Grit Sripaurya (The man with TITS)
by Dr. Iain Corness
Grit Sripaurya is a man with TITS, but he is
definitely no katoey. He is the owner and producer of the Chiang
Mai Tourist Information and Travel Service community radio,
giving it that wonderfully controversial acronym TITS. However,
these days Grit also says that it can stand for This Is Thai
Style! He also has a more than passing resemblance to
Thailand’s tennis star Paradorn, but although his radio
station is next to a tennis court, that is as close as Grit gets
to that racket!
Grit is a real Chiang Mai citizen, having been born here and
educated for much of his young life at the Prince Royal’s
College. His father, who came from Southern Thailand, was a
contractor who worked in Saudi Arabia when Grit was a very young
boy, whilst his mother comes from a well established northern
He showed independent thoughts quite early in his life and
harboured the dream of joining the military, even going so far
as to complete the aptitude testing for entry. However, both his
parents vetoed that idea, as they wanted their younger son to be
a businessman, and follow his heritage.
Perhaps to ensure that Grit did not continue to pursue this
dream, he was packed off to New Zealand to continue his
schooling and finish his education. This was a unilateral
decision, with Grit saying, “This is very typical of Thai
parents, who do not discuss these decisions with the
children.” However, it was not a decision that Grit would
disagree with today, even if he would have liked some input at
From NZ, he moved across the Tasman Sea to Perth in Western
Australia to study Commercial Law. This career path was one he
chose for himself, but it was not to hold his interest too long,
and he dropped out. “I wanted to study something I could use,
but maybe I’ll go back to do the last year,” he mused.
However, looking at the way Grit is carving a niche for himself
in the Chiang Mai media, I doubt if that will ever happen.
He returned to Thailand and set his mind on something he could
use, and that was farm management. “Thailand is a farming
country,” he said, and with the family owning some
agricultural land, it looked like a practical decision. He went
to Israel to study farm management and returned after the
year’s course to work with his father in managing their
orchards and vineyards. Unfortunately, this did not work out, as
many young men have found over the centuries. “I’m just too
much like my father for us to be able to work together,” he
Now was the time he had to strike out on his own. He had a
passion for music, and jazz in particular. He had been playing
the saxophone since his student days in NZ, and was in a small
band here in Chiang Mai, when a chance meeting with a radio
station owner saw him being offered the job of hosting a jazz
show. He thought would be a good idea, both for himself and for
jazz in the North, so he began as a DJ.
After one month he received a very rude shock, when he was
presented with bills for renting air-time! This was not how he
imagined the ‘job’ offer had been made, so his fledgling DJ
career ceased at that point. However, he did enjoy the
experience, and had observed how the station was run, “So I
decided to set up my own radio station. I have found that
managing it was very tough. I’m doing everything from
marketing to even being the janitor!”
This individual thinking young man had already decided that his
radio station should be different from all the others, even
beginning with the TITS acronym. “I looked for something
To make his station different, he divides the music styles
played into clear-cut divisions, be that jazz, chart toppers,
rock or even hip-hop. He also is in the business of actively
supporting and promoting local talent. “If a group comes with
a tape, we will play it straight away. We will also find what
the listeners think. Even the foreigners want to hear local
It was at this point that Grit the philosopher became apparent.
“I am trying to open the eyes and ears of the Chiang Mai
people.” But it does not stop there with just programming on
his radio station. Grit Sripaurya is an ‘agent of change’.
He has a very deep love of his province and its people, and is
appalled at the lack of foresight that is often shown here.
“My father’s from the South and overseas educated. He has
taught me to look ahead and have a contingency plan for
everything. That’s why I have two identical mobile phones, and
even keep a spare drum of gasoline at home.”
Along with running his radio station, he has plans to branch out
into local TV, and even the print media, but assured me that
whatever, “We will be different and outrageous, just like TITS
To keep his head ‘together’, he rides a single seat sports
motorcycle, “When you ride you don’t have to talk to
anybody.” However, he does make sure that he wears the full
safety gear. He does think ahead and put the thoughts into
Grit Sripaurya is still very young, but even at 26 years of age,
he has a very clear-cut direction that he has set for himself.
His vision for the future is one that encompasses not just
personal advancement, but also advancement and improvement for
Chiang Mai itself. I sincerely hope that he can keep this vision
bright and alive as he goes through life. So many young
idealists lose that fire as they slip into a more ‘accepted’
mode as they become successful. Somehow, I believe that Grit has
the ‘grit’ and tenacity to keep this vision. It will be good
for Chiang Mai if he can.
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