[By: Kgomotso Moncho]
Kgomotso’s conversation with Vuma FM’s manager continues, she tells us about her move to KwaZulu-Natal where she is currently based.
East Coast Radio and the move to KZN
She was then scooped up by East Coast Radio in KZN in 2003. “Radio can be very overwhelming and people put this hype around you. But I surround myself with people like my family who don’t see a celebrity in me. They just see Phindile. So moving to KZN was not a hard decision. And here I had no expectation to live up to. I could just be myself. I started with a weekend show at East Coast Radio for seven months where I would literally fly into Durban do my show and fly out.”
When she was offered a weekday show, she relocated. She did all kinds of different slots from 9-12 afternoons, to 3-6am. The one thing that Phindi prides herself on is being a hands-on presenter. While at YFM she also got to work on the station’s website. And when she got to East Coast Radio she taught herself to multitask, presenting and running her desk and doing the technical stuff. She says she was always asking things, wanting to learn, that some people might have thought she was a nuisance. After five years at East Coast Radio, she left and formed a marketing and events company which she ran for a year.
During that time P4, which had re-launched and repositioned itself as Gagasi FM contacted her. “From the time I had been with YFM to the time I had left East Coast Radio, radio had evolved so much. There were iPods and smart phones so people did not solely depend on radio for music. So I told myself that the next radio show I was going to do had to contribute immensely to the lives of the people who listened to me. This is what I told Gagasi and they gave me the 9am -12 midday show. I themed my shows: Monday we spoke about health, Tuesdays would focus on careers, Wednesdays would be on legal matters ,Thursdays would be for finance and on Fridays I would dedicate to unsung heroes in our communities, be it an old lady in Kwa Mashu who houses homeless kids in her house, for instance. That is how I structured the show and an extension of the show became an event,” she says.
Vuma 103FM and the present
She left Gagasi after five years which was in September last year when she was offered the position of Station Manager at the new KZN regional radio station, Vuma 103fm. “This position came to me at a time when I had grown and it spoke to the way I live my life. I grew up with Christian values which this station is based on. I come into the job with my 15 years of experience in radio with the objective to make Vuma a successful radio station in the country, well aware of the fact that there are a few female station managers in the country. It’s a huge challenge, but that someone believes that I can do it, also makes me feel confident. But the other thing that made me feel like I can do anything I set my mind to is having run the comrades marathon. Everyone should do run the comrades at some point in their lives. It will change your life I promise, you,” Phindi says.
She adds that all the things she has learnt in her 15 years of radio experience she is now implementing. “I had to find the presenters for the station which was difficult. But I was adamant to get people from KZN. Our listenership is 24 upwards, but our epicenter is 32, so the average age of our presenters is 32. It takes a lot of guts to make certain decisions. Like when I decided to bring Leleti Khumalo on board as a presenter. I got backlash that Leleti is not a radio person and such, but my response is always that Koos Radebe took a chance on me. He did not know me and I had no radio experience, when he took me in as a news reader. We all have something, that potential. A lot of the presenters are coming from community radio stations. And because I have been on radio, I know how things work. Because I’m a hands-on person, I get involved. We have only been on air for just over a month and we are growing. On our first day on air on our Facebook page, we went over 1500 likes and it was encouraging.”
Talking about what attracted her to radio Phindi says she likes that radio is old fashioned and that it allows people to use their imaginations, while allowing the presenter to speak to thousands of people. That requires one to be responsible with the platform in addition to being informed when you’re behind the mic. She also likes the interactive nature of radio which allows the listeners a voice and the fact that radio is not for the elite.
In rounding up all her experience she has no highlights, but instead milestones of what each experience gave her. “YFM made me appreciate being a young person. It gave me my life as a young adult and the people I worked with were awesome and as young as was. When it started I was the only female presenter and it felt like I was being spoilt by my big brothers. When I got to East Coast Radio I was at a point where I wanted to learn everything about radio to the bottom of it. And East Coast radio is like an oiled machine. It is a well run radio station and there is so much that I learnt there about how radio works as a business. I had the time of my life there as well. Gagasi got me to a point where I could understand and explore the province as an outsider from Gauteng. My Zulu is not the most awesome but the love I got from the listeners was amazing. They took me by the hand to teach me the language. I enjoyed the interaction and understanding the culture. And my experience at Gagasi in a way prepared me for my current job.” says Phindi in conclusion.
Things you might not know about Phindi:
She is a manic runner and loves exercising
She loves reading, especially self help and inspirational books
Radio has taught her or revealed to her that she loves old people. There’s an old age home she likes visiting in Kwa Mashu
She loves to cook and is a home body
She loves travelling
And she loves fashion and calls herself a style guru at heart (and she attributes this to her dad, whom her mom tells her was very stylish). She hopes to open up a boutique soon specializing in clothes for petite women.