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Robert Marawa Sets the Bar High

Posted by radio On May - 7 - 2012

Photo: Robert Marawa

Robert Marawa is a perfect example of someone who followed his passion. After dropping out from studying for a law degree at Witwatersrand University he opted for continuity presenting at the state broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC). Little did he know that he was on his way to becoming one of the country’s most celebrated radio and TV anchor.

I remember vaguely back in the 90’s when I was still in high school tuning in to the then Radio Metro , now Metro fm. What drew me to the station was the kind of music they played. Those were the days of Bob Mabena & Tracey Going, Grant Shakoane, Ernest Pillay, Treasure Shabalala to mention but a few. However, in the late 90’s the station started a sports show which was mainly on weekends between 6pm and 7pm. Isaac Phaahla, Thomas Kwenaite and Marks Maponyane were some of the first anchors on the show.

After a while Moreyo Senyana, who is now a Communications Manager at the South African Football Association, took over the reins and he was followed by none other than the current anchor Robert Marawa. He started the show with limited radio experience; he had only been a continuity presenter at SABC 1 for a few years. Metro FM management took a risk and gambled on this inexperienced young man from KwaZulu Natal. It was a gamble that paid off. Marawa, the host of Discovery Sports Centre, has changed the face of sports talk radio in South Africa for the better and his radio show currently attracts millions of sports lovers to Metro FM, especially football followers.

Extended slot

Just before the FIFA Confederation Cup in June 2009, Metro FM decided to extend the show’s time by an extra half an hour. This means that from Monday to Friday 18h00 to 19h30 is the sports talk show at Metro. It has even attracted the attention of big corporate sponsorship from Discovery, hence the name of the show. The extra half an hour gave Robert and the show an opportunity; it allowed the show to have more callers after each interview or breaking news item. Marawa’s consistency is also attributable to his evergreen producer Beverley Maphangwa who has been with the show for (how long? 10 years ).

Even the first citizens

Marawa doesn’t just interview sports stars. He has even interviewed one of the world’s greatest statesmen, Nelson Mandela, his successor former president Thabo Mbeki, and the current president Jacob Zuma.

Controversy

In 2007 the Premier Soccer League (PSL) decided to award the satellite TV channel Supersport International the rights to broadcast their games in a R1,7bn, 5-year deal. The SABC, which used to hold these rights, was not impressed. This was at the time when Marawa had left SABC TV Sport to join the pay TV channel Supersport. When he left SABC   he was an anchor of the then MTN Soccerzone on Monday nights. However, Marawa kept his radio job at Metro FM as an anchor, which is part of SABC Radio. He was seen celebrating with his new bosses (Supersport) after the announcements of the winning bid and his previous employer didn’t take kindly to that which ended in a suspension. Marawa was subsequently re-instated back to his popular Discovery Sports Centre show on Metro fm.

Another level

Before, during and after the FIFA 2010 Soccer World Cup held in these shores, Marawa interviewed high profile soccer personalities, from former players to administrators, from FIFA officials to international commentators, live on his radio show. This put him and the station on the world map; the international soccer community now knows the Discovery Sports Centre show and the name Robert Marawa.

Branded TV show

Supersport has also given Marawa his own show called Thursday Night with Marawa, a magazine type sports show covering current sports news and events. The show features interviews with guests, previews and live music performances by local and international artists. The Marawa brand is very much associated with football in South Africa. This has opened opportunities for the broadcaster who now regularly MC’s soccer functions.

Marawa is clearly doing exceptionally well in his chosen career field, and the industry is taking note. In 2011 at the SAB Sports Media Awards 2011, Marawa walked away with the title of ‘Radio Sports Journalist of the Year’ for Metro FM, as well as ‘SAB Sports Presenter of the Year’ in television for Supersport. Not a bad judgement  on the law student drop-out.

 

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