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Hear ye the talk of the town

Posted by radio On May - 20 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

[By Kagiso Mnisi]

A couple of years ago whilst an intern at 702’s Eye Witness News, I had an opportunity to shadow Stephen Grootes. In our to and fro chases after stories, a mystic aura would envelope him whenever he cared to dish pearls of wisdom about the brimstone scorching realm of talk radio. Like a sensei or Jedi he would glare in this young urchin’s eyes and say special-power one liners such as ‘talk radio is rock n’ roll, only without the music’. Grootes meticulously manufactured an otherworldly rant about the radio medium (specifically talk) which by any generic notion is perceived to be the stuff of even keenness and full of humdrum about socio political this and that. It is through Stephens double-bespectacled lens that the latest goings on have to be viewed—its rock n’ rollness. It is nothing shorter than a deranged guitar solo when observing the movements.


Speculations ran on overdrive when Eusebius MacKaiser bowed from 702 at the peak of a healthy following, he was tipped to be soul training his way to Power FM which launches in July this year. His signature witticism did little to allay any murmurs with most of his tweets throwing hints of a new show at the black owned station. Then as the tabloids in their ooh-ahh kid of glory, an unfounded yarn would be weaved. Sunday World drew first blood by alluding to a ‘rift’ between McKaiser and Power’s boss Given Mkhari. Sunday World came out saying that it “understands that the anchor had a disagreement with Mkhari about his role at the station.” These claims were later refuted by McKaiser on Facebook saying:


Eusebius Mckaiser


Inaccurate article about me in today’s Sunday World. I liked the title though (the sub-editor deserves a Savannah)

‘Return of the Mac to 702?’

No I am not returning to 702. No, there is no beef between us either — it is an excellent radio station with a great heart and my early coaches and mentors in broadcasting are there. I respect my ex-colleagues hugely. With a malfunctioning SABC we are lucky to have 702. But I am not returning in the near future. Your 702 inside source, Sunday World, is clearly not an eyewitness reporter… 😉
As for me and the gifted Mr Mkhari from POWER FM, let’s just say…watch this powerful space!!
Facts: things that depend on what a tabloid reporter had for breakfast.


Just as the wave of responsible journalism had risen and ready to break into irreparable splinters (rendering it now total hogwash), another of talk’s pockets, Safm is forever playing catch up in a bid to be credible. Still reeling from last year’s furore of its presenters being silenced in interviews with political heads, there still is no vista in sight to redeem the station. The introduction of POIB (Protection Of State Of Information bill), should have been a eureka moment for the station to openly debate the merits of this development. Safm’s ‘debate’, ‘insight’, ‘analysis’ motto just does not hold a drop, if anything it is a one way slide to outright patronisation– an equivalent to SABC 3’s news come time to close shop. It is all airy fairy, unwarranted and uncomfortable.


With all that jazz, talk is after all abuzz with activity, the kind of happenings Grootes hinted at with his Obi Wan advice. Listen closely and you can almost hear your eardrum vibrating with anything but dullness. Maybe poetry guised as commentary of our restless time. But certainly not boring.





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Radiobiz is looking for Writers

Posted by radio On May - 11 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Are you opinionated, articulate, edgy, intelligent, hardworking with a keen interest in radio?  We welcome articles about industry issues, views, news or trends.

If you are interested in becoming an online freelancer or contributor for Radiobiz, send us your CV,  Contributions Introduction, which is  a short personal profile and a ‘ Test Article’. This is mainly to establish your writing style to assess if you could potentially adhere to our writing style.

1. Choose a subject which is relevant, edgy and radio related.
2. Write no more than 350 words.
3. Consider your presentation style; Grammar, Microsoft Word Doc, Times New Roman, pt 12. 1.5; Line spacing, Picture(s), Heading.
4. Sources


(1) CV

(2) Contributors Introduction

(3) Test Article

We will consider your application and get back to you in due time.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

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In The Wrong Rock Show we trust

Posted by radio On May - 9 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

[By: Kagiso Mnisi]


The nature of rock shows on contemporary radio is to be outrightly brash and risk taking in the way they are packaged. This has been a long standing pattern ever since the height of pirate radio in the 60s, where angst fuelled teens addled with copious amounts of LSD, would take off the coast of England to sea to set up illegal radio shows with punk rock as the overarching sound of the experience.


 Fast forward to the age of information technology and you have The Wrong Rock Show hosted by Greg ‘The Hammer’ Donelly and Botha Kruger on Bush Radio 89.5 FM; Mondays at 10PM – 00AM (GMT+02) . TWRS  is part Bush Radio, Africa’s oldest community radio station project, which has foregrounded itself as a ‘fist in the air’ platform for media activists who have sought experimental ways of delivering messages to the audience.


Stationed in Cape Town, a city which prides itself of its international status (all dependent on which side of the mountain you reside), The Wrong Rock Show  pushes the envelope through the ethos of Rock music. Its social media platforms are always riddled with hampers and CD giveaways; these boast both local and overseas talent from acts such as Jozi based Brother Moves On to Canadian rebel rock outfit, Godspeed You. As with any show that wants to survive in the modern age, TWRS  has podcast of previous shows via Mixcloud []. 


The state rock music on radio, especially mainstream, has been source for grandiose debate because of its floundering state. The fire cracker popped when lovers of rock received news of Jon Savage’s sacking from 5FM. The station has since re-incarned him as presenter of a mini feature known as Mash Lab on Rob Vember’s weekly shows. This lack of foresight by major stations where audience preferences are concerned has left minute pockets such as The Wrong Rock Show to pick up the slack.


Another of the show’s winning formulae is to have artists co-hosting (not limited to local musicians) in the wake of their new release or promotions. The mood set assail in studio can be imagined to eerily fit between American shock jock, Howard Stern’s acidic rant and a Nick Cave novels. It irks as much as it is irresistibly pleasurable. The ambivalence in tone creates an eclectic atmosphere which places TWRS  in a league of its own that is to be part of a community radio station but still with sights on the weirdness of sub-cultural undertones elsewhere in the world.


It might be eons since the age of rock playing pirate radio but its spirit lives on like the ashes of Sex Pistol’s Sid Vicious at Heathrow airport’s ventilation pipes, thanks to frequency weirdoes such as The Wrong Rock Show. Like the bastard child that grew to be a guitar strumming outlaw in far off land called Zilleville, Rock music is a mystique that has eluded so many deaths. Wind the knob to Bush Radio’s TWRS to find out why.


For more on The Wrong Rock Show:





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DJ Nutty, orchestrator at Metro FM

Posted by radio On May - 6 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

[By: Kagiso Mnisi]


Putting together a seamless strand of music for a station cannot be underestimated. This especially if the radio station has forged itself a legacy of consistency in giving its listeners the crème de la crème of sounds in R&B, pop and local genres. Such is the task of DJ Nutty, music compiler at Metro FM.


Men and women of his ilk seldomly reap the same rewards as frontline personalities albeit the assurance they propel in creating a narrative of song that accompany commentary. Not one to be caught in rhetoric, our ‘briefy’ over the phone has bits of “there is a lot of bolting and nutting behind the scenes which people are not aware of” and appropriately congratulatory he snipes “what takes place is a breathless process of making sure great music is heard on Metro.” Nutty’s role at Metro is hardly an overreach, he has a backstory with credentials enough to mend an octogenarian’s hip and make anybody’s mamma at will.


The radio play listing game is one of detail and meticulous process, DJ Nutty is the man at the helm of gate keeping submissions (according to Metro’s ethos). The humdrum has it that time and registration protocol of tracks is well within the radio space’s inner workings. The endeavour has relevant stakeholders notified by the end of a working week of the results. As a station that has the LSM 6+ (25 -34) in thrall, Metro FM has a comprehensive policy in its play listing. As ordained by ‘Metro gods’, it stipulates that the music compiler has to liase with other internal players such as the Station/Programme Manager, Traffic Controller, Programme Compiler and presenters. This mass forms the playlist committee. In this regard “being on the ball is key, so is ensuring good communication along the chain”, Nutty says.


The complexity of getting airplay by artist spans from creating a quality product to keeping an eye on emerging trends and the inevitable delicate dance with a station’s compiler. But that demanding road has been walkable in the advent of gadget-age novelties such as iTunes. Where musicians are able to draw music lovers closer without the troubles of a first hear on radio scenario. This warrants more creative interventions by gatekeepers such as DJ Nutty to still make stations a pied piper to listeners through sound. According to Nutty, “Metro FM puts itself at the forefront of what is happening in music worldwide, to give listeners a worldly view as it has always done over the years.” On this ‘worldly view’ other platforms/disruptors have included Spotify, where a range of major and independent record labels have been able to conjure a lightning in a bottle by creating a commercial music streaming service. This service boasts 2.5 million paying users to date.


Nutty’s forms part of a slew of music connoisseurs that have sought the go-beyond-club model.  As the ‘glue’ between jock talk at Metro FM, he by a quirky metaphor, commands an orchestra to be appreciated by urbanites.






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Zama Dube: Young gifted and going places

Posted by radio On May - 6 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

[By: Boitumelo Mmakou]


24 year old Zama Dube is currently one of YFM’s most talented, intellectual, serious yet fun and bubbly presenters who host The Face Off, a vibrant weekday show on the station between 9am-12pm. The beautiful lady was born and raised in Kwamashu township KZN, she moved to Johannesburg to pursue her academic life at Wits University. Despite being an only child Zama is a woman that comes from a big family, with a house hold filled with only women, her mother and late grand-mother who raised her to be the young lady that she is today, including her female cousins, and aunt.


Zama Dube’s love for radio is one she had had from her early teens, ‘I have always loved radio, my cousins and I would always make tape recordings of ourselves doing shows. I also loved to listen to radio, I would wake up early in the morning to listen to some of my favourite shows”, says Zama. At 16 years of age, Zama Dube had heard from friend that her local radio station the Durban Youth Radio was in search of new radio presenters, encouraged by her friend Zama took on this opportunity which marked the beginning of her career in radio.

Zama Dube with Boitumelo at Yfm studios



Before landing the job at YFM, Zama had gained different radio experiences and platforms joined Voice of Wits (VOW) FM  team when she moved to Johannesburg which focused on a niche market and targeted students. Being a part of the university’s campus radio was a great way for her to stay connected to radio. Soon after that Zama was recruited by Yebo radio, a Vodacom  retail store radio station which was her first paying radio gig where Zama got to define her personality, her boldness and confidence.



However, it was after Zama sent in a demo version of the stand in show she had done at 5FM to YFM’s programmes manager, that’s how she joined the Y-world the rest is history. Her time now is committed to YFM, but there is no telling how long she plans to stay there, and whether or not we will hear her on national radio stations any time soon.


“The Face off” is Zama’s pride and joy. The mid-morning show that is on weekdays between 10am till 12 midday, for listeners who may be in the office, on their way to a class, having a break. The show has discussed issues that may help the youth in any kind of way; it is musically driven with features such as ‘Musicology’ which tests the listener’s music knowledge. The show also touches base on some of the social issues concerning the youth with a show segment ‘Monday Matters’, with topics that a crucially tackled. ‘Hot Box’ is a friday segment on Zama’s show that many loyal listeners look forward to get to know artists a bit better, artists that are new or old to the industry from different genres, will take part in an interview where Zama will any question, and listeners encounter a different side of the artists such as their thoughts on politics and the economy. “Of it all, I really enjoy engaging with the people, and having conversation with the audience, for example with the feature ‘My Campus’ is one I am passionate about because I get to meet with students that inspire me and other listeners that listen to the show.



Ms Dube forms a part of the new generation of YFM, and although she has a lot of praises for the first generation of the youth radio stations that includes the likes of Bad Boy T, Lee Kasumba, Dj Fresh and even Dj Sbu, Zama stands firm in knowing that YFM still lives to be a strong and powerful brand no matter the difference and change between the two,”  I think it would be unfair to even compare one from the other, we are now at a different time and space, so much has evolved. At the time when the first generation of YFM were doing radio it was for much more different direction, they were the first voices of the youth culture on radio, it was during a time were young people were trying to define themselves in youth culture. All that has changed, now as the young generation, we have enjoyed the democratic space for longer, our way is different because of that. The YFM brand is one that stands for the youth, and the youth market is ever evolving it’s not stagnate, things will never be the same, they will always be a new generation”, adds Zama.


When it comes to radio Zama is very passionate about the stand of women in radio, it is still very much male dominated, Zama states, female jocks still need to find a place in the industry. “When you think of radio there are more males than males, there is probably one or two females that stand out that have been able to carve their career well, women need to step up”, say’s Zama. For her it is radio personalities such as Gareth Cliff  and former radio personality Dineo Ranaka for their feisty, brave, frank and  confident presenting personalities that Zama finds to be making them the outstanding, she has taken  notice of their radio presenting styles, and thinks highly of them.


Education has always been a big part of her life. She came to Wits to study law, but was always interested in the literature course that came with it, and she decided to pursue that instead. Literature felt like the relationship she had with history back in school, she loved it after completing her undergraduate studies in African literature; Zama continued to study her honours and is currently completing her Master’s degree in African literature. She finds the world of academia a thrill, and acknowledges that her learning experience at Wits University, not only makes her a proud student but as well as a committed scholar to the world of literature. “I have always loved writing, ever since I can remember I was always good at it, I even won awards for writing. When I was still young, I wanted to be a writer, I would excel at my creative writing” states Zama. In future Zama would love to get her hands into more academic work, perhaps go into publishing her own books as well.


Zama has always kept herself busy, she describes herself as not only friendly, but hard working, she has always had hectic schedule with work, academic life and social life all of that is what defines who Zama Dube is. Her enjoyment comes with knowing she always has somewhere to go, and something to do, however, she does give up some of her time to go out with friends on most weekends to have a night filled with fun and relaxation.


From time to time Zama says she loves to watch reality shows such as the Keeping up with the Kardashians, and Here comes Honey Boo Boo, “ A lot of people think I am this serious person, but I do watch normal TV, I love to laugh and have a good time” ,Zama adds.


Her love for media goes beyond just being a radio presenter and writer, Zama’s goal is to eventually start getting into the production side of radio, and have her own broadcasting company and become an expert in that, she would also love to open her own publication company, which makes her a future leading media mogul. “Ultimately I will see where my future takes me, be it a writer or publisher in literature, a teacher or a future producer and media mogul of a broadcasting company. As long as there is something to share with radio and literature world, and as long as she loves what she is doing Zama states she will continue to do what she does, and doing something meaningful be remembered for doing it to the best of her ability.


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A brief word with John Robbie

Posted by radio On April - 28 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

[By: Kagiso Mnisi]


Every weekday morning on Talk Radio 702, we are sure to hear concerns (middle class at most), on gaping potholes and all the other stuff that keep the 7-8 LSM awake at night. The man who has been the conduit to it all these years is John Robbie. His backstory is uncanningly rooted in the field of play as a Rugby scrum half for heavies such as The British Lions; Robbie subsequently made a leap to sports broadcast and then talk radio in 2003. The seasoned morning jock lets Radiobiz in on his well of thoughts about a range of issues from competition with Power FM, cold Guinness and the Protection of State Information Bill


As a former rugby player, can you still tussle its out in any scrum on any given Sunday?


JR: These days I cannot run for a bus. I still love rugby however and am a Lions supporter to the hilt.


What do you appreciate most about being a morning presenter for a talk station?


JR: I get a chance to talk to a large number of people and hopefully inform and entertain them. In the morning many people are hearing about issues for the first time so in a way you get to set the agenda for the day. A huge responsibility.


How do you keep calm and focused when interviewing hot headed


JR: I am much better than in the early days. I have learned that you don’t have to win or convert or correct a guest. You just put the questions and let the audience make up their own minds.


What counts as must reads at the present moment in your life?


JR: I always read as many papers as I can. The Mail and Guardian each week is a must and also the Saturday Star in which I contribute.


A 100% black owned talk station known as Power FM is soon to launch, what do you think this holds for the lay of radio land?


JR: It is great competition for all of us. The more the merrier. We cannot influence them but will have to be as good as we possibly can be on 702 to thrive.


What is an Irish man to do when made to choose between warm Guinness and Johnny Walker Blue?


JR: I drink cold Guinness whenever I can. Mothers’ milk. I would love to be able to afford JWB but prefer a peaty, smoky single malt like Laphroig.


What are your honest sentiments about the looming Protection of State Information Bill?


JR: I am scared. Surely this government should be looking to share as much information as possible with its people instead of burying it? The way changes have had to be fought for at every stage is particularly concerning.


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Independence Day for SABC commercial

Posted by radio On April - 25 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

[By: Kagiso Mnisi]


Can it be?

Deregulation of banks was cited as one of the major contributors to kickstart the domino effect of financial woes in 2008. When major banks around Europe started their crusade for privatization it was open season for major corporations to wheel and deal in outright gluttony for a couple of slices of the pie. As widely ranted about, the buy in by these majors resulted in careless spending of public’s money through dicey derivatives which were really a high-minded way of saying ‘Indeed it’s your cash we are gambling with, but you’d be stupid not to trust us since we have these degrees in economics’. Now with that kind of extrapolation, can SABC’s commercial radios play a similar game where major interest would come from the private sector? Furthermore can it realistically be an entity on its own without any government interference?


Context, closer to home


The commercial radio landscape has vastly improved in the last years. Gone are the days when old formatting had with it a personality in the morning with sides kicks around them, and money in advertising put behind the show. The years of old also had very safe and scientific play lists, weather and traffic for good measure. The ante has been amped to a proportion where brands want to associate themselves with shows that exude a certain kind of character. This of sort happen stance is theoretically fertile for private parties that would want to have a chunk of interest. Commercial radio stations have also positioned themselves in a way that appeases a technologically savvy market by purveying content through non traditional means such as social media which has had forward thinking planners taking advantage.



What of the relationship between the private, labour and government?


During the recent furore surrounding the announcement of a new SABC interim board, the Communication Workers Union reiterated its support for the dissolution of the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) board, saying a new board could bring much needed stability to the broadcaster as well as “transparent, independent” oversight. But observation of recent developments, labour is clearly in contention with government based on its apprehension to back of the current administration for the next elections. And it’s long standing position (well at least at face value depending on its public relations drive at a given time), has been to view capitalism as not equally beneficial to all in the country. This tug of pushing and pulling, creates a rather uncomfortable three way and would clearly amass to an uncontainable bruhaha if sights are set on making SABC commercial a sole entity in its own.


Existence as an independent entity, ideally


For a turn in this ambitious direction, plenty of spot checks would have to be comprehensively adhered to. As a body that would be existing in an ever changing world, SABC commercial would have to adapt to the needs of a cross-section of audiences. Planners at hand would have to be aware that a campaign that works for a brand conscious youthful personality won’t necessarily be received with the same enthusiasm by for instance another young person who is avid church goer. Under a hypothetical SABC commercial stable, stations would have to go beyond Radio Audience Measurements (RAMS) and also encompass brand attributes, unique opportunities in alignment with making the entity have a soul of its own.


The array of ‘sister stations’ existing under the stable would have to strike a synergy that wards off any form of brand fragmentation, there would have to be collaborative feats for this to happen. The bottom line for a potential independent entity is thus: there is no perfect example of a radio entity; it is a medium that constantly requires innovation and courage.


Safe to say, privatizing some of the world’s major financial institutions was novel on paper to foster competition and momentum. But in hindsight the collapse came from unethical and risky operations that did not have the interest of the people at heart. Can SABC commercial prove to be a uniquely South African conception that is totally different to the world’s banks in putting audiences first and still be competitive? Yes, when most of us have long gone and this country has new found scruples by a generation of genuine born frees. Those with soul, vision and courage.



Some of the material on this article was sourced from the below:

Idea Engineers (trends) []

Kagiso Media []

Inside job: defaced, documentary on the financial crisis




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Q&A with Kurara FM’s Refilwe Thobega

Posted by radio On April - 23 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

 [By: Kgomotso Moncho]


Refilwe Thobega is not a popular name and you might not even know who it belongs to. But Refilwe is one of many young broadcasters starting out at community radio stations. If all goes well, she might be a popular name in commercial broadcasting some day. You hardly ever get to hear the side of the story of youngsters starting out and so she opens up about the beginning of her radio career.


How long have you been on air?

I started at Kurara FM on 16 June 2012. So on that day I was celebrating youth day, as well as the beginning of my radio career.


What was your first day like?

Nerve-wrecking and exciting. Fortunately, I was co-hosting with a gentleman called Thabang Loeto, who has immense experience in radio. He put me at ease. After the first thirty minutes I simply eased into it.


What are your impressions of radio?

Radio is powerful. It is personal. Radio is volatile. It is very easy to switch channels. So, as a presenter, you don’t want to lose your listeners. You can’t be too relaxed.  I am still trying to choose which beat to follow, because I am so flexible and diverse. At Kurara FM, so far: I have done the Saturday breakfast show (6h00 – 9h00), I also co-hosted a sports show for a while, I then moved to the weekly afternoon drive slot (15h00 -18h00) and I am currently doing weekdays Sunshine Drive (12h00 -15h00). And people say I would be good at talk radio or news. I’m a big fan of Kgopedi wa Namane and Melanie Bala of Metro FM News.


What kind of environment are you working in?

It’s a new and young community radio station with great potential for growth.


What are the challenges?

It does not pay. Most community radio stations do not pay. Presenters get a stipend. This is where passion comes into play.

I have had moments when I was feeling very low and down, but I had no choice but to go behind the mic.

Listeners don’t care what your story is; they just want to be entertained.

There is no right or wrong way. We all have our own styles. The challenge is trying to figure out what makes you, you. I don’t want to sound like anybody else. It takes a while to find your own voice.

In community radio you have to learn to do everything – researching, producing, presenting, and operating the deck – you do everything. In the beginning I was intimidated by the system and the deck and once I was taught, I realised how easy it is.

The other challenge is dealing with different personalities and egos. People want to be territorial and make you feel like you are not “there” yet. They can make you doubt yourself. There are so many times that I could have simply grabbed my handbag and left. I had to focus and remind myself why I am doing this and where I want to see myself.


What did you do to prepare for your chance in radio?

My preparation goes as far back as 2004 when I did a TV presenting course at the SABC.

I used to go to national radio presenter searches, but was never successful.

While working at an organisation in Pretoria, we had a radio unit and I took a keen interest. I always hung around the radio people and my friend, a sound engineer and a radio producer, working in that unit, would regularly teach me things and she also helped me with recording demos.

After landing the Kurara FM gig, I invested in some great courses. Firstly, I did a radio course with On Cue Communications.  It was very hands-on. We went to Primedia at the studios of Radio 702 and Highveld stereo. We went to SABC radio. We had sessions with the likes of Mo-G and Nonn Botha of Kaya FM, Mark Pilgrim of Highveld Stereo, Sizwe Mabena of Metro FM Sports and so forth. We covered all aspects of on-air presenting: talk radio, news, sportsandstudio DJing techniques.

Secondly, I also went for an individual voice training programme at the Voice Clinic. It was a great eye opener and money well spent. 

GiulianaRansic of E! Entertainment said that: if you want a career in radio and/or TV, having a journalism qualification and/or experience sets you apart. So the journalist in me comes in handy.


What have been some of your experiences?

Ever since I started, I grew up a lot emotionally. I had to have some gusto and courage. I learned to act not on emotions. Radio is so real and live. It is not easy. When you smile your listener “hears” that. And they can also tell when you are “not in the mood”.

A listener once called in and said that I was boring. He would call and make nasty remarks and then hang up. I had to hold my head high and do my thing. I stuck it out.

A friend comforted me by reminding me that when DJ Fresh started out at 5fm he experienced a great deal of hate and nastiness from some of the station’s stereotypical audience. And he now he has them eating out the palm of his hands.

The support at home has also been great. It is a blessing that I started out in radio while I was staying at home with my mom and sister. By the time I move on to bigger stations and challenges I’ll be tougher.


What would you like to achieve in the radio industry?

I have always loved radio. As a young girl, I had this pink walky-talky radio, which had aerials on the head phones. And I had to manually search for a station. It was my most prized possession.

We had those old radios called Hi-fis. My late dad would pluck things and connect things up and make me speak on the mic. I could not even talk properly at the time. And he tape-recorded such incidents.

I just want to grow, develop my own voice and my own brand – to know what I stand for and what I’m all about.


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Damon Beard: the man of many talents

Posted by radio On April - 15 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

[By: Kgomotso Moncho]


Damon Beard wears many hats: a presenter, producer, author and motivational speaker and he wears them all stylishly with charm, humility and wit. To his listeners he’s a sweetheart.

He is the executive producer and co-presenter of the afternoon drive show on East Coast Radio; he’s a popular speaker; a regular in the corporate circuit and an author of the best selling book, Powerlunch Riddles. 

His background in travel and journalism add to his profile. Beard is a qualified pilot and journalist and he’s been in radio since 1991.

His story about how he ended up in the industry best exemplifies the notion of being at the right place at the right time and the adage that “you find your destiny on the road you take to avoid it.”


 “I was involved in the travel industry at the time and I was at an event with a friend of mine talking to Grade 12’s about the Pro’s and Con’s of travelling right after finishing school. I was approached and asked to do an audition which I turned down.  When I was asked again, I went along but didn’t really give it my best shot. I remember doing the audition hoping the guy who asked me would stop bugging me to try out for radio. I guess everything happens for a reason though and 22 years down the line, I still love what I do,” he says.


And in that 22 years of experience he has gone on to do some great things, which have made him get under the skin of his followers. He started The Big Favour feature on East Coast Radio 10 years ago when a listener called in and asked him if he could help her with a bus ticket to Cape Town to go see her dying mom. Beard arranged the ticket and this sparked an idea.


“I started thinking, ‘I wonder how many other people I can help.’ That’s how it started and since then, we’ve built people houses, done lifesaving operations and even helped animals. It’s hugely rewarding and every week I marvel at the generosity of people in our province for those in need,” he explains.


His radio ideas also gave birth to his best selling book, Powerlunch Riddles.  He had a feature on his then lunch time show where he’d give a riddle on air and listeners would call in with an answer. This got so popular that he decided to write a book based on the idea. What is at the heart of his motivational speaking is a passion to inspire his audience and help them believe they can be anything they want to be.


“I did my pilot’s license because I had an unbelievable fear of flying. In fact the fear was so bad I couldn’t even go to an airport, so when I’m talking on ‘overcoming your fears’ the content comes from a compassion in my heart, because I know exactly what it’s like to be scared of something,” he reveals.

With all his experience, Beard remains humble, laid back and exudes a sense of being comfortable in his own skin. He has got nothing to prove. You can feel this on his afternoon show on East Coast Radio, where he somewhat leads from the back, letting his team shine.


“I think a presenter who’s true to him/herself and who’s true to their audience is a great asset to a radio station. What’s also very important is a tight, trustworthy, open and honest team. When there’s a ‘vibe’ of any sort, listeners can pick it up immediately,” he points out.


When asked about some of his greatest moments on air, it becomes hard to pick just one. He’s been lucky enough to interview some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry, including MC-ing a Celine Dion concert.


“My whole career has been my greatest moment,” he beams.  






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[By: Kgomotso Moncho]

Bruce Hong is the content producer for the 567 Cape Talk Breakfast Show with Kieno Kammies. He is a finalist in the Content Producer for Commercial Radio category in the MTN Radio Awards, along with other producers from 5FM, OFM and 94.7 Highveld Stereo.

This is the first time he’s entered the competition as a producer and the first time he’s made it to the finals. But this is not the first time for the show. It has been entered before when it was presented by Aden Thomas.

Hong studied at Wits University and joined their campus radio, Voice of Wits in 1992. After graduating in 1994, he went to his first job interview which was not successful.  He rang up Radio 702 who took him. After 5 years at 702 he took a break and went to London on a holiday visa where he did some accounting work. He came back to South Africa and settled in Cape Town in 2001 and joined 702’s sister station, 567 Cape Talk. He talks to Radiobiz about the thrill of chasing a story and where his love of radio comes from.

What makes the breakfast show you produce on 567 Cape Talk stand out?


We try to make a difference by either speaking to the most senior people in charge and who are able to effect change, but we also make ourselves available to help out the ordinary person who gets stuck because of red tape and so forth. We believe that if we show people how things can be done, they will take the initiative and be more bold themselves.


What appeals to you about talk radio?


On so many different levels, we can reach people emotionally, and get them to share their thoughts and their stories.


What do you hope to contribute with what you do?


By getting people to talk to each other and share their stories on our show, people will eventually realise how similar we all are underneath our different exterior shells, and we can all get along better that way. On the other hand, we can also share some of the challenges that others face that we might not be aware of ourselves, and this too can lead to better relationships


When I google you, there’s a trending of your Oscar Pistorius bedroom bathroom 3D walkthrough video. Please talk to me about that, and working on that particular story.


 I wasn’t happy with the little facts we had coming out about the shooting and there was so much speculation about what might have happened in the early hours of February 14, and every person was already forming a conclusion in their head. I asked my colleagues in Gauteng to apply to get the design plans of the house (from relevant town planning office) so that we could provide a graphic so that people knew what we were dealing with. I then suggested to them that there is software available that allows one to draw up a 3D mock-up of his house.

They e-mailed me the image presented in court. It wasn’t the whole house, just the main bedroom and bathroom, but it was a start. I got home late from a family dinner and went straight into the project. I probably had the project 95% complete in a few hours and took it to the office the next morning.


In between my duties as producer, I spoke to the online department as to how we could load it up as a video, as the software did not have an export function. We only managed to find some software later that day and it took awhile to get it to a decent level, because the two programs just were not working ideally. I felt the time pressure because Sky News had used the same plans to draw up a static 3D image, and the BBC was planning to do what I did. On Friday morning, I managed to load my video to YouTube before our show started, and then we spread the word via social media. Within 24 hours I had something like 22 000 views and it was also used on other websites such as 2oceansvibe, IOL and Radio Jacaranda!

My next plan is to build a scale model of his bedroom in the spare area we have in Cape Town, so that presenters can walk through it themselves and literally get a sense of distance etc.


What other stories have you enjoyed working on, and which have made an impact on you?


I enjoy the thrill of the chase – I think all producers do – so when we get on big name personalities for the first time, I feel like I’ve achieved something. I remember when the movie Apollo 13 came out, I decided it would be great to track down Jim Lovell, the actual astronaut who was on board that fateful mission. He was impressed that we were interested in his story and obliged!

Then there are the human interest stories that affect our listeners. A few months back, we received a message from a listener that told us a family member’s 3 year old daughter was caught in the cross-fire of gangsters. She had about 6 bullets in her and survived. We try to speak to the mom as often as we can to remind us that this is the sad reality some members of our communities have to live with.


What has your work revealed to you about South Africa?
People think we (in the media) thrive on the doom-and-gloom, and that’s far from the truth. We celebrate the great that is within us all and try to spread this message. Despite the many challenges we face, we need to realise there are others a lot worse off than what we think, and that many of them still cling on the vision that things will get better. If we can take that vision for ourselves, we can get very far. I’m glad to be a part of the process.


What has working on radio taught you?


Resourcefulness!  I come from an era when there was no internet, twitter nor Facebook, and had to use directory-enquiry services locally and internationally to find guests! I often sound like an old-man when I tell new producers how they give up too soon when they can’t locate a guest!


It’s amazing how much knowledge one gains by working on radio that I often have to keep quiet at gatherings for fear of being deemed a know-it-all.



Are there things you’d still like to achieve within the radio industry?


I’d like to mentor more producers and give them lessons in how to work smartly, as they sometimes get frustrated after just a few attempts.



Anything you’d like to add?


I grew up (in the late 70s and early 80’s) with older siblings listening to the radio all the time, and so it was a part of my life as well. I enjoyed the warmth it gave me when listening to quiz shows, comedies, music and such.  My mother, an immigrant from China, had a short wave radio that she would use each afternoon to listen to a Taiwan-based radio station that broadcast in Cantonese for an hour or so each day. It meant so much to her.

There are many people like that still out there, and I feel like  I’m helping them stay in touch with the world with what I do – no matter which show I work with.



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