Ex-radio DJs turn voice-talent scouts

SPEAK UP! Julius Chua and Preetha Damodaran, former broadcasters at radio station 91.3FM, set up Voices For Hire, an agency that provides emcees, hosts, entertainers and voice-over talents.


    Aug 05, 2013

    Ex-radio DJs turn voice-talent scouts

    THEY might have left the radio scene, but they are still scouting for fresh voices to represent the local voice-over and hosting industry.

    Former radio personalities Preetha Damodaran, 29, and Julius Chua, 24, set up a talent-management agency to give people a chance in an industry perpetually preoccupied with "who you know".

    Prior to their departure from radio, Ms Damo, under the moniker of Jane Doe, and Mr Chua had previously co-hosted the Requests, Texts and Shout-outs show on 91.3FM in 2010 for eight months before they were assigned to separate time slots.

    Ms Damo eventually left the radio business in 2011 because she felt that she "wasn't given room to grow" and wanted to pursue her passion for hosting in "other ways".

    In contrast, Mr Chua's departure from radio was nothing close to a personal decision.

    He was taken off-air in January along with radio DJ Rod Monteiro and The Married Men due to a prank gone wrong on the Kena Pluck segment of the morning show.

    Mr Chua commented that while losing his job was "quite a bitter pill to swallow", he is thoroughly grateful for the mentorship of Monteiro and The Married Men team.

    But the end to The Married Men did not stop Mr Chua, who subsequently reunited with former co-host Damo to form Voices For Hire, an agency that provides emcees, hosts and entertainers for events, as well as provides voice-over talents for radio and TV commercials, corporate videos and announcements.

    Its modest voice-recording studio, situated in Purvis Street, is also being rented out to those who wish to use it for recording purposes.

    Mr Chua said: "Forming a business together was a possibility we talked about."

    He added that they met often to discuss what they wanted to do outside of radio.

    Ms Damo said: "On my last placement on 91.3FM, I realised that my passion for radio was one of the many things I was excited to do, and I think that was the start of the brainchild that became Voices For Hire."

    With most TV and radio commercial voice-overs recorded by the same few individuals, "the brand or client is prevented from having a truly distinct profile", said Mr Chua, who added that Voices For Hire was established to provide an affordable alternative to the market.

    Ms Damo said: "I wanted to provide those who weren't as fortunate as I was to be on radio the opportunity to do something similar."

    Some of the agency's clients include the Health Promotion Board, FedEx and the Housing Board.

    Voices For Hire's talent-scouting process is nothing short of stringent.

    In its inaugural talent hunt last October, only five talents were recruited out of 50 who auditioned.

    The chosen talents were then sent for professional voice- and speech-training sessions with voice-coaching company Art Of Voice, under the tutelage of veterans Joe Augustin, Jessica Seet and Petrina Kow.

    Despite Mr Chua and Ms Damo's aspirations, radio will always be their "first love".

    Mr Chua said: "My (experiences) taught me the hard work that goes into most radio shows and I have a huge amount of respect for Rod and the gang for working the way they did."

    Likewise, Ms Damo said that her experience with 91.3FM was "one that (she'll) never forget".