Email: info@nvmckenzie.co.za | Twitter: @NVMcKenzie

The Creative Couch

The Creative Couch was born on 27 April 2020 and boy WAS IT A BIRTH.

We opened with Mbuso Khoza of the African Heritage Ensemble when we sat down to talk about how we capture history in this day and age. Now, Mbuso Khoza is an incredible font of knowledge and listening to him, you truly are baptised in new revelations and information on history, culture and music. I loved how he captured the storage of cultural knowledge as the freezing of moments in time and ascribing value to lived cultures.

Towards the end of the interview he said something so poignant about how we gather knowledge from those who have lived the cultures we want to know more about; ‘uma uyofuna ulwazi awuyi njengomuntu owaziyo, uya njengomuntu oyokwethekela’. Now I took that into the daily living of our lives; how we should enter any space with a desire to learn and the mind a black slate.

One thing I learnt very early in my radio career was to enter an interview with no judgement whatsoever. Enter with no presumption or assumption regardless of who you are interviewing. I have been inside prisons with convicted murderers and crawled into their experiences, I’ve had interviews with CEOs, sat across internationally acclaimed musicians, moderated panels with national ministers, given talks to rural women and sat down with young girls from all walks of life. In every situation, I enter every interview with no preconceived notion of who the person is and what their story is because every time we sit down across a person, there is a lot that we do not know about their heart, their mind, their life experience. I’ve always termed it ‘entering with no judgement’ but in giving power to how little I know about the person or topic, relative to how much the guest knows, and therefore how much I stand to learn by opening my heart, mind and spirit; I enter all conversations ngiyokwethekela.

May we all greet each other with openness, non-judgement and a true desire to learn from each other.

Click here to watch an episode of the Creative Couch

Teach Children to Save South Africa

I had the honour and pleasure of working on the Teach Children to Save South Africa Campaign as their endorsing voice for 2013.

Here’s a copy of an interview that I did with them, about the project.
Tell us a little about your childhood, have you always wanted to be on radio?
– Getting onto radio was purely divine intervention by the universe and the powers that be. The grand plan was to become an economist. The best laid plans huh?
I’m from KwaMadlala, a rural area in the small town of Port Shepstone, on the KZN South Coast.  I had an average childhood, spent with my uncles teaching me all the ‘guy’ things and my grandmother MaSangweni and my mother teaching me all the ‘girl’ things.
Besides being on radio, you do a number of things, tell us a bit about that.
– I’m the Vice Chairperson of the Business Women’s Association, Durban Chapter.
– I work with some schools in the greater Durban area in efforts to enhance the quality of education in those schools.
– I run a communications agency called WordArt Communications
– I co-own a TV production company with my business partner Terri Pillemer
What made you agree to be TCTS SA’s endorsing voice?
– I spent most of my childhood with my grandmother who was very good with money. Apart from a few mistakes in my very early working days, I learnt most aspects of handling money from her. Not all children have someone to learn ‘money lessons’ from and it’s great to be part of a project that does just that for children
What have you enjoyed the most about it?
– Being part of an initiative that is changing an entire generation’s attitude towards money.
How good were you as a child with your finances?
– I liked sweets too much. So when my mother tried to help me start a sweet ‘business’ selling sweets on the school bus, I ate my own stock! All of it :)
Thank you for the interview. Without revealing much, what can we expect from you in the near future?
– Whatever the universe and the powers that be deem me worthy to receive.

I am eternally grateful

I have been blessed in so many ways and the last few days have made me appreciate that in a new way.

I joined the media 7 years ago and truth be told, it was sheer luck. It was completely a matter of the right ‘someone’ hearing my voice, liking it and out of the blue offering me that opportunity. It was never something that I had considered and it was never something that I thought I could do for a long time and yet it has changed my life in so many ways. I have seen and experienced so much that I otherwise may not have the opportunity to experience. I have faced challenges and I have grown through this journey.

Sometimes I hear a radio personality recounting his or her struggle to make it on radio and get the opportunity; and I am always in awe of how far some people will go to achieve their dream. I was lucky and so blessed in it all, I didn’t go through some of the pain and strife that some have had to go through to get to where they want to be.

And that appreciation of my slightly different journey was heightened when I participated in the Top Billing presenter search. Ukhozi FM, the radio station I work for, partnered with Top Billing for the Durban leg of the search and nominated two presenters to participate in the process; I being one of them, Chilli M being the other.

Again, my experience was slightly different in that I didn’t stand in a long queue with all the contestants and go through the whole anxiety of ‘what to expect’ because I had at least stood in front of a camera before; filming for roots at the South African Traditional Music Awards in 2011 as well as Ses’khona in 2009 and Creature Club between 2007 and 2010. For these auditions, I was expected to arrive and when I arrived, I went in, signed in, did the audition and I left.

However, in the short time that I was there, I did gain some insight into what people who really want to make it, go through. Some of those young women and young men, were there from the early hours of the morning, hoping to be first in line and get the opportunity to impress the judges. They were dressed to the nines, rehearsing their links, practicing their walks.  It just goes to show that in different ways and in different careers, people are just looking for their lucky break and looking to make their mark.

I am so blessed to have had the opportunity to do what I enjoy and what allows me to be me from a very young age. I am blessed to have had the experiences that I have had, learnt the lessons that I have learnt and walked the path that I have walked.

I am so blessed to have been part of these auditions. For me, it was not about the competition, I participated simply because I had never been exposed to that side of trying to get into the media and I wanted to experience that and kind of stretch myself, open myself up to criticism and get a better understanding of what I am capable of and not capable of.

At the same time, being a strong believer in messages from the universe, I don’t think the primary purpose was for me to just audition; it was for me to appreciate what I have, through seeing how badly some people want that one lucky break and the lengths they will go to, to get that opportunity.  I have at least had that opportunity.

I thank the powers that be for the opportunities that I have had, the lessons I have learnt, the people that have seen in me what I did not know existed and the path that I am walking.

I may not have it all but for what I have been blessed with, I am eternally grateful.

Sithakela Isizwe

I am a strong believer in the whole idea of ‘divine intervention’. I believe there is a plan for each and every one of us. I believe that what we view as chance encounters and coincidental interactions,  are all part of that plan.

My radio career has been about experiences and growth. I have had the opportunity to host, produce and co-host various shows on both Gagasi 99.5FM, the station I worked at until 2008, as well as on Ukhozi FM since joining the station that same year. It’s been an awesome journey; from graveyard to prime time, from working to behind the scenes to behind the mic, I have enjoyed every minute. I have learnt and grown so much through the experiences of working in the media, as well as working on the various shows that I have been afforded the opportunity to participate in.

It’s because of this that my focus is on the experience of doing each radio show and adding value to each show that I do, no matter what the time slot, versus focusing on going back to prime time. Having worked on the breakfast show as a co-host and a producer, I realise what a great opportunity that was and I appreciate  that experience. However, once I had learnt what I needed to learn from it, the universe’s plan was for me to move on from it. I have had exciting opportunities and worked on various shows that have taught me a lot of about radio as a medium.

I had grown comfortable on the weekend shows that I had been doing on Ukhozi FM for the last two years. However, as I say, there is your plan and then there is the gods’ plan.

Each show has its own personality and I have learnt different lessons from each of those experiences.I have enjoyed each show that I have either produced or presented, in a different way.

There is however, something about doing a talk show and using the powerful platform that radio is, to educate listeners. This goes back to when I first did a talk show, Selishonile, on Gagasi 99.5FM in 2006.

Very unexpectedly, my voice has found it’s way back to talk radio on Sithakela Isizwe, the talk show that I now host on Ukhozi FM from the Monday to Thursday, between 20:00pm and 23:00pm.
Sithakela Isizwe is a three hour long talk show exploring topics ranging from light discussions and interviews to really serious conversations around pertinent social issues.

One of the highlights of doing this show, so far, has been the opportunity to interview Ray Phiri. I grew up in his music and have a lot of respect for him as a musician. Interviewing him was one of my happiest moments on air.

Sithakela Isizwe is a baby still, only two months old. I look forward to learning the lessons that will come with doing the show and I hope to do justice to it and to the listeners who take their time to allow my voice into their hearts and homes every evening.

Studio Memoirs: Radio Tales

As my radio career has evolved, I have captured some moments of my radio journey on disc. A few weeks ago I rediscovered my collection of radio moments and took a long look back on my six year years on radio, what I have learnt and how I have grown though it and with it.

Some of those moments brought me to tears with laughter, some of those moments reminded me of the road that I have travelled and why it is that I am in radio. Most importantly though, they reminded me why I have so much respect for the platform and the opportunity to be allowed into people’s homes and hearts.

This is the audio clip that started it all in November 2005; my first ever voice over recording.
First VO Clip 2005

Not for one second did I ever think that that would lead to a career in radio but that’s where it took me. The radio bug bit; I was hooked  and there was no turning back. After initially hosting a weekend graveyard shift for a few months at the end of 2005 and the early half of 2006 on the then P4 KZN;  I got the opportunity hosted an evening talk show when the station rebranded to Gagasi 99.5FM in 2006.
The objective of the talk show? To talk, about anything and everything.
Male Grooming Topic Gagasi 99.5FM 2007

As part of that talk show, I also inherited an HIV/AIDS talk show called Talking Positively.  It was one of the highlights of my radio career.
Clip from an interview with with Judge Edwin Cameron

The year 2007 was just epic for me. I worked with creative radio genius, Makhosi Khoza, co hosting the afternoon drive time show, Ziph’ikhwama, on Gagasi 99.5FM. SumMed up, 2007 was the ‘Year of the Laugh’.

These are just some of the crazy ‘Ziphi Ads’ and ‘Ziphi Soaps’ that we did on the show.  They were loosely based on either everyday circumstances that we observed or on actual events at the time. Mostly though, we were taking the mickey out of products, people and situations.

In 2008 I moved across to Ukhozi FM at the SABC, initially doing graveyard shifts as a content producer and a weekend slot as an on-air presenter.

Fast forward to 2009, I was co hosting the morning drive time show, Vuka Mzansi. That show had a lot of highlights for me but the most memorable experience I had  was on my birthday. My colleagues somehow managed to get hold of my family and friends and asked them to wish me happy birthday on air.

Currently I host two weekend shows on Ukhozi FM, which I’ve been doing since 2010; it’s been an interesting ride and it has enriched my life in so many ways.

I have been blessed beyond measure to walk this path and call it ‘my life’; I have made incredible friends and worked with some wonderful people. Each and every day I thank the powers that be for walking with me on this journey.

The show goes on.

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