Legendary D.J. goes off the airwaves

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Legendary D.J. goes off the airwaves


D.J. Kim Ki-deok bid farewell to fans last month during the final broadcast of his 37-year career. By Byun Sun-goo

A crowd of 30 or so fans gathered around the recording room for the start of the radio program “FM Golden Disk” on April 25, some coming from as far as Ulsan and Gumi. They were all there to witness the last recording of legendary D.J. Kim Ki-deok.

Kim has been with the MBC Radio Broadcasting Station since the beginning of his 37-year career. He was hired as a newscaster in 1972 and started working as a professional D.J. the next year. He set the record in the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest time a person has led one program, the radio program “Date at 2 o’clock.” He has done more than 7,500 shows in a period of 23 years.

“I have a fan of his since ‘Date at 2 o’clock’ started,” says Hong Won-pyo, 36, who attended Kim’s farewell show. “I was first mesmerized by his clear and crisp voice but it was surprising to know that he was only five years younger than my father. It’s a shame to see him go when he’s still so healthy.”

For Kim, it’s just the beginning.

“Do we ever retire from life?” Kim said. “I think it’s the start of a change. I’m going to try new things and maybe I will be able to meet my fans through another means of broadcasting.”

As a D.J., Kim played a significant role in disseminating pop culture in Korea during the 1970s to 80s. He not only played the part of the D.J., but also worked as a producer and writer for his shows.

During the early 80s, Kim worked with comedian Park Se-min on “Pop Gag Drama.” Later, he became the first person in Korean broadcasting history to chat with his fans on the Internet during a broadcast.

“He’s different from the pop columnists who try to use fancy words. Even first-time listeners don’t have any difficulty understanding the world of pop music,” said Kim Gun-woo, a fan.

Kim acknowledges he has tried to be considerate of the public.

“I have been selecting music to match the tastes of my fans and I’ve just been going along with the flow of the times,” he said.

Indeed, many things have changed since the first time Kim stepped into a recording booth, from the public’s taste in music to the way people listen to it.

“I used to listen to Kim by turning the dial of a desk radio and now I’m able to stream the broadcast via the Internet or my MP3 player,” said Shin Soo-yang, 45.

Also, in the 70s, the ratio of American or British pop to Korean pop on the radio in Korea was 8 to 2, but these days Korean music makes up the larger portion.

Kim interprets this as a sign that Korean music has become more sophisticated through the influence of pop from overseas.

Shin Kwan-cheol, the program producer, says FM Golden Disk will continue, with singer Lee Sang-eun on the microphone. The format will remain the same, but they will mix pop with other genres, such as musical theater and movie music, and a more youthful tone, Shin said.

By Kang Hye-ran [estyle@joongang.co.kr]

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마지막 방송에서 고른 첫 곡은 ‘인생은 꽃(Life is a Flower)’. 선율이 잦아들 즈음, 담담한 목소리가 흘렀다. “꽃이 져야 열매를 맺습니다. 저 또한 다시 피기 위한 진통이라고 이해해 주셨으면….” 녹음실 밖에서 여럿이 훌쩍였다. 37년 MBC 라디오 인생에 마침표를 찍는 순간이다. ‘온 에어(On Air)’ 표시 아래 전자시계가 무정하게 60분이 끝나감을 알렸다. “이별의 시간까지 사랑의 깊이를 알지 못한다더니, 마라톤의 긴 트랙을 완주하기까지 도와주신 분들께 감사 드립니다.”

DJ 김기덕(62)씨가 25일 ‘FM골든디스크 김기덕입니다’를 떠났다. 37년간 드나든 서울 여의도 MBC 라디오본부 주조정실과도 작별했다. “보내기 싫다”고 눈물 글썽이는 팬들, 이들 덕분에 혼자 있던 녹음실이 외롭지 않았다.

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