Jamaica dela Cruz carves out a career in Asian Pop

IT’S hard for an international student to get a job in Australia you say? Find out how Jamaica dela Cruz landed the coveted role as radio host of SBS PopAsia.

SBS PopAsia is a small slice of heaven for J-pop, K-pop, M-pop and every other kind of Asian pop fan. The digital radio station is the only station in Australia that plays music exclusively by Asian artistes like Super Junior, SNSD, 2NE1 and Jay Chou.

And at the helm of the station, bubbly host Jamaica Dela Cruz says she never gets sick of listening to the same style of music every day, seven days a week.

“I have been a fan of the Asian pop music for the longest time, so I kind of consider this job a real dream come true!” she says.

Jamaica’s story is the sort of thing most international students could only wish for. Born in the Philippines, Jamaica came to Australia to study mass communications and has an MBA in arts and entertainment management.

But her enviable job as a radio presenter didn’t just fall into her lap.

Instead, Jamaica says it was through work experience in both radio and television that she got her first big break.

“I was presenting in the Philippines even before I became an international student in Australia,” she says.

“Then I got a part-time gig with SBS Radio’s Filipino program.”

Luckily, the gig transitioned into a full-time job when SBS announced it would be launching PopAsia. Jamaica jumped at the chance and she’s now been hosting the show for more than a year now.

If you’ve ever wondered what goes into making a radio program, Jamaica can attest there’s a lot of hard work. Usually, she’ll put in a few hours of preparation behind the scenes before going live.

“I usually start the morning going through all the Asian pop blogs for the latest news and clips, deciding which ones will feature on the day’s show,” she says.

“Then I coordinate with the music programmer to choose the playlist based on the selected hot topics, and then I script the whole show around the news, music and other segments.”

There is one part of her job that Jamaica relishes more than the rest though, and that’s interviewing celebrities and getting completely star-struck.

Some of the biggest names she’s crossed paths with include Eason Chan from Hong Kong, Lollipop F from Taiwan, iMe from China, the voice of Pikachu from Japan, IZ from Malaysia and Thanh Bui from Vietnam.

“My favourite was the Korean boyband SHINee. The whole experience was just unreal, even if the questions were just normal.”

But as the official voice of PopAsia, Jamaica reveals it’s not all fun and games, especially with deadlines and the stress that comes with being a grown-up.

When it comes to carving out a career, she has one piece of advice for all aspiring radio presenters – start now.

“Whatever it is that you think you’re in to, create your own opportunities by taking that extra class, practising in front of the microphone or camera by yourself or volunteering for work experience or community radio. With things like YouTube, Facebook and iPhones, it’s possible for anyone to broadcast themselves, so there’s no reason not to start.”

SBS PopAsia broadcasts 24/7 all over Melbourne on digital radio. You can also listen to the station on the PopAsia app or on the SBS website. For an extra fix of Asian tunes, don’t miss the SBS PopAsia TV video show on SBS 1, every Sunday from 8.30 a.m.

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