It was Thursday and just a little past six in the evening. Two professors were busily finalizing the flow of their program in DZUP’s radio booth. With teasers playing on air, Jay Yacat and Summer Parcon agreed on what questions and issues they would discuss with their guest.
A ringing school bell sound effect plays and then the technician gives his signal to the hosts. Going live on 3… 2… 1 and “Good evening everyone, ako po si Jay. At ako po si Summer. At ito ang Psych o’Clock Habit.”
Now on its eighth year, Psych o’Clock Habit, or PoCH, is a regular radio program on the University of the Philippines Diliman’s campus radio station DZUP 1602 on the AM band. Originally conceived in 2009 by former Department of Psychology Professor Cherrie Joy Billedo, it was the result of an observation that there is a proliferation of programs on mainstream radio stations which offer advice by phone to questions from listeners.
According to Assistant Professor Jay Yacat, Billedo saw how popular the radio programs were and felt that the Department of Psychology could come up with a radio show which will capitalize on the expertise of its faculty members in discussing psychological issues and at the same time promote psychology as a program to its listeners. With Assistant Professor Ton Clemente, Billedo would host the show. “The goal was to make psychology more accessible,” Yacat says.
While the program was not originally conceived to tackle mental health issues in the university, Assistant Professor Apryl Mae Parcon, better known as Summer, says it is inevitable that PoCH take on topics and concerns which deal with the psychological welfare of its listeners, particularly those emotional challenges that confront students of the university.
Yacat and Parcon now regularly anchor the radio program on Thursday evenings. Aside from being on the booth on DZUP, they also maintain PoCH’s social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. And they also maintain a blog, where former host and fellow Psychology Department faculty member, Ton Clemente, helps write the entries. Previous episodes of the program are also hosted on the DZUP website, as well as on IskWiki or the university’s interactive online learning platform.
Without their own production assistants, researchers, and writers, the show’s hosts take on a more direct role in the program, preparing the music playlists that accompany their discussion themselves. They also run the program as a free-flowing discussion, which Yacat says could be its greatest strength, since they are not constrained by a fixed flow for their conversations with their guests, thus making their episodes more natural and interesting. “I feel that this is how the program distinguishes itself, by being spontaneous,” he adds.
For Developmental Psychologist Parcon, the spontaneous flow of the program could be the reason why their audience follows every episode. “It’s good that you can discuss certain concepts in a very conversational way,” she says. “The listeners feel like they’re just eavesdropping on a conversation, but at the same time, they’re also learning certain things,” she adds.
With its tagline Usapang Malaman, Hindi Puro Chika Lang, PoCH has held discussions on air which dealt with love, courtship and relationships; academics and sports; body image; cultural identity; gender; supernatural beliefs; sleep; and even habits. The radio show has also tackled much-talked about issues such as the concerns of indigenous communities, elections, and social media.
“One of our strongest advocacies is Sikolohiyang Pilipino. For every episode, as much as possible, we try to contextualize things in our culture,” says Yacat.
Social Psychologist Yacat attributes their ability to tackle different issues aside from those which are covered by their expertise to the willingness of faculty members from other departments in UP Diliman and other UP campuses to participate in their program. “We also use the program to showcase local talents, faculty research, students, and their talents,” he says with a chuckle.
Aside from social issues, PoCH has also served as a platform for the presentation and discussion of research works of experts and students taking up subjects with the Department of Psychology. Parcon says this helps in the dissemination of the ideas and a deeper understanding of the phenomena covered by the studies.
While PoCH may have covered serious and in some cases controversial topics, both Yacat and Parcon say they have not had any problem with their guests or listeners in their discussions. They do admit to being careful with handling the discussions so as not to cause undue concern and attention.
Both hosts also attribute the program’s resilience over the years to the support extended to them by their department, which considers PoCH as an important platform which promotes its academic programs, as well as the expertise of its faculty and works of its students. “We try as much as we can to present psychology in a non-threatening manner,” says Parcon.
Over the years, PoCH has not only attracted more and more audiences but also the attention of award giving bodies. In 2014, the program landed on the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) Golden Dove Awards as a finalist in the Best Radio Magazine Show award. The hosts attribute this recognition to the show’s impact on its listeners, particularly among the university community.
Aside from award-giving bodies, Psych o’Clock Habit has also attracted the attention of some faculty members of other colleges and universities. Yacat notes a time when they learned from some students of another university who were advised by their teacher to go over the archived episodes of the radio show for a paper in their class. Parcon on the other hand highlights the story of a UP Diliman student who took up Psychology, after having been a listener to the radio program since her high school years.
As a pioneering radio program on DZUP hosted by faculty members of the College of Social Sciences and Philosophy, Yacat says that PoCH has served to inspire other departments to also have their own shows on the campus radio station.
Yacat admits that hosting the program takes up time and effort, but he finds value in how it has been able to help out some students and members of the university in understanding social phenomena and issues. For Parcon, one of the significant contributions of the program is how it has also become a platform for the dissemination of the research of members of the university community. “For as long as we can do it, we’re committed to Psych o’Clock Habit,” Yacat adds.
Psych o’Clock regularly airs Thursday evenings from 6:00 pm to 7:00 p.m. on DZUP 1602 on AM radio. It is also streamed live on dzup.org.