Perlman 'thrilled to be back on radio'

Last week John Perlman, the former host of SAfm’s morning show, started a new chapter at Gauteng regional radio station Kaya FM, hosting Today with John Perlman, a show he hopes to have a long-term commitment to. “I’m not a dabbler. It’s not something I do,” Perlman said.

Talking to the Mail & Guardian Online on Monday, Perlman said he is “thrilled to be back on radio”, and Kaya FM is providing an “interesting” experience.

“My new colleagues make it very interesting. This new group of colleagues is already making me rethink some of the things I knew, maybe the listeners also ... and that’s a good thing.”

Perlman hosted SAfm’s AM Live and the After Eight Debate until March this year, when he resigned for reasons allegedly related to the South African Broadcasting Corporation’s (SABC) blacklisting of certain media commentators and journalists.

Earlier, Perlman had confronted SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago on the air, when Kganyago publicly stated that no such blacklist existed.

Perlman took some time off before making the decision to join Kaya FM.

The experience at Kaya FM is slightly different from others he’s had, but he is excited to be part of a regional station in Johannesburg, Perlman said.

“What I’ve never had before is an opportunity to interact with a community in quite such a focused way ... I grew up here but I’ve never been working in the place that I came from,” he said.

“And the hours are definitely easier; I don’t have to wake up at 4am anymore.

“Kaya has a different audience [to SAfm],” Perlman said, explaining that it is a regional station while SAfm broadcasts nationally.

Kaya also has a very strong black listenership, and it is primarily a music station, with news and talk shows broadcast at night.

He said he is looking forward to the challenges. “There are both opportunities and limitations to everything you do. Here the opportunities outweigh the limitations.”

Monday will see Perlman’s fifth show at the station and already “the lines have been very, very full” he said “and that’s key”.

Although he hasn’t recognised any voices from the calls he received, he is optimistic that some of his previous listeners will migrate to his new show.

Perlman said he isn’t sure what Kaya FM’s regular listeners expect from his show, but he had a great first week.

“It started out with a bang; we had Tokyo Sexwale and it was his first radio interview since 1998.

“I’m still figuring out what the audience is about,” Perlman said, wondering how argumentative they were as compared to his previous listeners on SAfm.

“But I like the station and I like the idea of working for a station that focuses on a particular region; that broadcasts in a focused, targeted way. It’s the whole of Gauteng, and that’s huge,” he said

“It’s a great opportunity,” Perlman said. “The main thing is that I get to do talk radio and not just straight news. The most enriching thing for me is conversing with members of the public.”

As well as his work at Kaya FM, Perlman also works at facilitating live debates for companies and NGOs. He is also working on a large social initiative that he will publicly announce in due course.

Perlman’s new show, Today with John Perlman, broadcasts from Monday to Thursday between 6pm and 7pm on Kaya FM (95.9FM) or on DSTV audio channel 62.

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