300 Young South Africans: Media
In this section: Pabi Moloi, Bronwyn Nielsen, Azad Esa, Precious Kofi and more…
Azad Essa, blogger
Talking to Azad Essa is confusing. After congratulating him on winning Best Political Blog at the South African Blog Awards, he says he actually doesn’t really like blogs at all.
In fact, he thinks of his Thought Leader blog as his very own column which, in the competitive media industry, is a valuable platform.
Essa, who has a master’s from the Global Studies Programme, interned at the BBC, lectures in labour and globalisation at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and lectures critical context at Vega, became interested in the media through his father, an armchair journalist and avid letters-page correspondent.
“At first it was about the thrill of getting my name in print,” says the 27-year-old Durbanite, “but now it’s moved on. Maybe I have something important to say.”
The public seems to think so. Essa’s accidental academic blog is highly rated on Thought Leader. Still, he’s surprised his blog has been so well received, but says the reason they are popular may be because they offer a unique perspective.
Essa tries his best to stay away from allegiances, party politics and rhetoric, which is not such a simple thing to do when talking politics. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about? Confusing.
But there is clarity when he talks about the goal of his blog. Essa plans to take the skills and knowledge he has gathered in his online role and use them to effect change and make a contribution to society.
“The revolution, if there is such a thing, is on the ground.”—Eamon Allan
Lunch spot: Caminettos Pizza, Durban
Redi Direko; talk show host; Talk Radio 702/ 567 Cape Talk
Who doesn’t love Redi Direko? As one of the country’s top talk show hosts and a popular news anchor, Direko has charmed her way into our hearts with her feisty brand of journalism and her generous smile and makes us think while she’s at it.
Direko, who grew up in Soweto and got hooked on journalism when she was a child, has interviewed everyone from Desmond Tutu to Julius Malema with a kind of measured grace that won’t let anybody off the hook.
That she was the recipient of Vodacom’s Rising Star Award last year was no surprise. The 31-year-old host of the Redi Direko show, which is broadcast on Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape Talk, is also one of the main anchors for eNews and was the producer of a controversial documentary on former president Thabo Mbeki.
Direko studied journalism and communications at the then Rand Afrikaans University and holds honours degrees in literature as well as in social sciences.—Tanya Pampalone
Lunch spot: Wang Thai, Sandton Square, Johannesburg
Bronwyn Nielsen; senior anchor; CNBC Africa
You have to be more than just another hot blonde to anchor two of the country’s top business shows. Bronwyn Nielsen is the business babe with brains who interviews corporate mavericks every night on CNBC Africa’s Closing Bell and Business Tonight.
Nielsen worked her way up the broadcast ranks, doing time on Highveld’s (94.7 Highveld Stereo) news desk, reading e.tv’s news bulletins and anchoring for Summit TV before joining the CNBC Africa’s news team in June of 2007.
But she’s not all talk. Nielsen, who also produces investigative shows for the top-ranked Carte Blanche, took home the 2006 Telkom award for ICT Journalist. And, in order to keep her brand going, she says, and to keep her off Verimark ad’s punting “big green clean machines”, Nielsen also does media training for corporate executives. But it’s the TV adrenaline rush that she loves so much about her night job. “It’s like having an exam every night,” she says. “Once your show is going, there is nothing you can do but get through it. And when it’s over, you put it bed.”—Tanya Pampalone
Lunch spot: Bellini’s Illovo, Johannesburg
Liza Albrecht; editor; Rapport
As editor of South Africa’s national Afrikaans Sunday newspaper, Rapport, Liza Albrecht is one of the most powerful women in South African media. With a readership of over 1,6-million, Albrecht’s paper is distributed all over South Africa and in Namibia.
She began her career as editor of Student Newspaper Die Maties at Stellenbosch University in 1996. After her studies, she worked at Die Burger and then went on to work at Rapport as a reporter.
With Albrecht’s schedule, she doesn’t have much time to relax with her children of 15 and 10, or her Siberian wolf dog. But, despite all the heavy hitters she talks to on a daily basis, she says her children are the most interesting people in the world and her best time is spent sitting and talking with them.—Eamon Allan
Lunch spot: Theo’s, Sea Point, Cape Town
Renée Bonorchis; financial journalist; Bloomberg
Renée Bonorchis intends to be extremely busy when she retires. There are many items on her personal to-do list but work takes precedence at the moment.
Bonorchis recently moved to Bloomberg where she is a financial services reporter. The last word in this title is quite important, as her previous position at Business Day was editor at large.
But the former Zimbabwean seemingly does not stand on ceremony much—besides she says it’s a step forward for her at one of the world’s biggest financial information services providers.
With several prestigious awards under her belt, Bonorchis is now considered one of the foremost financial journalists in the country, perhaps best known for her investigation into executive corporate remuneration.
Driven to find the next big scoop, learning to play the saxophone, to speak Afrikaans “properly”, master photography and developing her wine palate will have to wait a while longer.—Hendri Pelser
Lunch spot: Tuscany Beach Restaurant, Camps Bay
Toby Shapshak; editor; Stuff magazine
Toby Shapshak is all things tech. As the editor of Stuff magazine—a geek’s publication paradise that comes complete with scantily clad girls holding the latest must-have gadgets—he reigns supreme as the major talking head for everything and anything tech.
Shapshak regularly appears on CNBC Africa, writes a technology column for The Times and is a contributing editor for Business Day’s Wanted magazine. But this former contributing editor at GQ magazine is not all glamour and gadgets. He cut his teeth at Sapa, where he covered the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings. Still, Shapshak is a nerd at heart—he’s a known collector of Star Wars memorabilia and Nelson Mandela kitsch. Albeit the kind of nerd that runs the sexiest technology magazine on the market.—Tanya Pampalone
Lunch spot: La Cucina di Ciro, Parktown North, Johannesburg
Pabi Moloi, presenter
Pabi Moloi just sent a Tweet. She’s stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the way to the community TV station in Soweto to put the finishing touches on the first show she’s ever produced, eBiyo, a movie review programme.
She says Twitter seems a natural fit. “I’m a broadcaster,” says the 25-year-old 94.7 Highveld Stereo host. “I like to broadcast my opinions. And I love the instant reaction and interaction.”
Moloi, who has a face for the big screen, has been on TV since she was a child. She was a favourite K-TV presenter, moving into radio after winning the 94.7 Hot Jocks competition when she was 18. From there, Moloi did stints on Metro FM and Yfm, returning to 94.7 Highveld Stereo in July of 2008 to take up the 12 to three daytime slot.
And while producing television shows is something she wants to do more of, she loves radio as much as she loves her Tweets. “I like how immediate, and how intimate, it is,” says Moloi.—Tanya Pampalone
Lunch spot: Espresso Café, Parkhurst, Johannesburg
Kevin Bloom, writer
Writer Kevin Bloom recently came out with his first book Ways of Staying, a non-fiction narrative that unravels South Africa’s landscape through the eyes of a white South African—and it’s quickly shot to the top of the bestseller list. Bloom tells the story of the nation from the inner city of Johannesburg to Polokwane through the murder of his cousin Richard Bloom in Cape Town.
He may be young, but Bloom has been on the media block for a while. He was the founding editor of The Media magazine, editor-at-large of Maverick magazine and a co-editor for Empire. Married to folk singer Laurie Levine, Bloom is a Writing Fellow at the Wits Institute of Social and Economic Research in Johannesburg.—Tanya Pampalone
Lunch spot: Radium Beer Hall, Orange Grove, Johannesburg
Masechaba Lekalake; presenter; Weekend Live>
Masechaba Lekalake is a multi-talented television news and current affairs presenter who has experience in research, production and scriptwriting for several programmes including Into Africa, an SABC Africa travel show that established her as one of the best-known presenters on the continent.
Into Africa took her to Ethiopia, Egypt, Uganda, Ghana and Nigeria. The 25-year-old is also a voice-over artist, directs music videos and hosts entertainment events. She has been the face of the Old Mutual Vukani Fashion Awards since 2006. A product of exile, Lekalake was born in Zambia and she has also lived in Zimbabwe and the United States. At the age of seven Lekalake was writing children’s short stories that were published in children’s magazines in California.
She holds a media studies certificate with emphasis in journalism, video broadcasting and public relations.—Mmanaledi Mataboge
Lunch spot: Moyo, Zoo Lake, Johannesburg
Precious Kofi, presenter
Precious Kofi talked a lot as a child. That’s when her mother told her: “You should be on TV.” Kofi started her trajectory young, growing up in Mandela Park next to Hout Bay. She did her first catalogues at age 11 and her first commercial at age 13. By the time she was 17, Kofi was presenting Hip2B2. At 18, she conceptualised and pitched her own show and the following year she was presenting the Precious Show, which ran for two seasons.
She is working with Urban Brew and at her own production company, Kofi Productions, on a new SABC1 series Precious Africa. She envisages it as a reality documentary experiencing the lives of different people in Africa. Oprah, watch your back.—Eamon Allan
Lunch spot: Rhodesia, Fourways, Johannesburg