987 deejays Sonia Chew and Joakim Gomez are no strangers to hosting live shows, but when you are broadcasting from home, things don’t always go as planned. Not that the pair didn’t see it coming. In fact, Joakim warned at the start of live online show Sofa So Good on Apr 19 that “anything can happen.”
Nothing could prepare them for a “broken” circuit breaker during the show, though. Yes, there was a blackout, albeit a very brief one.
“Halfway through the first episode, the lights at Kevin Lester’s [aka TheLionCityBoy] house were cut off and during rehearsals, Benjamin Kheng’s mic kena static! You never know what to expect [during the show] and that makes it fun as well,” Joakim tells 8days.sg over the phone. The singers were guests on Sofa So Good, one of the programmes under Mediacorp’s #StayHomeWithMe initiative to keep Singaporeans entertained during the COVID-19 circuit breaker period. Featuring live performances, the unscripted show is sort of like a visual version of Sonia and Joakim’s weekday radio show, except everyone is in the comfort of their own homes.
Well, things could be a lot worse, such as the wifi failing, says Joakim. But let’s not go there. The last thing we want to do is jinx the series’ third and last episode, which broadcasts live this Saturday (May 2) at 10pm on 987’s Facebook page and meWATCH. Plus, we hear Nathan Hartono, Jasmine Sokko and Aisyah Aziz will be coming on as guests, so it’s definitely one to watch.
With events and performances cancelled, Sonia and Joakim have been turning their efforts online to entertain audiences.
“It's an interesting time because it pushes us to create content that we may not usually have done so much of in the past. We are busier than ever, trying to do these live streaming sessions and even with Sofa So Good, the episode had more than 30,000 views over the weekend, which was pretty insane and I think that it's a good sign. The COVID-19 situation has kind of opened our eyes that were capable of a lot more together as a team, which is kind of cool,” says Sonia.
No easy feat considering the show was put together “very quickly”, and the radio jocks and guests had to set everything up at home themselves. In fact, Sonia and Joakim enjoy hosting the show so much, they hope it will be extended.
Another area in which their work has changed is their duties, which now includes a whole lot of cleaning, something they used to take for granted.
“Before we leave, we will do our part to clean the entire studio. We wipe down the keyboards, the mouse, tables, mics and consoles, to make sure that everything's clean for the next show. These are habits which I feel should be enforced with or without COVID-19 to be honest,” says Joakim, adding that it was something they weren’t so conscientious of in the past.
Despite the added workload, the pair are thankful radio is an essential service and that they still get to come in to work to do their thang.
“I've always appreciated the six or eight hours I spend in the office. I really love coming here; it's an escape from reality by talking about reality on national radio and I love it even with the whole COVID-19 pandemic,” says Joakim, adding it’s the only thing he looks forward to on a weekday.
Adds Sonia, “A lot of people may not be used to not having structured lives like suddenly not having to wake up at a certain time to go to the office or not doing routine things, so I think us being able to go into the studio and to continuously entertain people in the process and also making people laugh really brings us a lot of joy.”
8 DAYS: You are doing more online work now. What are some of the challenges that you face doing shows via video chat?
JOAKIM GOMEZ: If you were to speaking to guests live in the studio, the answers and everything are almost instantaneous. But for live stream, you got to pay attention to things like the lag time to make sure the sound sounds good, so thankfully, like our audio engineer is able to help us make sure everything sounds good before we go live on air.
Is it tougher to still be funny during these times anxious and stressful times?
J: No, I think we’re still pretty much the same people. You can still listen to Sonia doing all the puns and jokes on me live on national radio. To be honest, I still laugh out loud, I still am doing things the way I do, but of course while maintaining a safe distance. And it's hard not to laugh out loud with Sonia, the jokes that she comes up with on the fly, just amazing.
Is either of you OCD or paranoid about the coronavirus?
SONIA CHEW: No, not really, but I did have a dream the other day, it was almost like a nightmare. I dreamt that I kena COVID-19 man! I woke up and I was like… in cold sweat (chuckles).
J: I'm actually okay, but it's my mum. The number of times she’s cleaned the entire house, I think we have the cleanest house in the whole of Singapore. My mum is the kind of mum who will watch the news and when she sees the numbers going up, she will get paranoid. She also makes sure that I'm wearing my mask. Whenever I come home from my run, she'll be like “go wash your hands now!”
How do you stay sane during these crazy times?
J: Even before COVID-19, I liked going for runs alone. I like to run to beaches and unwind so thankfully they haven't taken that out of the list yet, so I feel that I’m made for this whole COVID-19 pandemic period. But, of course, the only habit now that I have to inculcate is making sure I mask up right after my run. That still feels a bit foreign to me, but it just takes a while to get used to it.
S: If you know me, I am actually the kind of person who can’t really sit still, and I need to do something every day. Before COVID-19, my schedule was crazy. It was always back-to-back, and I love the adrenaline that comes with having a packed schedule so this was a bit of a change. But it was good in a way, because I actually have started to schedule my days in a way where I allocate stuff that I want to do that I haven't gotten the opportunity to do before, things like picking up cooking that you see me doing a lot right now. I am also working on some other projects. Still connecting with clients and doing some digital work, which is great. Thank God for digital right now, really, we never expected this to happen.
Do you find that you have a lot of time on your hands now because you can't go out?
S: Not really. The funny thing is I thought that I would have a lot of time on my hands but then, like I said, I like to pack my schedule, so I wake up very early and I start doing things back-to-back, and then I make lunch. After that, I prep for dinner and before you know it I have to leave for the office. Time kind of flies when you have a routine.
How have your lifestyles changed since COVID-19?
S: I'm exercising a bit more, which is a nice change (laughs). You know, we always complain that we don't have enough time back then when we’re busy or the standard answer is always I have no time, or we’re so tired after work we’d rather go and grab a drink. So now that we have nowhere to go and no parties get to, the only things we can do at home would be to exercise and drink on your own lah.
J: Or drink on Zoom or have a house party with your friends. But then again, I really appreciate the time that's given to us now to really spend time at home, rest and recharge, because I think once life goes back to normal, we might start craving the stay home thing again.
S: Oh honey, I am gonna hit up Zouk the moment this is over!
What advice do you have for listeners on how to stay positive?
J: I would say try your best to keep sane. If you want, listen to us on radio, but you have to find the small things in life that make you happy because this is really a test of our character, a test of our times here in this world. Not to sound clichéd but without the lows, there can never be the highs. We are in a bit of a low right now, but once the pandemic ends, once you're able to go back to normalcy in life, may we never ever take things for granted. It's very rare people get given a second chance so hopefully when we do get given a second chance, we take this chance to live our lives to the fullest.