[Written by Chloe Smith]
Thomas Msengana’s career in radio began at Good Hope FM in Cape Town. It seems like a lifetime ago when Thomas Msengana joined YFM. The year was 1997 and the station had just been launched. co-hosted the Harrambe Show with Lee Kusumba, Msengana was instrumental in communicating the YFM lifestyle, reaching the youth of South Africa through great conversation, a knack for being brave in his own right as a DJ and a love for the radio industry. He left the station in 2006 to join Metro FM. Fast forward to 2012 and the DJ formerly known as Bad Boy T had a candid chat with Radiobiz’s Chloe Smith about YFM then and now ….
Apart from a charming tendency to call me darling whenever the call was breaking up, Thomas Msengana (formerly known as Bad Boy T) is down-to-earth and real in a way that you wouldn’t expect a nationally renowned and loved radio personality to be.
You were with YFM from the inception of the station. What made you decide to throw your lot in with a (then) brand new station? – Randall was the station manager in Cape Town at the time (at Good Hope) and he said to try YFM. It was my first opportunity to get out of Cape Town and I took it.
Do you feel that your experience at YFM helped you grow as a DJ? – Y was a station that was very progressive at the time, brave in its approach to broadcasting. It couldn’t compare to other stations. It had great tactics for gaining listenership. It was true in its essence and what it stood for as a youth station.
Over the last 15 years, how do you feel that the station has grown? – Y is now confined to rules of radio. Back then, YFM was brave enough to play songs that other radio stations weren’t playing, walking away from what record companies suggested they should play. Y and 5 are the same now, which is disappointing.
Do you feel that YFM is catering to their target market? – That’s hard for me to answer to answer cuz (sic) I’m not their target market anymore. Whether they want that style of music or conversation is not for me to say.
You left YFM before the Y Academy was initiated. Do you feel that the programme is providing Young South Africans with an opportunity to break into the radio industry? – Yes definitely. I wish we had an opportunity like that when we were starting radio. But it’s hard to teach someone radio – you either have it or you don’t. You need to have your own personality, be creative in your own style and find your own style of broadcasting. It’s hard to teach someone that. Everyone sounds the same nowadays and that is the danger of radio. But [the programme] is great thing.
Where do you see YFM in 15 years’ time? – I hope it will go back to basics. Listen to their target market and be brave enough to have its own sound and identity. Sponsors and advertisers will come. Coke was our only advertiser at the beginning – people said the station would never grow. Coke saw the future in the station and I hope they get back in touch with that vision.
The man formerly known as Bad Boy T is a bad boy no more; a married father of two, Thomas says he is now a man who plays golf.
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