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Cam Modisane
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702 too white

13 June 2013, 19:30

I am young black South African in my mid 20s and I am avid talk radio listener. I listen to talk radio in my car; in the office while I work using my phone; and at home. I normally surf between Talk Radio 702, SAFM, MetroFM Talk and Kaya FM Talk during the day.

Talk Radio 702 portrays itself as an independent station, free of interference unlike the SABC. The fact of the matter is that Talk Radio 702 is not “independent” at all. Due to the fact that they have “lily white” presenters during prime time with a dash of “dark chocolate” i.e. Redi Tlhabi says this very well.

The presenter that you put on air will ultimately drive the tone; approach; direction and including their political ideologies of a radio station. When  you listen to Talk Radio 702 from Ray White on  “Early Breakfast” right through to John Webb on “Talk at Night” the same tone is carried through out with no diversity.

Frankly, they make it appear as if there is a plurality of views when there is really none. The news papers in SA are mostly working with the DA and attacking the ANC this includes Talk Radio 702 as well.

Talk Radio 702 is completely different from a talk show hosted on Metro FM. If you listen to Sakina Kamwendo’s show on Metro FM and you compare her tone with that of Talk Radio 702 you get a completely different picture.  There is less ANC bashing on MetroFM Talk. In fact, any criticism of the ANC you hear there is mostly constructive while when you listen to Talk Radio 702 you get the impression “Swaart Gevaar” i.e. beware of the black ANC government.

No matter how much John, David, Stephen and company try to “sugarcoat” it; these guys are clearly against a black led government.

Metro FM is a predominately a black radio station with a number of black listeners. Talk Radio 702 too has majority black listeners and not necessarily a “white radio station”. But it has failed to transform with the times and remains irrelevant in 2013 with the continued lined up that it has. 

For any radio station to remain relevant in 2013, it needs to reflect public opinion. i.e. what does the man on  the street think. Talk Radio 702 is currently not doing that. Talk Radio 702 has had the same line up with John Robbie, David O’Sullivan and Jenny Crwys-Williams for almost the past 10 years spewing the same rhetoric.

Do not get me wrong guys like John Robbie, David O’Sullivan, Bruce Whitfield are extremely talented and know their job very well.  I am not questioning their ability and capability of asking questions, handling interviews, content etc but their direction and ideologies around how they view and perceive South Africa is the same. Therefore they remain irrelevant.

Just like the ANC, Talk Radio 702 does not have a succession plan to bring about a new breed of talented presenters to take the station forward. The ANC is failing today because it does not have a well planned out and executed succession plan. The succession plan that existed was the transition from Nelson Mandela to Thabo Mbeki; after that everything became chaotic within the ANC and fell apart. Hence we have a leader like Jacob Zuma leading the ANC today; it is because of that failed succession plan.

Same applies to Talk Radio 702, with the emergence of Power FM; the management of Talk Radio 702 was left scrambling out of ideas. They now “stole” black talent from the SABC i.e. Xolani Gwala to beef up and darken their lineup which had become glaringly irrelevant. Sadly, that is too little too late.

Primedia released a statement on 12 June 2013, that they are bringing Xolani Gwala currently with SAFM to present the drive time show to replace veteran journo David O’Sullivan. Talk Radio 702 was NEVER and had no intentions of ever changing their lineup. This changed simply because of the emergence of Power FM as they saw them as a threat to their current audience ratings, especially their black listenership.

Contrary to popular belief the majority of Talk Radio 702 listeners are black. Most of these listeners will eventually “migrate” to Power FM simply because they will easily identify with the presenters there first of all; secondly it will because of the ideologies and tone that a radio station like Power FM which will be “empowered”.

Unlike most companies that appear to be “EMPOWERED”; Power FM is truly empowered with black talent and not just “window dressing”.

Talk Radio 702 failure of a succession plan has resulted them in trying to poach from outside. This is very typical of what corporate South Africa does.  Talk Radio 702 does have black presenters like Aubrey Masango, Shaka Sisulu, Lupi Ngcayisa, Nambitha Mpumlwana etc but these people are subjected to broadcast to the “dead” doing a graveyard shift between 00:00-04:00am.

Again, this is typical of corporate South Africa with placing black employees at the bottom of the corporate ladder while their “white stars” shine during prime time slots.

Talk Radio 702’s current “lily white” lineup with a touch of black is as follows:

·         04:00-06:00|Ray White

·         06:00-09:00|John Robbie

·         09:00-12:00| Redi Tlhabi (touch of black to create smokes and mirrors)

·         12:00-13:00| Stephen Grootes

·         13:00-16:00|Jenny Cryws-Williams

·         16:00-18:00|David O’Sullivan

·         18:00-20:00| Bruce Whitfield

·         20:00-21:00|Udo Carelse (touch of coloured to create smokes and mirrors)

·         21:00-00:00|John Webb

Now here is a radio station that claims to be “independent” but completely far from what it aspires to be and represent. Talk Radio 702’s agenda remains white and irreverent simply based on the “talent they dish out to us” as listeners.  Only 2 out of 9 presenters on Talk Radio 702’s prime time slot are people of colour while the rest are as white as snow.  Do you honestly think the views of Ooms like John Robbie, David O’Sullivan and a tannie like Jenny Crwys-Williams are still relevant in SA or Gauteng for that matter in the year 2013?

South Africa is a very young country. The average age of South Africans is 25 years. This is according to the recent census survey which was conducted and published in October 2012. South Africa’s black middle class has more than doubled over the last eight years according to new research by the UCT Unilever Institute of Strategic Marketing. Growing from 1.7 million South Africans in 2004 to an estimated 4.2 million in 2012, the black middle class now exceeds the number of white people in the same income bracket. 

These “black diamond’s” have a combined spending power of R400 billion compared to the R380 billion of its white counterpart. Increasing numbers of this black middle class will continue to be interested in talk radio which relate to affairs of this country.

 White people in general are largely ignorant about the thinking that prevails at grass roots level in the black communities. On top of that they often have amnesia about what happened in the past always telling us to “forget about the past and move forward”. Just because Talk Radio 702 does not have the likes of Dan Roodt on their lineup does not mean they don’t hold the views that nationalists like Dan Roodt hold.

It shows by their lack of grooming black talent to be in their prime time slot. Talk Radio 702 has no excuse for not having more black presenters on their prime time.  They are just not interested much like corporate SA will cry foul and claim that there aren’t enough “educated, experienced and skilled” AA candidates to place on key strategic positions within an organization.

Many of us “darkies” will be switching to Power FM as we are not represented currently on Talk Radio 702.  It may not happen instantaneously but over time majority of darkies like me who love talk radio will switch over to Power FM as we have been longing for such a medium that represent us and can relate to as well. Talk Radio 702 can continue to be the media wing of the opposition-DA against the black ANC government.

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