Gold 905 gives prize to Malay speaker after rebuke from ‘80s singer

At left, Spandau Ballet frontman Tony Hadley at the height of his ’80s New Wave glory. Contestant Muhammad Shalehan and his family, at right, in an image taken from Facebook.
At left, Spandau Ballet frontman Tony Hadley at the height of his ’80s New Wave glory. Contestant Muhammad Shalehan and his family, at right, in an image taken from Facebook.

A radio game show contestant finally got the S$10,000 prize he deserved a month after being denied by a local radio station because he had “mispronounced” the name of Spandau Ballet’s frontman.

After weeks of a backlash against the station that drew accusations of discrimination as well as a response from the ‘80s new wave band’s singer himself, Gold 905 gave in and said today it has awarded Muhammad Shalehan the money – though it remained unconvinced about his pronunciation.

“We have reached out to Mr Shalehan again to convey that we are deeply sorry,” the station said today in a statement.

A month ago it refused to award the price to Shalehan after he gave the winning answer in the station’s popular Celebrity Name Drop game, which requires people to identify names of celebrities based on audio clips. 

The decision drew headlines around the world, including from BBC, and eventually Spandau Ballet singer Tony Hadley himself weighing in to say it was the right response.

“Since Tony Hadley has said that Mr Shalehan said his name correctly, who are we to disagree?” the station said. “The full prize of $10,000 cash and shopping spree will also be awarded to Mr Shalehan.”

Hi everyone,

Thank you for all your feedback and posts.

We have reached out to Mr Shalehan again to convey that we…

Posted by Mediacorp GOLD 905 on Thursday, 21 May 2020

Spandau Ballet was a chart-topping New Wave act best remembered for hits such as True and Gold.

Responding to the good news, Shalehan today expressed his joy and gratitude to those who have supported him, especially Hadley. 

 “A big thank you to all those who stooded up by me in this fight!!! For all we/listeners know i am the righful winner. Thanks to the support from my family..A bIG Thank you to MR TONY HADLEY FOR HIS EFFORT / VIDEO AND HIS endorsement of my pronounciation of his name..Im speechless..the best news of my life..” he wrote online today. He said that the station yesterday tried to offer him an additional S$5,000 as a “token of appreciation.”

Hadley is scheduled to perform solo in Singapore this October at the Mediacorp theatre, where the radio station operates from. 

The debacle

Shalehan took part in the popular radio game show on April 21 where he was required to identify the voices of 14 celebrities based on a series of one-second audio clips. He was then told that he had gotten one of the names wrong.

He then found out during the winning announcement on May 6 that winner Jerome Tan had provided the same names he did and appealed to the station to reconsider its decision, posting online audio clips of his answers.

But Gold 905 stood by its decision, citing Shalehan’s pronunciation. 

“The rules of the game requires callers to pronounce the celebrities name accurately,”  the station said earlier this month. “Mispronounced names therefore cannot be & were not regarded as correct entries. In the case of Shalehan, he mispronounced Tony Hadley. We hope this clarifies!”

The station’s decision drew accusations that it was discriminating against Shalehan’s Malay accent.

Shalehan pleaded with Hadley to weigh in on the matter, to which Hadley posted a video saying Shalehan had pronounced his name correctly. Both men then discussed the game on a BBC radio show.

“This is the most bizarre thing that I think I’ve been involved in,” Hadley was heard as saying. “I just don’t understand it, as far as I’m concerned, you pronounced it correctly and I think the radio station should cough up the money.”

As recently as Wednesday, Gold 905 had insisted it would not reconsider.

“In the case of Mr Shalehan’s entry on 21 Apr, his pronunciation of “Hadley” did not meet the criteria as stipulated in the rules of the contest. As a result, his entry was judged as not having all the correct answers,” it said

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