Time Out with Liz – Jenny Malai Ali


Photo by Rino Putama & Afiff Razali

Liz: We hear your voice everywhere we go! We hear it (on the plane) when we arrive in Brunei, and we hear it when we leave. What is it like, being one of Brunei’s most prominent Radio DJs?

Jenny: I think radio is different to what we are doing right now (in a live interview) because I’m in a vacuum and I’m not interacting (with audiences directly), therefore I’d be in complete control, which probably represents my personality; I like to be in control of the situation.

On the radio, (unless I give you the permission) you can’t really talk back to me or tell me that I’m not making sense, it is really one way communication.

Liz: I remember having this conversation with you over lunch and I was shocked by the fact that you said you weren’t an extrovert. Please help us to make sense of this.

Jenny: I’m not as extroverted as most people may think. Radio seems to fit into that whole psychology. Radio personalities are often projected as people who are very outgoing but it’s really not. You’re by yourself all the time, I think you will find a lot of DJs, Fakhrul included, are very good at being alone and if there’s a choice to go to a big social event or be alone, I think a lot of us would choose to be alone!

I don’t think being an introvert means you’re shy with people. However, certain people may expect me to be bubbly and charismatic (because of what I do); but charisma can run out! Once I finish my noon show at 2pm, I’m all out of charisma, you can’t expect me to be funny, because it’s really not going to happen.

Liz: Tell us about a typical day in your life.

Jenny: I’m a real morning person, the earlier, the better. I like to get up at 4.45 am or 5am. I’ve got two children, a five year old and a three year old – and once they wake up, I have no free time and all parents know that.

So the early hours are my only downtime. I love watching the sun come up, opening the windows and feeling the air, I love my coffee. I don’t watch tv. I’ll do, hopefully, yoga, or just maybe do nothing and then somebody will just come down and want help and then you know it’s game over.

Then we’d have breakfast and I’m lucky if I don’t have to be anywhere by eight o’clock, so with the children at school then I have till ten before I have to do my show. Following that, it would be meetings, or rehearsals for events or briefings or something different. My schedule is varied. I might have a four o’clock show, four radio shows, it might be three interviews in the course of the day.

Liz: How do you feel at the end of the day?

Jenny: Nine o’clock at night is usually the end of the day for most of us but with children, sleep is a luxury. So to get into my pyjamas and read a book by nine is really nice.

Liz: Can you elaborate more about your work life?

Jenny: Sometimes I have to meet so many different groups of people all day, you kind of have to merge yourself to the company’s personality that you are working for. Whether it’s Shell or Coffee Bean, you become one with them and then you go back to your normal self.

Liz: What kind of things help you to maintain your energy level and keep looking so beautiful?

Jenny: I really like taking walks and enjoying the fresh air. I like my toiletries and I like to cook too.

Liz: What advice would you give to aspiring hosts who wish to do your type of job?

Jenny: I think that in this field, you just have to be real. Don’t put on a fake accent, don’t pretend to be something you’re not because it will all just fall apart in minutes. Audiences are not stupid so don’t think (for a minute) that they can’t see right through you. Also, don’t try to be too dangerous because it may make some people uncomfortable. And don’t make it all about you, ever! It’s great if you are in charge of your own radio station but at the end of the day though, you are delivering a message and I feel very strongly about that. You represent something bigger than you. Also be disciplined and charge for your services correctly. Have a value for your services, whether you are an MC or singing, because nobody else will.

This article was published in the Jan-Mar 2014 issue of Inspire Magazine. Download it here!

liz2Time Out with Liz is a monthly live event hosted by Elizabeth Sim with inspiring personalities in Brunei. The program is a light hearted conversation with them about their cool projects, different perspectives and stories. You can find out more this by emailing Liz on timeoutwithliz@gmail.com or calling 882 6013.