He was recently headhunted from 5FM to join the weekday morning nine to 12 show on 947. Msizi James (27) is on the list of new radio presenters including Thando Thabethe and Tholi B.
He says he's a loudmouth and his contagious laugh and strong opinion make him stand out.
“I have the gift of gab,” he tells Drum. “Talking is my strength.”
Loud, fun, and full of energy, Msizi started his radio career three years ago. Back then, he never imagined he would fall in love with radio and end up with his dream job three years later.
“There are people with more experience who studied broadcasting and worked on campus radio. But I feel so blessed to be given so many opportunities so soon in my career. And it’s not that I am more talented than the next person. I just work hard,” he says.
Unlike other radio personalities who started their careers on campus radio, Msizi began as a singer and performer.
He went on Idols season seven and made it to the top 17.
Before going on Idols, he was in a band with Kyle Deutsch and Shekhinah Donnell.
“We called ourselves Keep the Change,” he says before bursting into laughter.
“We performed around Durban, but when we struggled to find a name, we heard someone at a nearby bar say to the barman ‘keep the change’ and that’s how the name came about,” Msizi says.
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After Idols, while finding his way and deciding which career path to take next, he entered a talent competition on East Coast Radio in 2014 and won and they quickly offered him a slot hosting the early breakfast show every weekday from 4am until 6am.
“My experience on East Coast made me realise that talking was my passion and I loved radio,” he says.
"I started to realise that music was not my passion and that I lived to be on the radio and engaging with audiences.”
Msizi still sings at church when he gets a chance. “I still have a few songs on the radio, but that is not my focus,” he says.
“A funny story, I realised this because I was supposed to feature on Shekhinah’s breakthrough song Back to the Beach, but when I missed that opportunity, I knew it was for a good reason,” Msizi says.
While on East Coast, he was headhunted by 5FM and took over from DJ Fresh at 24 years old.
“At the time I was the youngest radio presenter on 5FM. But I wasn’t fighting to have the best slot, but fighting for my show to be the best,” he says.
“I fell in love with radio, and I made sure I worked extra hard because I did not come from a radio background.”
On his first day on 947, he felt a little bit out of place.
“I was very nervous, I was worried whether people will like me or not,” Msizi says.
“I had imposter syndrome because I didn’t go to school for this. But the audience was so kind, welcoming, gracious and I quickly felt at home,” Msizi says.
Born and raised in Hillcrest Durban, he is the last born out of four kids.
Msizi was raised by his biological mom Sylvia Hadebe and a white mom Pat Blair. “When I was five years old, my family lived in a bad situation. We lived in a one-room house and my mom was juggling several jobs,” Msizi says.
“Pat was a missionary from the US and moved into a three-bedroom house across the road from us. I would visit her on weekends. My mom would monitor my visits and I was safe. One weekend move ended up being 18 years,” Msizi says.
Although she didn’t adopt him, he became part of her family.
“I then had two families, my white family in the US and my biological mom,” Msizi says.
Having had the best of both worlds, right now Msizi is not worried about being on a drive time show of breakfast but wants to work hard at having the biggest show in the country.
During this time Msizi proposed to his high school sweetheart Angela Mcgennis and will be tying the knot on New Year's Eve.
“Life is good right now, and I am feeling blessed,” Mizi says.