Umhlobo Wenene’s BEE breakfast show team on being on air for a decade: “We love our listeners”

BEE breakfast show team photos Umhlobo Wenene Twitter
BEE breakfast show team photos Umhlobo Wenene Twitter

While many radio stations change their presenters often, SABC radio station Umhlobo Wenene FM has kept the same breakfast team for the past decade – and listeners still can’t get enough.

The Breakfast Eyondlayo Ekuseni (BEE) team’s chemistry is undeniable. We catch up with two of the team members, Phiwe “Pastor” Nozewu and Mafa Bavuma, just hours after they finish broadcasting. 

Pastor is doing something he hasn’t done in years – washing his car himself. “Car washes are not essential services, so I have to do it myself,” he jokes.

They started broadcasting together with Mluleki Ntsabo and Putco Mafani 10 years ago, but Putco left the team to follow other interests.

The team has remained steady over the years and Pastor says the numbers speak for themselves because when they first started, they were pulling 780 000 listeners a week and now they have 3 million weekly listeners.

“It has really been an honour for us to be able to do what we love every morning.  We love our listeners and we respect them, that is what has brought us this far.  This is the only show where a listener can say to me, ‘Hey, Mafa kwedini’ and there is no offence because that is just the relationship we have with our listeners,” Mafa says.

He says their listeners love their show because they’re relatable.

“We are really honest in our delivery.  The people you hear on radio are the people we are.  We do not try to be anything we are not.  Even me being teased for being slower than the others is not a problem, in our audience there is someone who can relate to the type of person that I am,” he says.

Mafa says they’re such trendsetters that in their part of the world, when someone does something silly or they drive too slow, it’s called “isiMafa” which means “Mafa’s way”.

As the content producer, Pastor is always at work before everyone else to prepare.  He says often members of the public want to know where he gets the topics from, and though he won’t say where, he says it’s not from social media.

“I make sure not to source our topics from social media because social media is not a true reflection of our country.  Our audience is very diverse and includes people from different LSMs (living standards measure), we cannot be continuously telling them about what is trending on Twitter or about cellphone networks with slow internet because they will not be able to relate.  Our job is get people talking about things that matter to them,” he says.

On weekends, Pastors says, members of the public ask him where the other BEE members are. “People really think we spend all our time together even after hours.  It is really sweet of them,” he chuckles.

They thank all their listeners who have supported them over the years.

“We would not be where we are without them,” Mafa says.

They also thank Umhlobo Wenene FM management for having faith in them for so many years.

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