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Singapore radio station reverses $10,000 prize decision after Tony Hadley intervention

By | Published on Tuesday 26 May 2020

Tony Hadley

A radio station in Singapore has awarded a man the full prize money from a competition that it previously denied he should have won. Gold 905 originally insisted that Muhammad Shalehan had not won the $10,000 prize in an on-air contest because he pronounced the name of former Spandau Ballet frontman Tony Hadley incorrectly – even after Hadley himself said otherwise.

However, following growing controversy, mainly after Hadley’s intervention, the station said in a statement late last week: “Since Tony Hadley has said that Mr Shalehan said his name correctly, who are we to disagree? The full prize of $10,000 cash and a shopping spree will also be awarded to Mr Shalehan”.

“Also awarded” because that prize had already been given to another listener who won the contest. It has to be said, the new statement doesn’t entirely hold up, given Gold 905 did previously disagree with Hadley. In fact it used a clip of Hadley saying his own name in an attempt to prove it was correct in its decision not to award Shalehan the prize money.

Shalehan entered Gold 905’s Celebrity Name Drop competition in April. The game required the winner to correctly identify the voices of fourteen celebrities saying one word of the phrase: “Gold nine oh five, the station that sounds good and makes you feel good”. Not an easy task, the competition ran for weeks, and required listeners to listen regularly and work out the full list through a process of elimination as others got guesses wrong.

As a result, when Shalehan was told that he’d only correctly identified thirteen of the fourteen voices, he wasn’t surprised. However, when someone else was awarded the prize with the same list a couple of weeks later, he was.

He queried this with the station, only to be told that he’d pronounced the first name on the list – Tony Hadley – incorrectly. And correct pronunciation was one of the rules of the game. He disputed that his pronunciation was incorrect, but was told the decision was final.

In the end, out of frustration, he attempted to get in touch with Hadley himself, finding an email address for his manager online. The email ended up being forwarded to Hadley, who sent back a video saying, “You might have had a slight accent, but as far as I’m concerned, you said my name correctly”.

Despite this, Gold 905 did not back down, saying that Shalehan’s “pronunciation of ‘Hadley’ did not meet the criteria as stipulated in the rules of the contest”, and adding that “all entries have been reviewed fairly and objectively by our judges, and our decision remains final”.

As controversy around this decision grew, the station then said that it had offered Shalehan a payment of $5000 “as a gesture of goodwill” and “a token of appreciation for his exceptional commitment to the contest”.

Its apparent hopes that this would put an end to the matter proved unfounded. With anger only growing among listeners, and international attention for the story growing, the radio station announced 48 hours later that it had reversed its decision and would now award Shalehan the full prize money.

Speaking to the BBC about Gold 905’s change of heart, Shalehan said: “I was so shocked. I feel honestly happy that justice has been served. My message to Mr Tony Hadley is a big, big, big thank you. His video was a great, great game-changer”.

Upon hearing the news, Hadley posted a new video message on his Facebook page, saying: “Thank you for acknowledging that Muhammad Shalehan’s answers were correct. He’s absolutely over the moon”.

He also invited Shalehan and the other winner of the competition – Jerome Tan – to meet him backstage at a rescheduled concert in Singapore in October. So, an extra bonus for them, and a nice opportunity to plug the show for Hadley. Everyone’s a winner.