Interview with Redi Direko: Facing new challenges

2008-05-30 00:00

Redi Direko is preoccupied when I finally get through to her for our planned telephonic interview.

“I’m in a sports shop, buying running shoes,” she confides, who, as anybody who listens to her daily Radio 702 talk show will know, is training for the Comrades Marathon on June 15th.

(The other thing her listeners know is that she has a mad crush on Barack Obama).

“I’m petrified,” she says, when I ask how she’s feeling about the race. “But completely determined to finish. “It’s my first Comrades, so I am very nervous.”

Asked how she feels about being the co-anchor, with Jeremy Maggs, of’s NewsNight, Direko says she is excited to be part of history.

The pair will deliver the main two-hour news programme on the flagship 7-9 pm bulletin.

“It will be two hours of delivering world news, including interviews, analysis and commentary. We want to analyse and dissect information beyond the obvious. We want to ask the kind of questions, which most people in the industry will steer clear of for fear of a backlash,” says Direko.

A key aim of the programme will be to keep the news more conversational. “We want to bounce ideas on air. We will read e-mails that come in during the programme. We want to bring about a deeper perspective on news. We will interrogate the stories,” says Direko.

On working with Maggs, Direko is thrilled. “He is held in such high esteem. Everybody is so positive about him. I have admired him for a long time and love his personality. I look forward to working with him and learning from him.”

Asked what her style will be as host of News Night, Direko responds: “I want to be known for being authoritative and credible. I want to give our viewers the kind of interpretation they deserve. I want to provide insight and perspective and I want to be bold in the way I question things. That is one thing I am passionate. I like to ask bold questions. I will not be told what to ask. That is vital for me, my credibility and my product.”

In recent weeks, Direko has been in an intensive programme of training and rehearsing for her flagship role. At every spare moment, she tries to fit in a training run for her big race.

She’s been running for three years and is hooked.

“I don’t know what I would do without my running. It makes me feel good. I love to test my body and to see how far I can go. It creates wonderful balance for me and helps me deal with all the challenges I face. When I run on my own, I find I can reflect on my life.”

She’s also finding precious time to read the biography on her beloved Barak Obama.

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