You anchored your own show on East Coast Radio in 1992; by 1998 you were the MD. What were the key factors that enabled you to achieve success in such a short space of time?
Ideas, creativity and the ability to work in a team. And of course, passion, which has been a key driver in my career. When I became MD I had a very clear vision of what I wanted to achieve and I managed to bring the team along with me.
You were regional anchor during South Africa’s first democratic elections. What stands out in your mind about that time?
There was lots of camaraderie. It was an exciting time for me because I’d been thrown in the deep end into live TV, something I’d never done before. What I remember was meeting incredible people, hearing amazing stories and having an immense amount of fun. It was a great time.
What have been the most challenging aspects of your career?
Learning how to manage people has been the most demanding lesson. There’s no blueprint for how to do it well. At East Coast Radio I learnt that you can never be in a position where people like you all the time, but hopefully they like your ideas and you can galvanise them to support the achievement of a vision. I’ve also learnt how important it is to depend on your team. It’s impossible to do everything on your own. The key to letting things go, I believe, is making good hiring decisions at the outset so that you have the right people. Over time people win your trust through consistent delivery.
What is the most important lesson you’ve learnt?
When you achieve success it’s very tempting to think it’s all about you because you had the dream or the vision. But with maturity you learn that this is not the case; even the best ideas require a solid team to reach fruition. Success is about everyone in a team.
You’ve grown Kagiso’s radio portfolio from one to six stations. What lies ahead for radio, particularly with the rise of new media?
Young people today have so many choices about where to get their music and how to spend their leisure time. We look to trends in places like the UK and the US, and have been able to learn a great deal from their experiences. It’s a good way of gauging what our future may look like. I think the secret for regional radio is to make it powerfully locally relevant. In the face of massive global media giants our strength will be the relationships we build with our communities and the integration of new media into the radio offering.
What are you most proud of having achieved?
My greatest achievement is turning East Coast Radio from a small station with a predominantly white audience into South Africa’s first really diverse radio station.