Separate but happy together on air: How DJs co-host radio show amid Covid-19

SINGAPORE – When you listen to DJs talk on the radio, you probably have a pretty clear idea of what’s going on.

You kind of know how we look and maybe what our studio is like. You imagine we’re all there having a great time together, like it’s a little party.

Well, sorry to burst your bubble, but if you’ve been listening to our show over the past week, what you’ve heard has been a complete illusion.

While morning show co-host Divian is still in the Kiss92 studio, Jason Johnson and I have been working from home. Each in our separate homes, thank heavens.

Both my daughter and Jason’s son recently returned from overseas trips, which means that they have to stay home for two weeks, which means that we have to stay home for two weeks. Thanks to the miracles of modern technology I can broadcast live from my home, so we are able to continue doing our jobs.

I always thought working from home would be a dream come true. Let me tell you, I wasn’t wrong.

As an extrovert, you would think it would be hell for me, but the great thing is that I now have the time and energy to be an extrovert all over my family. It’s come to the point that my two daughters, aged 14 and 24, are hiding in their rooms from me, but they have to come out to eat eventually. Mum always wins.

Normally, after work, I’m burnt out and just want to sit in front of the TV, but now my family gets the best of me. I’m also cooking more, for better or for worse. You’d have to ask them.

There’s been talk of a rise in divorce rates because couples are forced to spend more time together, but it’s honestly brought me and my husband, Wez, closer.

It’s also brought Jason and Divian closer to my husband – every morning when we’re teleconferencing they see him walking around shirtless.

It’s become a thing. I think he does it on purpose.

As for the show itself, it’s still fantastic. Judging from all the comments, no one could tell the difference.

Honestly, even when we’re all together in the studio, putting a show like this together is really about creating an illusion. Our job is to sound peppy starting from 6am when we’d all rather be in bed.

Believe me, it’s an illusion. The famous British DJ Chris Evans used to do his show from his bed and no one noticed or cared.

Like a lot of people at a lot of companies, our teleconferencing experience has been pretty effective. We have specialised radio equipment to capture our audio, but we use Zoom or Google Hangouts so that we can see each other when we’re doing our show.

Sometimes I have to remind myself not to scratch my armpit on camera, but aside from that, it’s all good. And one big positive is that Jason can’t be as disruptive as he normally is.

I think the key is that we’re all separate together. When two are together and one is apart, like Divian was a few weeks ago, when he had to broadcast from separate facilities after travelling, it can be tough being the odd man out. What we’re learning with this new reality is that social distancing isn’t so bad when everyone is doing it.

When things go back to normal, I hope we will have all learnt to be more flexible.

You want to work from home? Fine. You want to adjust your working hours? Fine. You want to do your radio show from a garden in the south of France? Fine. (Here’s hoping.)

The real illusion has always been that the world has to work in a certain way. It doesn’t.

That’s why, when you hear us in the morning, we can still make you smile. That happiness you’re feeling is definitely not an illusion.

• Maddy Barber is a radio presenter, entrepreneur and former actress. She is currently a co-presenter of Maddy, Jason & Divian In the Morning, weekdays from 6 to 10am on Kiss 92FM.

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