Afternoon Drive shows in Gauteng have seen a make-over in the last year with renewed focus and attention to this part of the day.

Ashraf Garda facilitated a conversation between Greg Aldridge and Luck du Plesis from 947, Thando Thabethe from 5fm, Moeti Tsiki from Metro FM, Ndumiso Ngcobo and Kgomotso Matsunyane from Kaya FM about how they are navigating Afternoon Drive slots.

Having been fired from Kaya FM before in 2010 for doing what Ndumiso calls a show that was ahead of its time in its political robustness on what was then a breakfast show. The political landscape wasn’t ready for voices that spoke truth to power particularly on prime slots, says Ndumiso Ngcobo. “As black radio practitioners we have embraced the ability to criticize the government and they certainly push the envelope.

The two met days after Kgomotso read Ndumiso’s blog on Thought Leader and immediately went on to read his books. She says she fell in love with his mind and got in touch with him. With Kgomotso coming from television and film production and Ndumiso in writing, Kgomotso notes that “the show works because we are not typically radio people so we don’t have much respect for the rules.”

“We are actually proud of the fact that we have most of the BCCSA complaints in the station. It is because we are pushing the envelope but we are also invested in doing so responsibly, says Kgomotso.

As a former editor for O Magazine, Kgomotso also notes that one key thing she learnt from Oprah Winfrey which she applies in her radio career is that by sharing your stories of tragedy you give permission for other people to do the same. As a result, they have moments on the show where they share their own personal stories as a way of relating and making it easier for listeners to relate and share their own stories. It’s this approach of bringing the self to the airwaves that both Kgomotso and Ndumiso believe to be key to making the show the success that it is.

Greg Aldridge from 947, says he and Lucky du Plesis, replaced someone who had been on the air for a decade and were mandated to play more music and get people home in a better mood. On the question of being nice on-air versus pushing the envelope and the listener. Greg says that their approach is about purposefully relating to people by being authentic and keeping it light-hearted.

Thando Thabethe from 5 FM believes that the four-man show works because they all we hang even outside work, “what we do is an extension of that and it hardly feels like work” she adds. Although they met through the work, they have come to form bonds that extend outside the outside which makes hosting the show a delightful experience of witnessing friends on the airwaves. “At the end of the day you want people to walk away from a show feeling like they have experienced something,” she adds.

The sentiment throughout all the panellists is that all of them are concerned with producing create content and aren’t as driven by getting the numbers. There’s a sense that numbers come when one has found a winning formula that draws listeners to great content. “We value listeners who are open to the content that we do, for me, it is also about the variety of listeners that make creating the content worthwhile. Knowing that a taxi driver and a gallery owner can both be listening to our show is priceless for me,” says Kgomotso.

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(Edited by Simbarashe Honde)