Words like illustrious come up when discussing the careers of South African radio legends, but it’s really not the right word to explain Alex Jay.
The radio giant has become part of the South African identity, whether you are aware of it or not.
If it wasn’t his voice walking you through tropical destinations on Top Billing for many years, you might have heard him presenting on then Radio 5, or up to last year on 947.
When he made his exit from 947 last year, loyal listeners wondered when they were going to next hear the voice of radio.
Well, Jacaranda FM last week made the announcement: Jay is now their leading man on weekends, taking over the station’s morning spots, and will also do daily regional spots.
One thing is clear, he’s glad to be back in business and waking up the country.
“The past six months saw me doing one show a week on 702. Not exactly a demanding schedule. Now I am with Jacaranda, it’s a seven-day week! Legit. Talk about feast or famine. But the devil makes work for idle hands, so I’m very happy to be busy again.”
His first broadcast was last weekend and all seems to have gone over well if you take a peek at Jacaranda FM’s Facebook page.
From congratulations to excitement, fans were glad to hear a familiar voice again. But Jay plays it cool when asked if he was surprised by the support.
“Yes I was! Still am. Honoured and humbled. I’m not worthy,” he says.
As a broadcast veteran, Jay is aware of the important role radio plays, not only in South Africa, but the world.
“Radio reflects what’s going on. And, as you know, we live in turbulent times. Radio is a very good barometer,” he says.
“Who can sleep well these days? JZ, Day Zero, Trump, Brexit,” he mutters. But although the news of the day is inescapable, Jay’s gig on weekends can be a little lighter.
“Everyone is in a good mood on the weekend. It’s easy to entertain folks who are already smiling. Unless of course the Bokke, Bafana or Proteas have failed to deliver. In which case, cue the comedy.”
Jay gets up every day with a spring in his step because he is “gainfully employed by a company that appreciates the value I can add.
It’s a great feeling.” He is fortunate that he has had few on-air disasters, with career highlights centred around the many entertainment and pop culture figures he has interviewed.
“Over the years, I got to meet and interview many amazing people. Like Carlos Santana, Bono, Bruce Springsteen, Tim Rice and Richard Branson. “Luck, timing and my radio creden tials got me a dinner date with REM in Stockholm, lunch with Little Steven in New York and breakfast in Cape Town with Crowded House. Oh and a private performance by INXS,” he proudly says.
But Jay is most proud of the South African personalities he was able to meet and interact with over the years.
“From Rabbitt and Juluka to Sipho, Brenda and Ray, through to the Nudeys and beyond, being part of SA radio’s star-making machine has been the biggest honour for me. I have massive respect for South African musicians, past and present.”
Jay is a fan of AKA and Mi Casa, so he’s not breaking the streak of supporting local musos any time soon.
But although music is certainly one part of his work on radio, what gets this irreplaceable radio man up every morning?
“The thought of that first cup of tea. Simple pleasures, and the understanding that today might just be another awesome day.”
- Catch Alex Jay on Saturdays and Sundays from 6am to 10am on Jacaranda FM (94.2). ɳ You can also listen to Jay Mondays to Fridays on Jacaranda in Limpopo and Mpumalanga from 12pm to 4pm.