Radio Bop on the drop

Another year is on us and in radio and, as always, we expect thrills and spills, sometimes with the latter, rather unfortunately, dominant. The first major spill to befall us has been brewing from last year, and it comes from a station that was once the jewel of black radio but is now in need of a serious image and format revamp - Radio Bop.

Towards the end of last year, the station with a mind its own ran a competition for readers of a Sunday newspaper and its listeners to vote for the sexiest presenter.
The trouble was that the out-of-focus, thumb-sized pictures used did not exude any sexiness. Moreover, the information supplied about the DJs was only about their slots and nothing about what music they play or where they hang out to meet their listeners, all 100 of them. In the end, the core of loyal listeners voted for breakfast jock George Gill.

On the dial, a lot of work needs to be put in. Priscilla Nalana fills the Sunday midday slot and in three different listening sessions I have never heard her introduce herself. Instead, a few weeks ago she ran a competition asking listeners to identify a song that she had played every day of the previous week. Caller after caller, her listeners got the answer wrong. When your listeners cannot answer a question like that it simply means they do not bother to listen to you every day. Nalana did not get the hint and by the time I gave up she was still gleefully turning callers down. At a time when people win huge prizes for answering far simpler questions I would not be surprised if Nalana gave away a Radio Bop yo-yo, a lame whistle and a quick-fading T-shirt.

Seriously though, Radio Bop is a politicised entity that needs a cash injection, a transmitter upgrade for better reception in Gauteng, a change of focus as a regional station or, sadly, closing down. The greatest tragedy of Radio Bop is the haemorrhage of talent it continually suffers. The latest two examples are Adil More, who now runs the Yfm pre-dawn graveyard shift on weekday mornings and Kaya FM’s face and voice, Kgomotso “KG” Moeketsi.

Moeketsi was recently given the task of driving Kaya FM’s breakfast show, a slot that she takes over from lanky veteran Bob Mabena. Moeketsi’s show is called The KGB, and it thankfully does not invoke images of the now defunct Russian police force. A limiting feature of radio is that when a presenter inherits a slot, he or she is sometimes stuck with the same backroom staff - from producers to co-presenters - as her predecessor, except if you’re Phat Joe. What this tends to do is leave the sound and feel of the show unchanged. In Moeketsi’s case, a determining factor of her success will be her ability to gel with Carlito and Magasman. Her major challenge will be to raise her tempo and energy not just to suit the music, but because a breakfast show is supposed to get you out of bed.

Mabena has gone to 94.7 Highveld Stereo for a second stint, this time as drive-time anchor. The reason behind Mabena’s move is simple. When Highveld offered its rude breakfast jock Jeremy Mansfield a four-year contract, they had to eliminate any immediate and medium-term competition. Hence the decision to poach the breakfast anchor of a regional, adult contemporary station. The good thing about it is that a capable female presenter has been given a unique opportunity, and radio has been transformed for the better.

Radio listeners are in for a treat for two months when the Wondergigs series is broadcast by SAfm and P4 Radio in Cape Town. Starting in Cape Town on Saturday January 19, the live performances take place at the SABC studios in Beach Road, Cape Town. Kicking off the series is the duo of Neo Muyanga and Masauko Chipembere, collectively known as Blk Sonshine.

In the weeks to come they will be followed by the likes of jazz artists Robbie Jansen, Max Normal vocalist Watkin Tudor Jones and a finale with Moodphase 5ive leading lady Ernestine on March 9. All the gigs will be broadcast on P4 Radio Cape Town from March, as well as on SAfm’s Saturday Wired show with Michelle Constant (9pm to midnight) from January 26.

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