In their prime
18 November 2010 | John Robbie
Thirty years ago I was a young rugby player tour ing South Africa with the British Lions. A trip that led to me moving to South Africa.
In 1994 Joe Slovo said “The real struggle starts now”, and it was and is true. For me, 702 is more relevant now than ever before as we are part of the struggle to ensure service delivery to all South Africans.
I was two years old! Sorry – no pics!
I cannot imagine our democracy without 702. It has provided a plat form for South Africans to get to know each other and walk in each other’s shoes.
We have not only learnt how similar we are as different South Afric ans but we’ve also em braced our differences.
The opportunity to have our voices heard as citizens has put pressure on policy makers to listen and account. Any democracy needs this platform.
Chris Gibbons (be low)
I joined the station in May 1980 as chief sub-editor News & Sport, but on my first day at work, the sports editor himself didn’t show up – so they made me sports editor instead. We spent our mornings in May and June of that year – prior to the launch – rehearsing, checking systems, wire feeds, and studios.
Then at lunchtime, we’d all head off to the pub for a very extended “news conference”.
Back then, there was only the news editor, the sports editor and a sec retary who doubled-up as a reporter. Don’t for get that it was a music station – “The Rainbow of Sound” – so there was much less call for news and information.
Contrast that with today’s news- intensive format and look at the resources in the current Joburg and Cape Town newsrooms. I don’t think anyone goes off to the pub at lunchtime anymore either!
Jenny Crwys-Willi ams (above right)
Thirty years ago I was working in Fleet Street, London, when it was still the home of major Brit ish newspapers.
I lived in Battersea and getting to work in the old SAAN offices in The Daily Telegraph building in Fleet Street took me over Blackfriars Bridge and then left past the old Reuters Building, the Daily Express and then The Daily Telegraph.
I nearly fainted with pleasure every time I went in through the doors because of the his tory that had spilled out of the old building, and just the romance of newspapers which seemed to disappear over- night when we changed from hot lead and typewriters to com puters.
When I joined 702 in the early Nineties, com ing out of newspapers as I did, the daily and weekly deadlines flew out of the windows when the deadlines were minute by minute and there was no room for error.
It was the most excit ing place in the world in which to work in those years immediately be fore the 1994 elections.
John Berks held sway in the smallest studio in the world. Stan Katz swaggered, John Robbie railed at injustice at night and set the talk station alight.
It’s a more mature ra dio station now, but at heart I want it to remain a rebellious teenager.
I know that the stakes on a radio station such as ours are high and we need to be informed and disciplined and ready to handle anything.
I had just left school, and was studying aim lessly at Wits University, wondering what to do with my life, when I star ted listening to 702. I knew very quickly that radio was my future, went to Rhodes and studied journalism.
I joined 702 in 1995, and was assigned to cov er the Rugby World Cup by Chris Gibbons.
I had the wonderful job of reporting all the glory and national pride of that World Cup live on 702.
Fifteen years later, as we celebrate our 30th birthday, I’m doing much the same thing – broadcasting the glory and national pride of an other World Cup live on 702.
Thirty years ago I was headed off to boarding school in the Eastern Cape – about as far away from 702 as one could get.
I fell in love with the talk format while spend ing university holidays in Joburg in the early Nineties and heard people like Jenny, Chris and later John and thought, “if only I could be part of that…”
I first joined 702 briefly in the early Nineties and quit as a young reporter to travel the world in 1994. I missed it every day for nine years before rejoin ing in 2003.
702 is the only radio station I know that plays such a significant role in its community – everything from Walk the Talk, to Mother’s Day concert at the Zoo plus the on-air responsibility that presenters take to help people at their wits end with bureaucracy.
There is a sense of being part of a station that makes a difference in the lives of its listen ers.
I try every day to present business in a way that makes even people who could not care about the corporate world listen and, as they do so, I hope that I open their eyes to the way in which the business world works.
My dad owned the café down the street from the studios and while I was still at school I would do all the deliv eries to 702.
I loved the environ ment and got to know some of the presenters. I did impersonations and I remember doing a Ronald Reagan imper sonation on Stan Katz’s show.
I actually failed matric because of 702 – I told my parents I was study ing but actually I was hanging out with the overnight hosts.
When my parents and the station manager found out, I wasn’t al lowed back until I passed the next year.
Thirty years on we’ve been through so many changes and so many cycles but it’s great to be back on top again!
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