[INTERVIEW] Wake up, surf atop Kat Bang's Morning Wave in Busan
△ Katherine Bang is the long-time host of BeFM Radio's "Morning Wave in Busan." (Source: Busan English Broadcasting)
BeFM radio, Busan's only radio station that broadcasts in English, Chinese and Vietnamese, is one of the city's most useful resources for foreigners. The station, which provides news, information, entertainment and music, is home to many programs throughout the day and night, but one show in particular is the one to wake up to. "Morning Wave in Busan," hosted by Katherine Bang, makes sure that listeners start their day off right.
Q.Greetings! Please tell us about yourself and your program!
A. Hi! I'm Katherine Bang. I'm the host of "Morning Wave in Busan," and I've been helming the show for the past seven years or so. I'm Korean-American and proud to call myself a Busanite! Our show is one of the main anchor programs of BeFM and balances news and current affairs in an entertaining way. We definitely don't want the content to be boring or difficult for our listeners.
I'm especially proud of the daily Special Interview segment, because we cover the hottest, most intriguing topics with world-renowned experts. Our staff of writers and our producer work around the clock to book our esteemed guests, and they have so much to say.
But I have to say the best thing about the show is the interaction with the listeners. They send in text messages every day to comment on a topic, show support, joke around and ask questions. That shows me that we are making a difference and having an impact on listeners, and it's very fulfilling. That's what keeps me going every season.
What's your connection with Busan?
Not many people know, but I was actually born here! I immigrated to California when I was three years old. I grew up there, was educated there, and I spent the vast bulk of my life there. But, I came to Busan 12 years ago for a one-year vacation, and I never left!
I think Busan has an amazing mixture of rich history, old-school charm and cutting-edge modernity. I enjoy the allure of a slower-paced life (compared to Los Angeles or Seoul) with all the conveniences of modern city living. And there are so many neighborhoods and areas; the nooks and crannies of Busan that I have yet to discover.
What is BeFM all about?
There are 78,000 foreign nationals living in Busan alone, and the number of foreign residents is increasing every year.
Busan was selected as an International Tourism City this year and is preparing to become a gateway city to Eurasia. There will probably be more foreigners coming to live in Busan, but there aren't many channels for Busan citizens and foreign residents to communicate with. That's what I think BeFM is here for: to bridge that gap.
I'm Korean-American, and there are people from all over the world on air at BeFM. Canada, the UK, Niger, New Zealand, Iran and more are represented through us. I think the biggest attraction is that our listeners can meet people from around the globe through BeFM and hear their stories.
What is the best thing BeFM has done this year?
I would definitely say how BeFM handled COVID-19. COVID-19 has affected everything we do, especially at BeFM. Getting COVID-19 news is a huge obstacle for foreign residents who are not fluent in Korean. So, BeFM did its best to keep foreign nationals and residents informed of the latest COVID-related news and in-formation.
My show in particular has featured interviews with infectious disease experts from here and other countries who expressed their views on the pandemic and the post-COVID world. We've included all the information we've been able to through the government, so that foreign residents aren't left out of the loop. It's been a very busy and difficult year for everyone, but at the same time, I think it's been a rewarding one.
What's in store for BeFM next year?
Next year marks the 12th anniversary of BeFM opening its doors to Busan and the world, and we're going to continue to cater to the needs and desires of Busan's citizens through more diverse digital content. We're also going to make communication with listeners a priority and make BeFM an international radio station that matches the city's global status.
Do you have any tips for BeFM newbies?
All it takes to find out everything you need to know about Busan is tuning in to BeFM radio at 90.5 (103.3 in Gijang, Jeonggwan and Noksan), using our smartphone app ("Busan e-FM") or by logging onto our website at befm.or.kr. Have a listen, message us, and you may even win a prize!