Arts & Leisure

Foreign kid on local airwaves

Meet Bokamoso FM’s new boss

Chris Theko

Born and bred in Soweto, Gauteng in South Africa, Simangaliso Dlamini slowly making a name for himself as the station manager at Bokamoso FM 974.

With a Degree in Audio Visual Communication from the University of Johannesburg, Dlamini claims to have had an on-the-job training at the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) as a producer and director. 

He says as a young graduate excited about working at the SABC, he was not happy when he could not go straight in the field upon his arrival there.

“You know what’s funny, the first time I went to the SABC I was very sad because I had wanted to be on-set from the start, you know, directing and producing and all the fun stuff but when I got the internship I was told that I would be trained first on the business of broadcasting,” Dlamini says.

Stating his disappointment from being placed in the office, he says it was all from the excitement he had of wanting to meet all the celebrities and working with them but that he says helped him a lot to learn the ropes of the industry. 

“Although I was bored at first, I mean all I wanted was to meet the celebrities, but I am glad it happened that way because through that experience from the SABC I learned a lot quickly” he says.

Dlamini attributes his passion and ambition as the driving force behind all the things he has achieved in his journey.  He says three months after joining the SABC he was promoted to being an executive producer at a young age. 

“As an intern, I started producing some of the shows on SABC and three months down the line I was promoted to executive producer and at that time I was only 21 years-old which meant I was the youngest executive producer at that time,” he explains. 

Although highly experienced on television, he has always left a door open for an opportunity to be involved with radio hence did not hesitate when Bishop Ramela, the owner of Bokammoso 974, approached him having been impressed with his work that he had done for him in previous times. 

He says initially he joined the radio station as a consultant because of his knowledge on communication. 

“When I first came here I was merely just a consultant that had vast experience in the field of communication and my relationship with the Bishop. But from that moment things started to change from the programming to just the physical infrastructure, the equipment, outside broadcasting and the staff,” he says. 

“Because when I got here the team was a bit dysfunctional, I had to work with them from the ground up, giving them therapy sessions and even got a psychologist to change their attitudes from negative to positive” he claims.

Dlamini was heavily involved in the relocation of the radio station from Bedco to where it is situated now at Kingsway mall in the heart of the Maseru CBD along Kingsway road.

He says throughout the journey, he had to bring in a lot of other specialists to advise him on what could be done in his plans of re-inventing the station as a whole from a marketing specialist, to a technical specialist, a business specialist with him as a leader holding the whole process together. 

As someone who has been exposed to the South African industry and the Lesotho industry, Dlamini says the only difference between the two countries is the pace as he say because the South African radio and television industry is much older and fast paced than Lesotho. 

“The industry in Lesotho is still a fertile ground for us to create and be innovative because it is still not there economically, that is where we should start, stuff like paying royalties and making sure the entertainment hugely contributes to the economy of Lesotho.  But in terms of talent this country is filled with lots of unpolished gold,” he says. 

He describes himself as more of a leader than a station manager who is not about maintaining policies and managing processes in place but someone who is grafting new systems. 

“I am not a boss, I am not condescending I like working together with my team.  Because of what I am trying to achieve I become a bit stricter but it’s all because of professionalism” he says.

Attributing the many changes that Bokamoso 974 has endured over the past few months to his vision and understanding of the industry, Dlamini says he got concerned when he learned during his consulting days in the country that almost all radios are about politics and his vision was to change Bokamoso 974 from that and make it a trend-setter of note. 

“You have to give your people the vision, I don’t know how to be on radio or make jingles because my work is more of a conceptual nature so I had to share the vision and they had to buy into that vision by heart. So the vision was mine but I can’t take credit for the changes that happened as they are the ones who implemented and they are the ones responsible for the changes that people now bear witness to” Dlamini explained. 

Setting trends is what Dlamini believes in and says the industry demands people who are always on their toes as change is part of the game in radio. 

He says although he enjoys working with talented people he still believes in people getting education as that is a bonus for any established or aspiring radio presenter

“Nobody in school can teach you how to connect with people, so it is either you have or you don’t.  However, it is fun to know and be well informed, even here we have a talent room where all the presenters share and learn so that they stay informed.  If education is there, it is a bonus and I am not in any way discrediting it,” he says.

Dlamini says one of the hindrances of progression in the radio in Lesotho is that the business community is not open minded enough and believe in politics. 

“There is still an assumption that if you do politics then that’s where we will advertise and that’s dangerous because that’s brand by association. Bokamoso 974 has taken a neutral path that associates itself with no political parties and companies should think about their image,” he says. 

In over-a-year since starting work at Bokamoso 974, Dlamini says he has not only changed the outlook of the radio but has also been involved in other partnerships. He says he is now involved in mentoring and working with Take Me To My Crush, a reality television show that helps people who want to reveal themselves to their crushes and he says there is still more he would want to be involved in not only at Bokamoso but the entertainment industry as a whole. 

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