Anton Marshall : In your ear
Tuesday October 14 saw the launch of Cape Talk Radio, intended to be hard-hitting, topical talk radio. The line-up draws from the cream of South African print and radio, featuring a celebrated variety of media personalities like John Maytham, Martin Jordison and Lisa Chait, and others.
Chait and Jordison may be remembered by Capetonians from their Radio Good Hope or Kfm days.
Chait is also a well-known Cape Town fund- raiser.
John Maytham spent five years at Capital Radio and a further two at SAfm before moving to the private commercial radio sector, a move he describes as “from an old just-flying DC-8 to a prototype Lear jet!”
Cape Talk also drew vastly from journalistic backgrounds. Gaye Davis and Michael Hamlyn are two examples of presenters who are making the transition from print to “wave”.
Maytham in the Morning from 6am to 9am weekdays is the most polished show currently pitching at drive-time audiences in Cape Town, with well-organised traffic reports by roving motorcycle reporters, a sports report by Premier League soccer player Rodney Reiners, and a talk on current issues with Les Aupiais, who doubles as editor of Cond Nast’s new title House & Garden.
This kind of composition sets the tone for the rest of the day’s programmes. The vast variety of inserts and features are all presented by personalities or experts in their respective fields.
Probably the most intriguing line-up choice is Cape Town personality Sister, who rose to fame on Clarence Ford’s Radio Good Hope show. This golf-playing drag-queen has very quickly become a favourite among the Cape Flats crowd, admittedly not quite the Cape Talk target audience, which aims at a wealthier audience.
Gaye Davis, a former Mail & Guardian political editor, and Sister host, a 2pm to 5pm humour talk session aimed at lightening up the news.
This is a strange brew, for Davis’ background as a political journalist, and Sister’s “more-cult-than-reputable” status with audiences.
The contrast in approach sometimes works. It’s pointed, unique and ireent. At other times it’s just confusing and irritating.
Another potential highlight is the Jani Allan show on Fridays at 1pm. The “no guts no glory” content creates a refreshing, witty forum in a largely conservative line- up.
The major criticism that can be levelled is at Cape Newstalk with Michael Hamlyn, another drive-time weekday programme (5pm to 6pm).
Hamlyn, a veteran foreign correspondent in print media, is not yet quite as smooth as the programme director might want him to be, and the directions he follows in discussion may not always be the best advised for radio.
On the other hand, Hamlyn has been a victim of more than one technical failure. Twice during a show I listened to, the signal dropped out (cut), and later a telephone connection to the United States was lost.
Still, I felt that his lack of recovery was not really the mark of a seasoned peak- listening-time host.
The station clearly hopes to sound familiar despite being brand new. Saturday’s morning slot is hosted by Martin Bailie. The rest of the week features names like Barry Ronge, Isabel Jones, John Berks and Kate Turkington, all from Gauteng’s sister station Radio 702.
Talk radio is a different animal to music radio. It demands extremely slick production and careful programming mix to keep listeners tuning in.
If Cape Talk is not able to maintain the very loaded programme it currently carries, it will be difficult for its presenters and producers to keep an audience.
So far, though, the station has made an impressive start on what is bound to become a more common radio form in this country.
—Cape Talk Radio on 567 MW