Nathi Oliphant
3 minute read
2 Oct 2008

Rising to Gagasi

Nathi Oliphant

Patrick Bogatsu shares his rise in radio as he steps into big shoes. NATHI OLIFANT reports.

The new programmes manager at Gagasi 99.5fm knows how to win friends when he says that the people of this province are warm and welcoming.

Patrick Bogatsu (pictured right) says he believes in harmony between leisure and discipline, but it sounds as if he’s inclining more to leisure. He is unfazed by the power he’ll be wielding as he steps into the position vacated by Makhosi Khoza. The eccentric East Coast Radio disc jockey was both manager and co-presenter of the afternoon drive-time slot, Ziph’ikhwama. Khoza will continue to co-present the show.

Bogatsu (51) started in radio about 22 years ago after a short career as a teacher, a job he took to please his parents. He turned up for a voice audition at Radio Bop in Mafikeng and he got the job.

“The SABC then was strict with languages and I spoke Setswana, which was not catered for. Radio Bop was broadcasting in both English and Setswana and I was more conversant with English.” When SABC launched Radio Metro [Metro FM] in competition with Radio Bop, “I said this is my chance. I applied and got the job,” he recalls.

Bogatsu started off on the graveyard shift and it took him less than a year to graduate to prime-time slots. After a four-year stint as a DJ with Radio Metro, he took up a position in programming which lasted two years.

In 1993, he left to help at Radio Tswana with transformation and he was instrumental in the re-launching of the station as Motsweding FM.

“I got bored, left broadcasting permanently and went independent. I worked for a U.S.-based computer software company called Radio Computing Services … as an independent consultant.”

The work took him to Gabs FM in Gaborone to install the software, and he later criss-crossed the sub-continent to train new users in the DRC, Zambia, Kenya, Ghana and locally at Kaya FM and Yfm.

In 2000, Jacaranda 94.2fm programmes director Peter D. Nobriga invited him to join the station. He would stay there for six illustrious years.

How did he join Gagasi 99.5fm?

In June this year he had an e-mail from the U.S. to confirm whether he could speak Zulu and telling him to expect a call from KZN. Two weeks later, Pearl Sokhulu, Gagasi 99.5fm station manager, was on the line to offer him a job.

Bogatsu said he had mixed feelings about leaving the Big City, but decided to explore new boundaries.

“I’m divorced and many of my children are grown-ups. I have a partner, but she travels a lot overseas owing to her job. It was going to be easy for me and I was covered,” said the father of five.

“I saw this opportunity of growing media in KZN and I must say … now I know how it feels to work with human beings. The people here are warm and very welcoming.”

Bogatsu sees his main challenge as being to nurture the presenters.

“Radio broadcasting is an ego-driven business that thrives on recognition and attention. That’s where I come to balance two factors: fame and discipline.

“We need presenters who keep their feet on the ground, stay focused amid girls throwing their panties at them. I need to make them famous and keep them from getting bigger than the station,” he said.

Bogatsu is no fan of “shock jocks”.

He doubts South African culture is ready for such ventures, especially under the eye of public watchdogs like the Broadcasting Complaints Commission.

He said he is pleased to come to a young station with a good reputation. Gagasi 99.5fm boasts a listenership of over a million listeners.

“I believe in setting targets, finding a niche, sticking to it and not shooting in the dark. We need a strategic way of getting advertisers and sustaining them.

Yes, we can get more transmitters, but we can still sustain the bulk of what we have by growing from where we are.

“I want to set new benchmarks here … I believe I’m the best DJ in this country. If one doesn’t know Patrick, well tough,” he said.