Thursday, June 1, 2017

BFM has some way to improve

I woke up this morning listening to my favorite radio station over the BFM app as I am in Penang today and there is no airwaves coverage for 89.9 unless I go through the digital route.

In today's interview for the Breakfast Grille which usually airs for 30 minutes over 8.00 to 8.30am slot, they were interviewing a VP of Nokia. I thought they have a very good organization representative with good strong potential line of questions. I was excited until I hear the interviewer - a new guy to BFM, Tan Chung Han - less than 1 year I presume.

Besides not having the right interviewer mindset, his line as well as flow of questioning is not really strong.

If I am an interviewer, I would be very interested to know where did Nokia go wrong and how they see the future of smartphones is going to be. What makes them making a comeback and how they are trying to change the landscape.

I would want to understand the landscape better. Where is Nokia's positioning.

There is no problem on Tan Chung Han's knowledge as perhaps he had done homework before the interview.

I seriously felt that the opportunity given is not being used to the best possible way. BFM is the only financial channel in town and I fully support it. Yet, there are many ways to improve. To those guys Julian and Tan Chung Han - try looking at how Bernie Lo, Andrew Ross Sorkin pose and build their questions. Bernie especially can be critical but he puts the line of questions well. There are many more.

We as listeners can hope for better informative interviews from these opportunities. I really wish if only Umapagan Ampikaipagan is interested in economics and finance.


Anonymous said...

Hi Felicity,

Han here from BFM 89.9's 'Morning Run'. Thank you for taking the time to engage with our content. Allow me to share some thoughts in response to your blog, 'BFM has some way to improve'.

Now, certainly, you have every right to interpret the outcome of the interview as you see fit. My goal here is to explain the rationale for the Grille with HMD global.

1) Firstly, safe to say, BFM is constantly looking to improve the quality of our product. In that context, I agree with perhaps the broader spirit of the blog title.

2) As for the Grille with Nokia (HMD Global), I chose to have a forward-looking editorial stance.

This was due to the simple reason that, during the course of my research, I found that Nokia's prior failings (or as you put it, "... where did Nokia go wrong") had been covered ad nauseum.

Should I have assumed the "interviewer mindset" of finding out "where did Nokia go wrong", I believe this would have been a dated approach; as evidenced by articles from the BBC (2013), New Yorker (2013), Wired (2012), The Verge (2014) and many more.

In short, there is a difference in asking "Why did Nokia fail"? As opposed to asking "How will HMD Global succeed"? I decided to focus instead on HMD Global's future, which is certainly fraught with challenges.

3) I am perplexed by the lines, "What makes them making a comeback and how they are trying to change the landscape. I would want to understand the landscape better. Where is Nokia's positioning."

I made every effort to make that theme front and centre for the Grille. To prove the point, I've taken the liberty of listing below the questions asked at specific time marks in the podcast:

1:35 - Nokia's strategy/positioning against Apple, Samsung, Huawei, etc.
2:20 - How important is the 'spec race' to Nokia?
4:00 - How does Nokia intend to succeed where Microsoft failed?
5:06 - Are 'feature phones' still relevant? Is the Nokia 3310 a 'gimmick'? 2G, really?
8:20 - What's Nokia's edge now? Price point?
8:48 - Is Nokia at risk of overestimating their brand strength in 2017? Who's their target demographic and how will Nokia reach them?
10:03 - HMD Global's reinvestment strategy
12:17 - Geographical strategy: how important is Malaysia in the APAC context?
13:06 - How can Nokia avoid repeating past failures, given that HMD Global comprises many former Nokia staff?
14:06 - How does Nokia avoid the same mistakes?
14:31 - What lessons have you learnt from Nokia's past failures?
16:00 - Is Nokia late to an already saturated market?
16:22 - Does HMD Global's backer (a PE firm) have enough in their war chest to mount a sustained challenge against other global smartphone makers?

I'm not saying it was a perfect interview. I'm highlighting the fact there was a conscious effort to frame this conversation.

Perhaps I fell short, and for that I apologise.
Perhaps the answers that you were anticipating were not forthcoming.
Perhaps those reading this can check out the podcast at

4) As to whether "Umapagan Ampikaipagan is interested in economics and finance.", the man will have to speak for himself. However, I would certainly welcome Uma's contributions more often to the Morning Run haha.

Thanks again for your feedback.

felicity said...

Thanks a lot, Han. I get your point and thank you for bringing this into clearer perspective. You certainly do not need to be apologetic. I also get it that "The Grille" is supposed to be hard interviews "most of the times" similar to the popular "Hard Talk" as can be seen through BBC.

Perhaps it is me as I am the type whom would prefer a friendly interview rather than a hard interview as I sometimes felt that it could get more out from the interviewees. I have to admit I was not fond of the line of questioning, but it is individual preferences.

I certainly appreciate the effort as these are not easy.

panaceaasia said...


Would you want Felicity on your show?

She will definitely be interesting.