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John Berks was the forerunner for many radio wannabes in South Africa and a mentor to others. He transitioned from music DJ to talk show host with effortless style.
And he inspired the likes of Jeremy Mansfield – whose on air warmth and sardonic humour were an offbeat offset of Berkssie’s, while other one-dimensional curtain tricks of the likes of Darren Simpson, for example, trod in the footsteps of the original Berks prank call. Both Mansfield and Simpson were hugely successful in their own right.
Others, like shock jock Mark Gilmann, missed the plot entirely. Yelling down a microphone in a controversial radio hyperbole didn’t wash with audiences for long.
ALSO READ: ‘Godfather of radio’– Tributes pour in for John Berks
Gareth Cliff, who assumed the hot seat after Berks exited 702’s breakfast show, came as close to dammit as radio’s next legend. But without the humour.
Berks was South Africa’s Howard Stern, without the foul mouth and shock jock bits. He was protest, he was comedy, he was intelligent conversation and he was ridiculous. He was John Berks. And as long as radio waves punch holes through the wireless, he will be the best friend we ever had.
Even those who never met or heard him hear his echoes in radio to this day.