Radio Review: Talk the talk

I have a confession to make. I have a gripe with the tendency of radio broadcasters to keep great female presenters in the 9am-to-3pm slots, outside of the big bucks and audiences of drive-time shows.

On the other hand, what’s been interesting and cool has been the manner in which daytime slots (between the heavy advertising-driven drive-time shows) have created truly engaging radio and reinforced the idea that all hours of daytime radio are primetime radio.

As radio stations look to unlock new revenue in other parts of their programming, exceptional talent in all slots becomes even more critical and, in the end, the listeners are the biggest winners.

Talk radio has seen the most line-up changes lately, with three awesome women stepping up to the mic.

STEPPING IN

Last year, veteran broadcasterJenny Crwys-Williams retired from the 12pm-to-3pm slot in her 22-year relationship with Talk Radio 702.

To replace her, Samantha Cowen, who is no stranger to change, having seen two breakfast shows come and go on 94.7, was announced as her successor.

Cowen comes with the authority and experience of more than 20 years. Despite her first week of speaking a little too quickly for talk radio, an old habit from music radio’s Top 40 format programming, Cowen has eased into her new role without trying to emulate Crwys-Williams. Her style is a little awkward at times, but charming.

She also doesn’t baby her listeners, who have some of the more delicate egos and feelings of radioland.

In her first week, I hoped she would become bolder. She has incredible wit, which I think she’s certainly showing more as she moves into the second month of her show. It’s great to hear her owning that slot and letting 702’s tough Joburg listeners know what time it is.

WARM AND CONVERSATIONAL

Another person with a mammoth task was talk show host Thabiso Sikwane, who was announced as the very popular Power Lunch host Azania Mosaka’s replacement after the latter’s departure at the end of last year.

Sikwane left radio and her Kaya FM talk slot in 2012, and brings with her the same calm and measured personality that Kaya’s Afropolitan listeners grew accustomed to.

She’s not dealing with the same personal-growth type of content, but it sounds like she’s finding her groove.

She is a little long-winded at times, but I think she’s just ensuring her listeners are not getting lost in the maze of information and complicated topics that are often discussed.

However, her show is still slick, warm, conversational and it feels real.

GENEROUS HOST

Azania Mosaka took her talk radio career to new heights by joining the weekend breakfast show on 702 and 567 Cape Talk.

The show has gone through a bit of a change, with a focus on lighter content instead of the more hard news and single personality-driven programming you hear during the week.

Mosaka’s first show with co-host Africa Melane was great – it was helped, of course, by the fact that they were in Joburg together.

Subsequent shows have taken place with Mosaka in Joburg and Melane in Cape Town, and save for the odd technical glitch, this two-city show is sounding good.

Melane and Mosaka are very generous hosts and have a great synergy on air. I’m enjoying some of the revamped elements of the weekend breakfast show – it feels meatier without being too info-heavy. Mosaka is showing her versatility as a presenter with the ease with which she has transitioned from a music to a talk format.

IN THE SHOES OF A LEGEND: Sam Cowen (right) with Jenny Crwys-Williams

POWERFUL: Thabiso Sikwane hosts Power FM’s Power Lunch

GENEROUS HOST: Azania Mosaka is showing her versatility

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