Taipei Times: You were an economics professor before, and have become a professor again after serving in various government positions — so why would you be interested in producing radio shows?
Chen Shih-meng (陳師孟): I got the chance to meet the owner of Happy Radio, Huang (黃), through [Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Tainan City Councilor] Wang Ting-yu (王定宇), and was told that he was considering leasing out his station to KMT lawmakers. I thought it was an obvious move by the KMT to gain control of the media after gaining control of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the government, and I quickly told Huang that I would rent the station instead.
So, after returning from the US, I talked with Huang. At first he wanted to rent his radio station for NT$6.5 million [US$198,000] a month, which was way above what we could afford. After some more talks, he agreed to give us five hours a day for NT$2 million.
TT: Where will the money come from? With the recession, how do you plan to run the station?
Chen: Yes, the economy is bad, but when we first made our plan in September, the recession wasn’t as bad.
But we’ve already made up our mind — we knew full well that this would not be a profitable investment and we calculated that we could afford more than NT$30 million a month in costs. We expect a loss of NT$3 million to NT$4 million a year for the first two years.
After we had the plan, we started talking to some of our friends. We had a goal of obtaining NT$50 million, and we’ve already received NT$25 million. It wasn’t easy to get this much money in just a month-and-a-half.
Other than the NT$2 million a month in rent, we have to pay for salaries, equipment and other stuff. Right now, we have NT$700,000 from commercials, but the burden is still quite heavy.
Thus we can’t really afford to hire too many people, but we have a lot of volunteers.
TT: What will be the objective of your radio programs?
Chen: We should understand what is on the minds of those who did not vote for [President] Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) on March 22, and stay connected with these people.
I am one of those people, I’ve been frustrated since March and wanted to do something for Taiwan, but I didn’t know how. In elections in the past, [DPP] candidates would invite us Mainlanders to endorse them, but the campaign headquarters did not get in touch with me before the [presidential] election this time. We had to ask to be on the stage ourselves, and we got just five minutes. That didn’t feel good and I believe voters had some thoughts on that as well.
There is probably a need for a new motivation for the people to get rid of this feeling of being pushed back, and we actually appreciate the contribution they made a lot.
There was a Mr Chen who brought NT$50,000 to us for donation. Why did he do that?
I’d received a letter from another Mr Chen who was a retired post office employee who enclosed NT$2,000 in his letter. He said that he wasn’t a public servant, and did not benefit from the 18 percent public-servant special interest rate, so he could only afford NT$2,000, and asked us to “forgive” him.
I read the letter to the public and stressed that this is the kind of support — regardless of the amount — that gives us encouragement. His brother heard [it on the radio] and brought NT$50,000 today. I think there are a lot of people like him in society. They know that we’re not rich so they support us. Hence, we know that we’ll lose some money, but we won’t lose everything.