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Chilli M: A Brand Under Construction

Posted by radio On May - 3 - 2012

By Nyeleti Machovani


Photo: Vukani Masinga AKA “Chilli M” who is now at Ukhozi FM



he legacy of fame leaves a bittersweet aftertaste, as common knowledge has it that once you become a public figure, you become the public’s fodder. There is no one who knows this better than Vukani Masinga, famously known as ‘Chilli M’.  The media has been devoted in documenting Masinga’s tribulations, more so, his trials; and those who know radio, know Chilli.

However, he seems to take it in his stride. “When you’re in the public space, you are critiqued. The spotlight is on you, and negativity comes with the perks of being a public figure”, says Masinga.  Although the interview starts off with an air of cautiousness, there is some ease as it progresses.

Masinga was born in Durban, Kwa-Mashu, and later moved to the City of Gold, Johannesburg. For him, radio has always been an obvious career choice, having found his big break at age 19 working for a national radio station. “I have no tertiary education. I was like a soccer player; my career in radio was a calculated move. I knew that was what I wanted to get into”, he says.

During the radio line-up changes in early April, 2012, Masinga joined the Durban based radio station Ukhozi FM (90.8-107.4). The move is an interesting one as having previously worked for Metro FM, East Coast radio, and YFM, the infamous radio jock has only ever broadcast for English medium stations, unlike Ukhozi which is broadcast in isiZulu. In addition, the move introduces a different working environment for him, as his previous stations were commercial radio stations, and Ukhozi FM is a Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). This, however, doesn’t deter Masinga, who infact finds the changes to be more understated than anticipated. “I’m a duck on water, radio is my space, so for me, the move to Ukhozi is not a culture shock. Radio is radio regardless of where it fits, you abide by the same professional principles”, he says. When asked about the language shift, Masinga offers a reminder that you cannot be a foreigner to your own tongue; “don’t forget that isiZulu is my home language, so I’m at home at Ukhozi FM”, affirms the jock.

Masinga is still finding his feet at the new station hosting the show ‘Konakele’ on Fridays 19:00-23:00, and ‘Chillaz’ on Saturdays at 15:00-18:00 pm which he describes to be “very much experimental, aimed at upwardly mobile executives, and lifestyle orientated”. He feels content with his weekend slots, stating; “I’m happy with my allocation doing weekend shows”. Masinga affirms that he doesn’t aspire to do drive time shows because the current weekend slots allow him to free up his weekdays which are dedicated to lecturing at Vega for a radio course to radio students.

The radio jock believes in pursuing opportunities to better yourself; “having been in the industry for 14 years, you have to be able to reinvent yourself to stay relevant. In this industry you are sustained by a pure love for radio. Passion is inherent”, he says. Having said that, Masinga isn’t shy to express his thoughts about the current crop of radio DJ’s. “Nowadays, the new crop of DJ’s lack talent, we don’t have true radio personalities. In my time, you could easily spot talent, that’s why there are a lot of radio legends from that era. We no longer have the makings of a legend”, he says. However, Masinga is quick to interject, as if removing the floating assumption that he is a radio legend, “I’m not saying I’m a legend myself, at 35 years of age, I cannot call myself a veteran because I’m still a brand under construction”. According to him, the makings of a legend are someone who is constantly curious, passionate, and avoids complacency.



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One Response to “Chilli M: A Brand Under Construction”

  1. Everytime I am (amased|shocked|suprised) to learn so much more, just as a thougt I knew (a lot|much) about this subject.

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