[By: Kgomotso Moncho-Maripane]
There’s something to be said about the way Tshepo Kgapane reached out to Radiobiz and asked to be profiled on the platform to launch himself as a new YFM presenter. It shows initiative and an understanding of the industry and the environment on which he operates. It’s an exemplary model on which other youth can draw on to be as pro-active about their goals and aspirations.
At 24 Kgapane, aka, Dj@Large, who is also a Wits BComm Law graduate, is clear about wanting to grow his name into a brand that symbolizes a culture of being original, bold and different. He’s been clever about carving a route that will take him there and he credits education for informing his decisions.
“Education plays a big role. When you’re new, you have to put yourself out there. And that’s what radio is about – putting yourself out there with hopes to connect with people. I apply this philosophy to life as well,” he says.
As one of the new voices of YFM since April 2015, Kgapane is the host of the weekend show, Stoep 992 (Saturday and Sunday, 6 -9pm) – dubbed as the official pre party and liftoff to the weekend. He notes that it’s rare for YFM to hire a radio personality outside their Y-Academy talent pool and give them a premium slot, and not a graveyard shift. This says a lot about his caliber. YFM is his entry into the commercial radio space. He had been with Voice of Wits (VOW) FM since 2011 which was his school on radio.
“I learnt everything from radio presenting; content producing, voice-overs to the technicalities of radio and how to connect with the listener,” he says.
But campus radio and commercial radio are two different entities. He explains further, “The beauty of campus radio is that in learning, you get to do everything. You get to know who you are and build your personality. You’re also comfortable speaking to your peers. With commercial radio, you never know who’s going to call. YFM targets a demographic of youth from 18 to 29, but I have had a caller who was 37 years old. This speaks to the unpredictability of radio which I resonate with.”
It’s been repeated by radio heads that radio has to be in your blood. For Kgapane, it all goes back to what professional speaker, Tony Gaskins says about finding the signs of your calling in your childhood. From as far back as he can remember, Kgapane has always been surrounded by the medium. With his father being a music promoter, they were always around radio and music.
“I’d be upset to get out of the school taxi every morning, because I’d get off before Fresh’s show on YFM was over,” he reminisces.
The times of the Fresh generation at YFM were pivotal. Fresh with the likes of Paul “Rude Boy” Mnisi and Thomas “Bad Boy T” Msengana, were the first wave of presenters that launched YFM. It was the dawn of post-apartheid South Africa, black youth now had a voice and they used platforms like radio, music and fashion to express their views. Those early years informed the blueprint of YFM. Kgapane believes the DNA of the station has somewhat altered. He elaborates, “YFM is now a hybrid catering to an urban middle class and a township crowd. It’s trying to balance itself and it takes a very intelligent presenter right now to relate to Sandton and Alex.”
He seems to have the smarts to cater to both audiences. His charm is in how he can relate to the man on the street, but be able to deliver intelligent and well thought out content. The name of his show for starters lends itself to the township saying, “Stoep si ya phi?” – slang for, “Where is the party?” He also has features on the show like Cocktail 101 where listeners get to share their unique home-made cocktails; and the Y-Dictionary where listeners create their own words to form a new kind of dictionary. The latter is becoming a culture and it could be monumental.
This is Kgapane’s contribution to radio thus far and through the medium he hopes to be a representation of a new wave of talent and youth. And what is this new wave of radio talent doing different?
“We’ve lost the ability to connect and relate to the listener. Khabzela historically garnered a listenership of 6 million on his own. This needs to come back. What has happened instead is a lot of pressure in radio stations to conform to what is cool at the moment. In the last three years we have seen people who are not in the radio fraternity leap into radio. Talent was not considered. It was who you are that mattered. I want to bring back being real to radio. As long as we’re not being real, radio is not going anywhere. This is the challenge to the new wave of radio talent. And I believe I’m doing my part in rising to that challenge,” Kgapane asserts.
Take a listen to what goes down during his show: