What do an engineer, a marketeer and an MBA student have in common? This is not the start of a bad joke, rather a testament to the diversity of talent that broadcasts over the radio every morning to thousands of eager listeners. We’re talking of course about the Breakfast Show on RK FM99.7, with Aki Al-Mubarak, Tee Saab and George Tarabay, whose delightful antics and witty banter plaster a smile on our faces on the tedious drive to work during the week.
We bombarded the trio with a set of unconventional questions to give our readers a different spin on the radio dial and hopefully help them understand/appreciate the efforts that go into the morning show.
Would you say your celebrity has affected you?
Aki: Of course. It added more responsibility. People get associated with everything you say and begin bonding with you; you’re their morning caffeine so everything you say counts. I have to be precise and cautious about everything at the same time try to be me.
Tee: Never had and will never do.
George: Yes, only in the sense that I’m more aware that people know me more than I think they do. It’s a breach of privacy that you’ve invited and the beautiful part is, they become friends you never met.
If you weren’t on the radio, where would you be?
Aki: I started with TV as a host and I still host TV shows, so that and more art work.
Tee: I’d be on television because that’s my passion.
George: Mastering martial arts with Mr. Miyagi or using my home studio as a pretend radio station because I cannot imagine my life without radio. It’s always been my #1 media as it embodies the magic of the voice alone and strips you away from any visual aid to get away from the shortage in thinking process.
What are your thoughts early in the morning?
Aki: Several things, how to start my show in terms of topics and how to present them. The biggest challenge is the playlist, people think creating a playlist is easy, it’s not! Starting with good music has a huge impact on whether people will keep tuning in or not. Think of it as a breakfast meal, if it contained some ingredients that you don’t like you won’t eat it all, it’s the same with music maybe one song will ruin the mood and make some listeners tune off.
Tee: The flow of the show, what we’ll discuss and monitoring the ads.
George: How lucky I am to be doing what I’ve always wanted since I was 19. Radio has and always will be my one true love (after my wife, hazelnut chocolate spread… bread… and film making.)
What is your worst on-air slip up?
Aki: That happens a lot! I can’t think of one only! I don’t take them seriously. We laugh at them most of the time. It’s part of being human. I do get embarrassed though when I mispronounce listeners’ names!
Tee: Several words that I stutter on but they turn out funny.
George: When my brain goes: “ok, no more words. So, what you gonna say now?” I literally shutdown trying to figure out what I was saying and why I just forgot it so I dive into an analysis process that further prolongs the awkward silence and now I’m aware of that silence too. It’s a self-feeding cycle.
Who was your favorite on-air guest?
Aki: Honestly I cannot pick one, we had many great people from different backgrounds and numerous fields. You get the sense of who listeners love as well, we had many guests where people would call and ask to get their contact info.
Tee: Every guest has their special presence and character but I loved hosting celebrity chefs Jenny Morris and Reza Mahammad.
George: We had many guests it’s unfair to try and single one out. They’re all special and contributed plenty of expertise. Personally, I enjoy having bands as they pump life into the studio that people can feel through their radios.
What is your best memory?
Aki: How I started! I would never, ever in my life forget my first day on air! I was literally out of breath and couldn’t speak due to how nervous I was. My hands were shaking like there was no tomorrow, thinking of how many people are listening just made me go crazy. It’s funny that never happened on my TV shows.
Tee: All of them.
George: When people text us saying they laughed at something I said, it means a lot because it feels awesome reaching people through the show. It mesmerizes me how 3 people talking to each other can reach this vast majority of the population. I know the science behind it, but it still baffles me.
They say two’s company and three’s a crowd, do you feel that is true?
Aki: Actually three’s a party. It’s vital to have more than two at the studio or on the show. It’s more fun, energetic and more diverse especially when you talk about anything you start to have more points of view, more arguments and more fun, I like it.
Tee: No, three’s a team! Especially us!
George: All great stuff come in 3’s: a triple burger, a triple pointer. I love being on the show with my colleagues and I can’t imagine it without them. Our differences complete each other and that’s what makes the mix successful.
What question do you wish people would stop asking?
Aki: Are you Kuwaiti? (Laughs) I don’t mind when they ask me, it’s the question I’m asked the most. I love interacting with my audience, on social media I answer all questions, we are here because of them and they deserve our time and attention.
Tee: Do you really wake up at 5:00am every day?
George: What does the studio look like? Are you happy doing radio every morning?
Did you have any eye-opening experiences on the radio?
Aki: Of course! The fact that you’re part of people’s lives changes a lot in you. I’m much happier now, the idea of going every day to put a smile on people’s faces made me realize I should be happy too, and more grateful for what I have and what I’m doing.
Tee: It’s tough working on the radio as people only hear your voice, you can’t make mistakes you must be extra cautious, especially with what you say. People must know your personality through your voice and sometimes that’s challenging.
George: It taught me that people sometimes might be shocked when they meet us, and that is just marvellous to me. People unconsciously associate looks and characters to us based solely on our voices. They project similarities onto us, and then when they meet us, it’s completely shattered and that shocks them. We get to play with it and have fun ourselves.
If the camera adds 10 pounds, what does the mic do?
Aki: 10 pounds of responsibility! (Laughs) It’s fun but you have to be focused and sharp for 2hrs counting parts and splits of seconds because they do count and affect many things like if you talked too much or too little, you take everything into consideration. Radio is a very straightforward media, you use one tool of communication which is your voice, so people will notice mistakes immediately and can love or hate you for that.
Tee: Adding pounds to me is no problem but being behind the mic is a huge responsibility because some days I’m pretty sure of what to say and all of a sudden I just go blank! The mic is scary sometimes, but funny scary.
George: The mic ads to your personality. Behind that mic, it doesn’t matter who we are (Bane reference) what matters is what we say. We’re no longer pretty, ugly, fat, slim, tall, short etc. That’s something that really keeps you on your toes.