He says his announcement “came in like a wrecking ball”.
Popular HOT FM DJ Boy Thunder (real name: Gerald Koh) announced Wednesday that he would be leaving the station after seven years there.
On his last day this past Friday, his co-hosts Adam Piperdy and Joshua Simon had to move fans — who had come by to the studio to say thanks — to another studio so that Gerald was comfortable enough to say his farewell speech. He broke down during the speech, fighting back tears as he thanked record labels and industry figures who have supported him throughout his career.
Speaking to Popspoken over the phone Saturday, Gerald says leaving radio has sunk in considerably but he won’t know how it really feels until Monday hits.
“It was the partnership I list with Adam (Piperdy) — we were very close. When Adam and Joshua (Simon) continue the show on Monday, I will think to myself “What am I going to do now?”. This was seven years of my life. Those thoughts will definitely come by,” said Gerald.
Now turning 29, Gerald gave up school to pursue a career in radio. Part of the reason why he gave his career up was to go back and finish his studies. Another reason he shared with Popspoken for leaving was the decision to spend more time with his family and possibly have a new one with fiance Zhixin.
“The decision made wasn’t in haste; it was two months back in Christmas. I asked this question to myself: Do I love my family? It’s a rhetorical question.”
“For the past 7 years, I have been giving my job priority. Very soon, I’ll be having my own HDB flat & possibly starting my own family. Do I want to start my family and want to study? I will see what the future has for me, but I’ll just make sure family comes first,” said Gerald.
Speaking of family, Gerald says he met his fiance when she won Adam Lambert autographed posters via his radio show’s contest. He first saw her at the airport while filming Adam Lambert’s arrival in Singapore; she loudly asked who was he when the video was being filmed. After a mix-up in delivering the autographed posters on time, Gerald invited Zhixin down to the Singapore Press Holdings reception and passed the posters himself to her. Gerald concluded that story with the classic “The rest is history”.
To say Gerald is a gamechanger would be an understatement. His commitment and dedication to his fans shows in the various projects he coordinated with record labels and companies to bring listeners closer to the stars. Quoting inspirations such as Jean Danker and Rod Monteiro, he endeavoured to break that barrier of the radio DJ being a celebrity more than a bridge between listeners and entertainers.
The sea change in Gerald’s popularity began when he encountered the popular UK band One Direction in early 2011. Back then, the band was only signed to Sony Music’s UK imprint and had not established a fandom in Singapore yet. After calling Sony Music’s Singapore imprint and faced with replies of personnel there not knowing who the band was, he tested the market by placing 1D’s “What Makes You Beautiful” in the nightly HOT 30 countdown show.
Within three days, the song jumped from the bottom of the charts to among the top 5.
“Three weeks later, Sony Music Singapore called me and said that they just signed the band and wanted to bring me to Sydney to speak to them. I declined and asked if I could bring two of my listeners to Sydney instead to meet them instead.”
“They asked me to give them a campaign proposal in three weeks. I managed to bring in sponsors including Nando’s. Because of that, my two listeners became the first Asians to meet the band. It was monumental. Because of this, my bosses believed in what I can do,” explained Gerald.
Going on air was not without its challenges though. After replacing The Married Men’s morning slot — the radio station received backlash when it booted the popular duo –, many had doubts as to Gerald’s appeal and whether he was the right fit for the morning timebelt. His fiance even wrote about it on her blog, calling the stress from that incident “indescribable”.
“If you look at STOMP, there will people who try to be smarter than what the article is. I took the morning show with a big heart. The team of three (Gerald, Adam & Joshua) became very close friends and we had so much fun — we went outside to do events and connected through listeners using social media. We did a good job,” said Gerald.
And a good job, he definitely did — going by tweets that DJ Dee Kosh and former DJ Divian Nair sent him after the announcement was made. Gerald believes there is a sense of camaraderie between DJs from competing radio stations.
“I always believe in this: in terms of competition, the stations are competing. Outside of our jobs, we are all friends. We go to functions and movie premieres and see each other — I’ve been to London with Divian to meet The Wanted two years ago. When he gave up his place in 987 last week, I tweeted him as well. There isn’t any anymosity among DJs,” Gerald explained.
No matter where Gerald’s future might be, he is grateful for all the support he has gotten during his tenure on air.
“I believe nobody who knows me is scared to come up and take a photo. That is the reason why people are more closer to me and have given me so much love,” he said.
Photo: Boy Thunder/Facebook
P.S. The reason why Gerald dropped the name Boy Thunder was because “if I tweet something, I don’t want my past station to be responsible for what I say. I want to be responsible for myself.”