On: Julie Adenuga

As Beats 1 turns 3 this month, Helen Herimbi speaks to Julie Adenuga about music, Manthe and social media When Julie Adenuga hops on the phone, I am unprepared for how much she sounds just like she does on the radio. The Beats 1 DJ, who is known for being a champion of grime, West African stars, bald-headed girls across the globe, and shedding light on burgeoning acts through her UK Represent segment, speaks fast and laughs a lot. On the eve of the 24-hour online radio, streamed through Apple Music, celebrating three years since its inception, the Nigerian-British DJ had just come back from Nigeria, where her brothers Skepta and JME had hosted the Boy Better Know homecoming event. A week later, Skepta was performing in Johannesburg, but Adenuga did not make the trip. “I didn’t know they were going to South Africa until I got home and I was very sad about that,” she says in her signature fast speech. “Everyone has told me that South Africa is amazing and I’m annoyed I haven’t been there yet.” But that doesn’t mean she hasn’t been keeping up with artists in Mzansi. “Manthe Ribane,” Adenuga quickly says when I ask her who she likes. “She’s probably the first South African artist I met, and she blew me away. I haven’t met anyone like her since. I have sat and watched her videos for hours.” Adenuga is passionate about music. After dropping out of university, she worked at an Apple iStore and subsequently talked her way into hosting a show on the then pirate radio station, Rinse FM, in 2010. She moved up to hosting drive time, and in 2015, she was head-hunted to stand alongside America’s Ebro Darden and New Zealand’s Zane Lowe to be the faces of the new streaming station, Beats 1. She tells me about the hiring process. “I have a screenshot on my phone actually,” she says. “It’s of a random message from a guy called Warren. He’d sent it through my contact page on a website that I’d built. The message said something like: ‘Hi, Read More …

On: Lady D

Ahead of being inducted into the Liberty Radio Awards Hall of Fame this weekend, Dudu ‘Lady D’ Khoza speaks to Helen Herimbi “You were not even born then,” says Dudu “Lady D” Khoza. She’s giggling between every sentence she speaks. The veteran radio jock and community builder who was raised in the Umlazi township of KwaZulu-Natal’s laughter is infectious. “You were not born when we were listening to Lourenço Marques Radio and I was still very young,” she tells me. “I used to love the music. And then I started listening to Ukhozi FM – it was called Radio Bantu back then. I loved the female presenters – maybe because of the kind of content they presented – people like Winnie Mahlangu and others.” “I’d tune into the teenage programmes on weekends and I used to love the content and music, but I never thought I would be one of the people on radio. But my love for radio started there. Since then, there was no other station than Radio Bantu that I listened to. It was only when the honourable Koos Radebe introduced Radio Metro that I started having a second station to listen to. Right up to now, those are the two stations I listen to.” Khoza’s loyalty runs deep. She has spent all 25 years of her career in radio on air at Radio Bantu, which became Radio Zulu and is now known as Ukhozi FM. She was even a part of the team that came up with the station’s current name. While the airwaves are entrenched in her life now, it wasn’t always that way. She got a University of Zululand scholarship to study to become a librarian, but her mom couldn’t afford the amenities that weren’t covered by the scholarship. Prompted by the dire financial situation at home, Khoza took a gap year and a teaching post, which ultimately led her to study nursing. “In nursing, I was a bright star and forgot that I was so afraid of blood,” she laughs. In attempts to stay away from working night duty, Khoza studied a diploma Read More …

On: Ebro

One of three faces of Beats 1, Ebro Darden speaks to Helen Herimbi about radio, rap and relating to the world It’s silly, but I am still expecting it. The Black Beats headphones with a gold ‘b’ on each side and the African continent outlined in gold on them. Maybe slung around his neck. Or even on his ears. But when I answer Ebro Darden’s FaceTime call, he’s wearing his signature fitted cap and his lush salt-and-pepper beard matches his accented A Bathing Ape jacket. No headphones. No worries, though. He’s probably keeping them safe since the only people in the world who have this particular pair of exclusive custom headphones are him and British boxer Anthony Joshua. “There was one pair made for him,” Ebro tells me. “It was a special pair made for him. I saw them, and I was like: ‘yo! I need those!’ So they made me a pair. But they didn’t make more. Hopefully, there are conversations taking place to make more because there are major things happening on the African continent.” Over the past few years, Ebro, as he is simply known, has made a name for himself as the perpetually grumpy guy that the breakfast show on prolific New York radio station, Hot 97, is named after. But three years ago, he managed to become known worldwide, and not just by hip-hop heads, when he was announced as one of three faces of Beats 1 Radio. Ebro, along with Julie Adenuga and Zane Lowe, became a part of a trio that spearheaded the cool that Apple was looking to sell through taking traditional radio formats and flipping them on their heads through streaming. “I felt like it was home right away because there was no precedent for it,” he tells me. “It was whatever we made it. It’s our team, and it felt comfortable right away. We continue to stay hyper focused on our role within the ecosystem of Apple Music –which is to bring context to and find the music and communicate around the world to different areas. What’s become more evident Read More …

I’m on Peak Time!

This is a piece of my vision board. My vision board – my wishlist to the Universe even when I’m not sure how to work to achieve what’s on the list – has been up on my wall since the beginning of the year. As you see in the picture, there is a Red Bull Radio studio environment in the mix. That’s what I put out to the Universe. I wanted to become the first African with their own show on Red Bull Radio. Yesterday, I was a guest on Peak Time, a popular Red Bull Radio show. And I was talking about my favourite thing: South African music. To me, my vision board wish has been realised in a way. And I am so, so grateful. I speak about the power of the vision board all the time. If you’ve been waiting for it, here’s your sign. Just start your own vision board. Create it today. Yes, we’ve just started the second quarter of the year but that just means you’re right on time to start something new. Create it. Put it where you can see it every day – mine is where I moisturise my body so I have long enough to look at it and I often say what’s on it out loud. The Universe has got you. Sure, I’m not the first African with their own Red Bull Radio show yet. But, if it’s meant for me, there’s still time to achieve that milestone.

On: Ayanda MVP

Hustle in silence. Let your success be the noise. These words are strewn over the side of Ayanda MVP’s T-shirt and, in a sense, they mirror the radio and club DJ’s trajectory. Born Phindile Ayanda Mdluli, this 26-year-old has been working away in the broadcast arena without getting caught up in the trappings of instant fame. “Of course you can sit there,” she flashes me a smile and motions for me to take a seat next to her as she steers an incredibly intimidating desk into the airwaves. “This is my good, non-face-beat side,” she laughs referring to her make-up free face. She’s relatable like that. You can catch her 947 shows every weekday and even on Saturday. This weekend, she will attend her first 947 Huawei Joburg Day and she’s got some tips to share. “The biggest thing for a first-timer is to come with your squad,” she tells me after her show. “Don’t come alone. And once you have your squad ready, you need to make sure you experience the day from the get-go, so get there early.” Tunes mean a lot to the tall DJ, who studied at the National School of the Arts and then took a gap year to audition for musicals. While getting on stage to sing didn’t pan out the way she’d hoped, Ayanda MVP didn’t complain. She hustled in silence and figured she’d study languages and then psychology and criminology at the University of Pretoria. “This career was not the plan,” she admits. “I was just on campus during orientation week and I saw a stand with a radio and a mic, but I’d never tried radio before.” She became a Tuks FM DJ and “that was the best two-and-a-half years of my life on campus”. After Tuks, she started at YFM where her distinctive deep voice, coupled with catchphrases like “molifeng” – meaning “in this life” – and her charismatic on-air persona established her as a fave. But there was also the big, red, natural hair. I ask her if she felt pressure to change her hair because she is no Read More …

On: Wilson B Nkosi

As a part of The Love Movement, which revolutionised the way South African weekend radio is programmed, Wilson B Nkosi became the Voice of Sunday. As he celebrates 30 years on air, he reflects on his journey and specifically, how it runs parallel to the iconic Metro FM which became a bastion for urban music in Mzansi before and after apartheid. The station celebrates its birthday through an event called the Summerlife Festival this weekend. How did your relationship with music begin? I was born in Mpumalanga, but days later, we moved back to Swaziland where I spent my formative years. In boarding school, I was grounded all the time because I would stay up and listen to music inthrough my headphones long after the prefects had told us to switch off everything off. I couldn’t sing to save my life, but it’s not by default that I’m doing what I’m doing. How did you get into radio? I wrote to the SABC to ask for a job as a broadcaster. At the time, there was Springbok Radio. They responded by saying there’s nothing happening there at ?the moment so I should try Radio Swazi – which is Ligwalagwala FM now. I know beggars can’t be choosers, but I told them: “No, I want to be on Springbok Radio”. In 1986, I received a letter saying the SABC would be launching Radio Metro and that I should audition. I didn’t have a demo. I had never even seen the inside of a radio studio before! I was 19 years old and I made arrangements to come to Johannesburg. I auditioned and I have to assume they liked what they heard because I am still here. What were those first Metro years like? I was a part of the Dream Team. You had Treasure Tshabalala, Lawrence Dube, Timothy Modise, Shado Twala, Sheila D, Lucky Ntuli. And some no-name brand from Swaziland (laughs). It’s a blessing and a privilege to have been a part of that. It was the team to beat. Did the Dream Team believe Radio Bop was the competition? Read More …

On: Fix Moeti

South African-born world traveller Fikile “Fix” Moeti is making a comeback to radio. She spoke to Helen Herimbi about home, hair and the hustle. Memories don’t live like people do/Baby, don’t forget me, I’m a travelling man/Moving through phases, space and time, I’ve got a lot of things I’ve got to do/But God willing I’m coming back to you. Way before he changed his name to Yasiin Bey, Mos Def rapped and sang those words on top of a DJ Honda instrumental and Travelling Man became a hip hop classic. Fikile Moeti, better known to the public as Fix, may not have had anything to do with that song, but she sure lives like a Travelling Man. “I love South Africa,” she tells me, “and you know what? When you’re away from home, you become the proudest patriot of your life. Like, if anyone dares to say anything about South Africa, I’d be like: ‘What are you talking about? South Africa is the best country in the world’. I guess you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.” But don’t cry for Fix, Argentina. Fresh from more than a year spent abroad, the multimedia maven has announced that she will be returning to 5FM on April 1. In the year she spent studying business entrepreneurship in Chicago and then a few courses at New York University in their summer, Fix didn’t attempt to be a radio jock. “I thought about being a campus radio DJ, but I was really enjoying the entrepreneurship gig and I was focusing my life around that. With radio, you have to tie yourself down, but I needed a break. The point of going out there is to explore. But I missed it,” she says introspectively. “That’s the truth. I missed it. Radio and TV will always be my number one. I love, love, love, love, love it!” When she returns to 5FM at the top of next month, Fix will be a contributor to a weekend breakfast show (9am to noon) that will be anchored by Rob Forbes. “I’ll be a contributor,” she explains. Read More …

On: YFM’s legacy

“We were young lions then, and children of kwaito,” utters Sibusiso “The General” Nxumalo – YFM’s first Music Manager. But now, 10 years after YFM’s inception, the children aren’t the only ones who’ve grown up. The General spoke to Helen Herimbi about the radio station that pioneered the kwaito movement. When YFM first went on air in 1997, it was clear that it would become a force to be reckoned with. After all, it was the only station that catered specifically for the youth and prided itself on playing kwaito music. The General shares: “The youth needed broader representation. Radio Metro was the only station for urbanised black people, but it wasn’t catering for the young market. Kwaito wasn’t played on Metro and that music needed a platform.” And so a group of friends brought the YFM dream to fruition and invited The General to be a part of it. He explains: “I ran a club, Politburo, and the core group who went to the IBA (Independent Broadcasting Authority) to propose the YFM idea, used to come there. The day they got the licence from the IBA the place was packed. Suddenly Dirk (Hartford) leaned over a tequila and said to me: ‘How would you like to be the Music Manager at Y?’“ Six months later, Politburo folded because, The General says: “I was giving away too many tequilas and drinking too many of them.” And he had a new job lined up. YFM took shape in Bertrams and, because the target audience was the young, black person, it was “a convenient and logical home for Y.” Also because, “the original ethos of Y was that it was to be a revolutionary voice of the post-’76 radical youth. It was way beyond house music and was political, albeit funky.” He continues: “But the move to The Zone tore most of us apart.” Some might argue that this move was proof of the station‘s prosperity and widening audience exposure beyond the township. According to The General: “That’s not where we’d imagined this conscious radio station to be, it seemed to have moved past Read More …