Marcus Chin: 'When I go to Lucky Plaza, many of the ladies recognise me!'
The hosts of Love 97.2FM’s Breakfast Quartet – Chin, Mark Lee, Dennis Chew and Chen Biyu – are so bankable, their radio show has even spawned a movie.
Even if you’ve never tuned in to Love 97.2FM’s Breakfast Quartet, you’ve probably heard of the four hilarious hosts. Such is the popularity of Mark Lee, Dennis Chew, Marcus Chin and Chen Biyu that since their Mandarin radio show, also known as Yu Jian Huang Chong, debuted in 2015, it has spawned talk shows, TV variety shows and even a musical. And now, they are finally hitting the big screen.
Make It Big Big, directed by Lee and chronicling the personal lives and misadventures of the four personalities, will hit cinemas next week. The plot is 70 per cent true to real life, the three guys told us when we sat down with them for a chat (Chen was unfortunately away and could not be part of the photo shoot, but don’t worry – as you can see, we fixed it so you barely notice her absence).
Exactly how popular and influential is the quartet, whose ages range between 45 and 64?
“Once, we mentioned on air how much we felt like having the lor mee from a particular stall,” Lee recounted. “Right after that, people started calling in and saying, ‘I’m bringing some over.’”
“In the end, over 100 packs of lor mee arrived!” Chew said. “The next day, we had to tell them on air, ‘Thanks for the lor mee, but we’re sorry to have troubled you, and our management isn’t too happy about it.’ Then, people emailed to say, ‘Tell your management that we did it of our own accord!’”
He continued, “Once, when we were reporting the news on air, I suggested, ‘Why don’t we read the news in dialect?’ I filmed each person speaking in different dialects, and the clip went up on Facebook. It broke records for Mediacorp. The views surpassed one million.”
“Then we sang a Pokemon song in dialect, and that got over two million views,” Lee added.
The commitment of their fans extends to their events and appearances, too. The biggest turnout, they recall, was at their very first fan meet at Eastpoint Mall two years ago. Spectators lined all five floors, and the mall's representatives remarked that the last time there had been such a crowd was at an appearance by Taiwanese girl group S.H.E.
“The thing that made us happiest was that there were people of all ages, even children,” Lee said.
“Usually at road shows, each fan club cheers for their artiste only. But everyone was cheering for us,” Chew said. “It amazed even us – that a radio show could have such influence.”
Which of the quartet is the most in demand? “Sometimes, we deliberately say that Marcus is old and no one wants him. Wah, the WhatsApp messages that come in – when you look at the profile pictures, they are young girls – say, ‘I want you! I’ll do anything you want!’”
“It just so happens that I also host the TV show Golden Age Talentime,” Chin demurred. “The oldies watch it, so their grandchildren watch it with them – and their helpers, too. When I go to Lucky Plaza, many of the ladies recognise me!”
“Biyu has her die-hard fans, too,” Lee said.
Taking advantage of Chen’s absence to gossip about her, Chew said, “She loves re-watching movies up to 10 times. Like La La Land. And Shah Rukh Khan movies.” “She doesn’t have a boyfriend or a family, so she has lots of time and money,” Chin quipped. “But if you buy her an LV bag, she won’t use it – she prefers her S$2.95 tote,” Lee said. “And her pencil case looks like she’s been using it since Primary Three. She was probably the kind of teenager who would wear her school uniform skirt to the disco.”
It’s this sort of easy banter, the guys mused when pressed to say what they thought accounted for their popularity, that has probably contributed to the quartet's wild success.
“We don’t really set out topics for discussion in advance,” Chin said, crediting their free and easy spontaneity.
“I think we are ourselves, and that makes the listeners feel comfortable,” Lee said. “We don’t put on any pretenses… Our chemistry is organic, and that makes working together very stress-free.”
Make It Big Big is in cinemas Jan 3.