Chit Chat: Kay Sexwale

2012-02-10 14:15

How did you end up on 702?
I needed a change from mainstream corporate work and opted to consult in my area of expertise, namely media, marketing and communications. I thought corporate was the problem, but a drastic career refinement was what I needed, so I joined Primedia Broadcasting in February 2011.
Radio complements my previous experience. This allows me to do radio almost effortlessly in terms of the behind-the-scenes preparation, which takes far longer than the three hours I am on air.

What are the major challenges of talk radio?
The interview segments on the show I currently host are an hour long. I used to think that a 10-minute interview dealt sufficiently with an issue, but now an hour often seems too short.

What are the joys of talk radio?
Reaching out and touching people. I love the fact that I can help make a difference to society and be an agent of change without joining politics. The huge responsibility of hosting a talk show is not lost on me. I have come to realise that as a public commentator, some people take what I say as fact or authoritative commentary. It is important to say when one is voicing an opinion and when one is talking fact.

Would you describe yourself as a motormouth?
Without a doubt, though every day I try to improve my listening skills.

What is the listening audience like? Are they argumentative, challenging, difficult, passive?

They are all of the above. But the majority of them are kind and have a generosity of spirit that touches my heart daily. Many listeners of the Early Breakfast slot have moved with me to the new slot, and I am grateful for their vote of confidence.

What are the topics you enjoy tackling on your show?

I love human interest issues and entertainment, but come alive when tackling sociopolitical issues that affect our daily lives.

There are not many Sexwales in this town. Any relation to the famous Tokyo?
He is my uncle, my dad’s younger brother.

Has your surname been a help or a hindrance?

It is both a blessing and a curse. Some people agree to come on the show because they think they will get an easy ride, mistakenly thinking that I agree with their politics because of my family’s historic involvement in the ANC.
Others think I will automatically be biased against them.
Most have come to realise that I am an equal opportunity offender and call things as I see them.

Who do you regard as the greatest radio voice of all time, and why?

In South Africa, I would have to say Tim Modise and Gareth Cliff. I never grow tired of them no matter where they work or what they are talking about. Tim is all serious and sensible, while Gareth appeals to a very silly side of my personality and makes me laugh a lot.

Besides being a talk shop, what does talk radio do?

It is a platform for public debate. More importantly, it is an educator and a space for people of different backgrounds, who would otherwise never interact, to engage.

What are the essential qualities of a talk radio host?
Patience and a good sense of humour. I have done shows with behind-the-scenes glitches, yet I managed to sound perfect on air. I have also done shows that are extremely well prepared, yet things unravel inexplicably. If you lose your patience or sense of humour, things can go pear-shaped.

Have you had any embarrassing moments on air?

Not really. I try to take all the punches like a big girl.

Is radio all that you do for a living?
I still do some consulting work and I am involved in a few charitable initiatives that look at the rampant rape of women and children in South Africa. I am also involved in early childhood development programmes.
Then there’s my website, It’s suffering from lack of attention because of my busy life, but it is my passion and I use it to promote black excellence.

What comes first on talk radio, a voice or intelligence?
Intelligence. You could have a lovely voice with no substance behind it – just like a pretty face.

At what point will you say ‘mission accomplished’ for Kay?
When the coffin is carried into the cemetery. The tombstone will read: ‘Here lies Kananelo Kay Sexwale. She lived!’

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