Ali Najim operates a one man show; Director, Producer and Broadcaster, he’s the head of the popular Marina FM show Refresh. A graduate in English Literature and Linguistics, he’s now a decade into his career which launched after he won the 2006 Marina FM talent search at the tender age of 16. He met with the Khaleejesque team to give an inside look into what it’s really like working for Kuwait’s number one radio station.
Najim was running late for our meeting, yet as he explained his tardiness was due to his one month old baby girl keeping him at home for some impromptu playtime, who can be angry one of Kuwait’s most loveable media personalities. With his laid back attitude, conversation flowed easily and I discovered a man whose approach to media is far deeper than to simply entertain.
Lucy Moore: How did you land in radio?
Ali Najim: I’m a very talkative person, if you watch videos of me as a kid you can tell. I used to take videos of every family celebration but you can’t see me, you can just hear my voice. Like commentary, I love talking about what I can see.
LM: Is this how you build ideas for your daily show?
AN: My team and I have a daily production meeting one hour before we air. We grab a coffee and cake, a bit of chit-chat, and then we discuss topics. We never talk about the next day, we don’t postpone our ideas.
LM: Where did the idea for Al-Aghlabiya Al-Samita, The Silent Majority, come from?
AN: That segment happened by coincidence but it’s what made my show and I so famous. It’s a very light segment, four minutes out of a two hour show, yet I found that when you’re spontaneous and don’t try to fake anything, people will feel you’re right beside them.
LM: Have you had many guests who’ve made a big impact on you?
AN: A lot actually. I do love each and every guest. They’re creative, brilliant, and sometimes give me a lesson to learn. I have hated some guests and didn’t like their personalities. I can proudly say that because I discovered that some of them are very shallow or don’t have knowledge of their field.
LM: How do you react in that situation?
AN: I try to defend them as much as possible and give them advice once we’re off air. I don’t show them my disappointment while we’re recording for one reason; people listening will tell me that I made them look bad. If I can’t keep them positive then I’ll be the meanest person they’ll ever meet. I’ll ask very tough questions and show listeners how empty the person really is.
LM: Have you ever asked someone to leave?
AN: I try to give respect, because it is part of our traditions and my personality; it’s like this person is visiting my home. Would I ever think of kicking someone off? Yes.
LM: What’s been the most controversial experience you’ve had on radio?
AN: An interview I had with an actress, I asked an innocent question and she answered “What’s wrong with you guys? This question is very shallow and stupid”. I was taken a back and replied “Stupid?” This is my show, this is my team and if you don’t like the question, tell me. Don't attack me, because then I’ll attack you. So I told her “I think I need to order you a green tea so you can chill but be certain that this was the easiest question I’m going to ask you”.
LM: Is it unusual for you to have so much emotion on air?
AN: Not really because my segment is quite sensitive, I talk a lot about love, emotions, and feelings. Previously, I was afraid that people would judge me, that they’d say I was encouraging bad ideas but then I asked myself one question and answered on air; “I don’t think love is bad or forbidden.”