10 Questions

10 questions with Karen Koh

Ahead of speaking at the national conference, we sat down with the multi-talented Karen Koh.

Women in Media recently sat down with media specialist Karen Koh to discuss her current role, achievements and perfect day at work. She will be speaking at the 2022 Women in Media National Conference.

What is your current role?

I have multiple roles – as a communications specialist for a New York-based media training firm, Clarity Media Group, as a freelance producer and presenter of a number of radio shows for the Hong Kong public broadcaster RTHK, as a professional Master of Ceremonies for live and virtual events, and as the producer and host of a corporate radio show and podcast for a private client. I’m also a stand up paddle (SUP) instructor and SUP Yoga instructor.

How did you get into the media industry?

I started as a current affairs producer in Singapore in 1989, working for the public TV station’s weekly flagship current affairs program called “Friday Background”. It usually covered headline international, economic and social stories each week. I was thinking about becoming a diplomat but didn’t get an interview, and the TV job was the first one I was offered. Fortunately, I loved it and I’ve stayed in the media ever since.

What professional achievement are you most proud of?

Being part of the startup anchor team for BBC World in London when we launched in 1991.

Our studio was a converted tape closet and I worked with a lovely team of talented producers, directors and fellow presenters. It was my first presenting role and really gave me great on-air experience and exposure. (Even though I had to work overnights for the Asia daytime audience!)

Even now people still tell me stories of how they used to see me in their hotel rooms somewhere around the world.

What is one of the biggest challenges you’ve encountered?

Getting laid off from CNBC in 2001 was both a challenge and a huge opportunity. It’s never nice to have a choice taken away from you, but it forces you out of your comfort zone and into action. It prompted me to start freelancing, which has been incredibly diverse and fun, and now I think I’d find it hard to go back to a regular “job”.

Who has been your biggest mentor and influence for you?

One of my former bosses at CNBC, Chris Graves, was a huge influence. He had a “no yelling” policy in the newsroom, and mentored me when I transitioned from anchor to bureau chief in Hong Kong. And my friend Mark Erder, who helped me with ideas about how to become a freelancer when I left CNBC and also gave me lots of gigs with his production company APV.

What is something no-one knows about you?

One day I’d love to do stand-up comedy.

How do you wind down after work?

I listen to a lot of music, watch TV shows – I love both dramas and comedy – cook, have a glass of wine, watch funny animal videos on Instagram, talk with friends or family. Go roller skating!

What are you reading at the moment?

God Save the Queens by Kathy Iandoli. It’s about the history of women in hip-hop. There’s been plenty written about male hip-hop artists, but very little about women. I’m learning a lot!

What does the immediate future hold?

Returning to Hong Kong, where I’ve lived for almost 30 years. I thought I was leaving for a three-month holiday last July, but Hong Kong’s continual, strict quarantine requirements kept me away. There have also been many political changes and the whole media landscape is very unwelcoming now, so I’m quite ambivalent about going back.

Describe a perfect day in your role

Spend the morning prepping for a lunchtime live radio show, host the show, then in the afternoon run a training session for a client. End the day listening to some new music.

Important Update

National conference tickets have sold out. Sign up for the waitlist.

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