South Africa’s biggest breakfast show is broadcast nationwide from the Eastern Cape daily on UMhlobo Wenene FM.

The breakfast team, Phiwe (Pastor) Nozewu, Mafa Bavuma and Mluleki Ntsabo led by programme manager, Siyanda Fikelepi explained how they offer listeners a sense of belonging that keeps them rooted to their culture within a modern context. The team took the listenship from 400 000 to a monstrous 2.9 million listeners.

After the infamous departure of the main host, Putco Mafani, the team had to rebuild and develop a new clear strategy. The programming approach comprised of an “incremental” approach of not replacing Mafani with a new voice but rather use the same established team to take the show to greater heights. Fikelepi says “the team is led by incredible team spirit, clear lines of protocol and constant communication”.

They have kept core values around language and culture. They consider themselves to being custodians of IsiXhosa. For example, they have Spelling Bee and Idioms features that are overseen by a language (Xhosa) expert, Dr Ruby Zawuka from the Nelson Mandela University.

Nozewu says “it is important to know who you are speaking to, do not speak over your listeners regardless of their socio-economic status”. Ntsabo and Bavuma added that they try by all means to “do everything in a unique way, including how they report sport and the weather”.  “We are trying to make Xhosa cool and fashionable”, said Nozewu.

Part of their success is getting the assistance of the listeners to drive their content development strategy. Fikelepi went on to make example of how after much struggle on a getting the masterminds of cash transit heist interview; the team finally got captivating content from a listener serving sentence in prison called them about cash transit heist. An interview that gained much traction from government officials, in which they had to protect their source.

Bulali Dyakopu

(Edited by Simbarashe Honde)