machine in their tiny MacPherson flat when she was pregnant with him right up until she was due. Asked what his father did for a living, he replies impassively: ‘Chi he piao du.’ The Mandarin phrase literally means eating, drinking, womanising and gambling. Meeting my surprised look, he repeats, this time smiling faintly: ‘Really, I’m not joking, that was what he did.’ Apparently, his father was once a promising tailor, but all the son remembers of him was ‘that fella’ who returned home only when he ran out of money. Leaning back in his chair, Koh says nonchalantly: ‘I don’t have any feelings towards him. I don’t feel hatred and I’m not p***ed off. It’s like he is a totally separate issue, unrelated to me.’ Koh now lives with his mother, 70, and an elder sister in a semi-detached house in the Serangoon area – rented using the tidy sum he made when he sold a four-storey cluster house last year – while his estranged father lives ‘somewhere else’. With a grin, he stresses that he does not suffer from any childhood trauma and that he is ‘healthy’ because growing up, he was not aware of how different his family was compared to other people’s. ‘Life back then was very different. You didn’t have the Internet and you didn’t have mobile phones. You don’t talk to your classmates about what happened at home,’ he says, adding that he was very small when he saw his father hitting his mother, so details are fuzzy. ‘All I did was watch TV. And in my favourite Hong Kong drama serials, family members fought all the time too, just like mine.’
Academically, he did not shine as most of his time was devoted to representing his school at all sorts of Mandarin competitions, from storytelling to poetry recital. His wake-up call came when he failed his Secondary 3 examinations at Anglican High School. He was given the option of going on to Secondary 4 on condition that he continued competing for the school. He refused, and chose to repeat a year, subsequently ‘squeezing through’ his O levels. His performance was much better in Temasek Polytechnic, where he obtained a diploma in business with merit. Six months before completing national service – he was so keen he called up the Ministry of Defence and asked to be enlisted four months earlier – he applied for a job in radio although his plan was to become an air steward. ‘There was a radio recruitment drive. All I knew was I needed to make some money, and everything just fell into place,’ he says of his career choice. He gave himself a year to see if radio was his calling. As fate would have it, he did not need that long a time to prove his worth.
Newbie to rising star
BARELY two weeks after he began understudying a colleague at Yes 93.3FM, he was told by his boss he had to go solo on the late-night dedication show, Especially For You. Xu Youcai, then host of the highly rated programme, met with an accident while holidaying in Australia and was seriously injured. ‘Here I was, a total newbie, and I had to fill his shoes. It was make or break,’ recalls Koh , adding that he did not even have the chance to meet Xu before taking over the programme. Koh was a natural. Young listeners took to him almost immediately – he admits there were some hate mail initially – as he presented a very different style to Xu.
‘I was noisy, I laughed a lot and I said a lot of boliao things,’ he says, using the Hokkien word for irreverent.
Very soon, TV producers started noticing the rising star and he found himself appearing in variety shows and drama series, such as Soho@Work in 1999 and Love Match in 2000. From 1999 to 2002, as he juggled his radio and TV responsibilities, he says he survived on just three or four hours of sleep a day. ‘I didn’t have the chance to enjoy my ‘fame’ at all because I was working like a dog,’ he says. But he had time to correct his untidy teeth by wearing braces in 2000, a decision that helped to change how he looks. ‘I no longer have a ma lian (literally horse face in Mandarin),’ he quips, referring to his equine appearance in the past. In 2003, a year after becoming a full-time TV artiste, he played the main role of a male nurse in the touching drama, A Child’s Hope. Currently, he is hosting The Sheng Siong Show III and Superband II, which kicks off tonight. The avid diver also co-owns a dive shop with several friends. Despite being one of the most visible male hosts on TV, he insists he is not an A-list star, but just a ‘fair-to-do star’. ‘We all have our own pie and I have no interest in eating into someone else’s pie,’ he says. When it comes to mega shows, the unflappable Guo Liang will always be the first choice because of his stage presence and experience, acknowledges Koh . ‘I know where I stand. My strength is in hosting youth-oriented shows and I’m contented with what I can do. I’m earning what I’m happy with and doing a job that makes me happy. That’s enough for me.’
He flashes a smile, and the Mr Nice Guy in him surfaces again.
SuperBand 2! After all the rehearsals…
We had the 1st live show on Monday night!!!
And the team that was eliminated… B2 蒲公英.
More detail write up from BaGua, click here!
And ya, this is a shadow shot I took while doing the rehearsal… like God, got rays… hahaha! Peifen standing beside me… umm, she can act as Mary… :p
That’s it for now… signing off… missed my little bro jj quite a lot… been awhile I last seen him 🙁