Presenters from the Stellenbosch community radio station MFM 92.6 did Stellenbosch University (SU) proud at the SA Radio Awards held on Saturday, 26 November 2022. Katlego Letlonkane walked away with the award for the best night-time show (campus), while Wilné van Rooyen was recognised as one of five finalists in the news reader (campus) category.
Katlego Letlonkane's show, #SiyaKhulaLive, focuses on transformation and social justice issues and airs on Wednesday evenings from 18:00 to 19:00. Her producer, Tebogo Radebe, is a current PhD student in the Drama Department. The show is an extension of Siyakhula, SU's diversity capacity development programme, coordinated by the SU Transformation Office and Human Resources (Employment Equity and the Promotion of Diversity).
“The programme aims to promote diversity and employment equity by opening up spaces for reflection, engagement and conversation," says Katlego.
The content on #SiyaKhulaLive is also aligned with the SU Transformation Office's Imbizo 365 calendar of engagement.
“Each month on this calendar has a theme and we drew from this to spark discussion points on the show. For example, March is Human Rights Month, and so our reflections were centred on our fundamental human rights. April is Freedom Month, so we spoke a lot about democracy and what freedom means to us in South Africa today," Katlego explains.
“Siyakhula means 'we are growing' and the programme is certainly living up to that name. #SiyaKhulaLive has grown with every show. Our first show was in September 2020, which is Heritage Month. We shared reflections on the central national symbols of our heritage, such as the national anthem and the flag, and what they mean to each of us, what they evoke. It gave us some deeply enriching perspectives. I immediately understood what we are here to do in the Stellenbosch community: To keep creating room for these conversations, to find space for us as a community to connect and really engage in this manner."
For Katlego, winning this award is an absolute bonus as it recognises her for doing something that she loves. “I have always wanted to do something that allows me to connect with others. I have been able to grow and build confidence that the things that I value and share on air will resonate with others. And I have also learnt so much from listening to other people's stories. It has truly been informative and humbling in so many ways," she says.
Katlego is enthusiastic about the power of radio to reach others and her love for the medium started at an early age. “I can remember listening to Mark Pilgrim on 94.7 (Highveld) on weekends when I was about 10 years old, while busy with house chores. I was captivated by their production of radio together with then news reader, Dineo Mphahlele, and I knew I wanted to do this someday.
“The wonderful thing is that about five years ago I was given the opportunity to work in the news department at what was then Hot 91.9 (now Hot 102.7). I arrived there on my first day and guess whose show I was the news anchor for? Mark Pilgrim! And so there I was on weekends, with Mark Pilgrim, this time me in studio delivering the news updates! Me! I love how that story came full circle because it shows how childhood dreams can become a reality," she says.
“For me, every Wednesday at 18:00 is a highlight. We know we are going to learn. We are going to share. We are going to be engaged and we are going to have igniting and inviting conversations. In August, which is Women's Month, we reflected on the story of Princess Magogo, whom I only knew of briefly before the show. She is such a huge figure in our history. More recently we shared a story about Noni Jabavu. She is a black woman born in South Africa and raised and cultured in England, sitting with these two different worlds in a time of heightened political segregation. Noni Jabavu's story took us on a journey of identity and place, and it is an important story to tell in Stellenbosch.
“#SiyaKhulaLive has grounded me in the importance of telling stories. These stories become legacies for generations to pick up and reflect on. People can use those stories as an affirmation of their own story. So, it brings me great fulfilment to do this kind of work because I also benefit from it so much. It is not just about the people we have touched through the show, but also about the stories of the people that have touched me. I am hoping our listeners share this sentiment as well. I am touched and moved and shaped by the conversations that we have and the stories we get to share on that platform. It is really something special," Katlego says.
Wilné van Rooyen was a finalist in the news reader (campus) category. She is also MFM's Drive presenter on Mondays to Fridays from 15:00 to 18:00. As journalism honours graduate from SU, Wilné has a particular passion for compiling and reading news.
“To me, radio is the most amazing medium because it allows you to connect with your listeners purely based on the content that you discuss. Because the visual element is not there, you have to provide really good content, and I truly believe we are doing that at MFM," she says.
MFM receives scripted news bulletins for their shows, but Wilné says her journalistic instincts always kick in and she edits the copy to remain relevant for her listenership. “I believe radio news still has an edge in the digital age because it is compact and concise – you can get a quick catch-up on all the latest important events in a few minutes – and you can do this at the same time that you are driving your car or working on another task."
Although she did not win the news reader category, Wilné says being a finalist has been wonderful recognition for her hard work and has inspired her to win next year. “I joke that I now know how the nominees of the Grammys or Oscars feel, but it really is great to be in such excellent company and it's given me valuable lessons on what to focus on in future," she says.
About the SA Radio Awards
The SA Radio Awards event was launched in 2010. These annual awards recognise outstanding performance in South African radio, across the commercial, public broadcaster, community and campus radio space. The judges consider creativity, presentation, value, production, effectiveness and credibility when making the awards. Visit the website at https://radioawards.co.za/
The story of MFM
MFM 92.6 is a campus-focused community station, owned and operated by and licensed to Stellenbosch University. Currently under the custodianship and management of the Division of Strategic Initiatives in the Responsibility Centre: Strategy, Global and Corporate Affairs, MFM is undergoing a long-term restructuring and re-imagining process.
Originally Radio Matie, in essence a PA system playing out of the then Langenhoven Student Centre, it changed to Matie FM in 1995 after obtaining its first FM licence. Through the years, changing its name to MFM 92.6 only, the station has consolidated itself as a leader in campus and community radio nationally.
MFM serves a primary audience of tertiary students and staff, whilst also catering for and bringing together the broader Stellenbosch community. Programming is focused on current topics and issues, with an overall drive to always entertain, educate and inform. MFM also serves as a crucial training ground for those wishing to enter the media space.
Listen to MFM either on 92.6 FM on your radio or stream via MFM's website at www.mfm.co.za.
WINNERS Katlego Letlonkane and Tebogo Radebe, presenter and producer of the programme #SiyaKhulaLive that is broadcasted on Wednesday evenings on MFM 92.6. Photo: Stefan Els