Ronge’s The Movie Show is now out but he will continue to do his regular Friday slot on the John Robbie show and on the Weekend Breakfast with Kgomotso Matsunyane. Kate Turkington will be doing travel in a weekly feature on Sunday mornings with Matsunyane after her Believe it or Not was taken off air.
No radio personality is forever and stations need to keep fresh and lively but, to me, this was quite a big move as Ronge and Turkington have been charming and informing radio listeners for decades – they are legends, particularly Ronge, who has long been South Africa’s very own Barry Norman (and just as good, if not better).
Grubstreet spoke to 702 station manager Pheladi Gwangwa this week to get insight into the radical changes.
Grubstreet: These are pretty big changes. What is the thinking behind them?
Gwangwa: Some of the changes that we implemented we’ve been thinking about and talking about for long time, for example, the idea of a sports show started in early 2010 but the timing was not right and we could never find the right person to do the sports show. So we finally decided on Udo Carelse (see details below), who was presenting our weekend breakfast show.
You know, with radio, this is like dominoes. When you effect a change in one place, it affects some other parts of the radio station. So the changes that we really wanted was to introduce the sports show and to also introduce a specialist Solid Gold Show, which is the one that is going to be done by Benjy Mudie (see below) on Saturdays. The effect of that is that we had to swing and change our programming and so we dropped the programming that wasn’t as popular with the listeners.
(The show) Bandstand, for example, when we were talking about the changes, our plan was to move it to a Sunday but had we done so as a three-hour show, then we would have been over our licence conditions because we have to play less than 15% of music on a talk station. Unfortunately, we had to drop it off so that we stayed within our licence conditions.
Grubstreet: I see but things do change and personalities come and go, don’t they?
Gwangwa: Ja, that’s the sad part… You know, we realise that people do love Auntie Kate (Turkington) but we thought that after 20 years it was time to retire Believe it or Not. So we wanted to find a way that would still keep Auntie Kate connected to her listeners on 702 and giving them something which she loves, which is travelling…Barry will still do a John Robbie feature and there is another movie feature on the Weekend Breakfast show.
Grubstreet: One can understand the sadness from listeners. Great radio presenters are your friends and companions as they are in your car or your kitchen with you, aren’t they?
Gwangwa: Ja, and we don’t change our line up often. That’s why when we do, we do a consolidated line-up change. We’ve had some complaints asking: ‘Why are getting rid of so many presenters? It is a purge?’
It’s not a purge. We took the considered view that when we make a change, we shouldn’t make small changes. We should do one consolidated move to give the station a fresh view, so to speak.
Grubstreet: And you do get complaints with changes in radio – far more than you would if you reshuffled a whole lot of writers at a newspaper.
Gwangwa: Very true.. and radio is a creature of habit.
A new sports show has been added to the week-day and Sunday schedule. Sports Talk with Udo Carelse will broadcast from 20h00 to 21h00, Mondays to Thursdays and from 19h00 to 21h00 on Fridays and Sundays. He has been hosting the Weekend Breakfast on Talk Radio 702/567 CapeTalk for the past year as well as hosting various other talk shows across the stations on an ad-hoc basis.
The introduction of Solid Gold Jukebox Saturday with veteran rock expert Benjy Mudie – a new show that will celebrate classic Rock n’ Roll, from the early days of the 1950s through to the Rock n Roll heydays of the 1960s. Kenny Maistry will join Mudie in presenting Solid Gold from 13h00 to 16h00 on Saturdays and also do Sundays.
As a consequence of these changes, Udo Carelse will no longer be hosting the Weekend Breakfast. Listeners can now tune into Kgomotso Matsunyane, who has a long standing relationship with 702 and CapeTalk and has proved very popular with listeners.
Besides Ronge and Turkington’s shows, a number of other long-running shows have ended: The Bandstand, The Jazz show and A word on… “Eleanor Moore and her Bandstand will be missed by her many devoted followers, as will Gary van Dijk who has been presenting The Jazz Show and Treasure Tshabalala who had been a host on Solid Gold weekends…Leigh Bennie has been ably presenting A Word On… among many other segments and shows during her tenure at 702 and CapeTalk. She will be missed,” said the press release.
… And on a personal note, I was very touched to read in this IOL story that on Ronge’s last show on Sunday night he specially asked listeners not to call in.
“He said earlier that he wanted to go out “easy and calm” – evoking the scene in the movie Titanic, where the string quartet played one last song before the ship sank,” the story says. “Change comes inevitably. If you don’t accept it and go with it, you end up tangled in a morass,” said the movie critic.”
I’ve been a fan of Ronge’s since I was teenager growing up in East London and I’d listen to his wonderful Sunday shows on Capital Radio. I met him once at an Alan Paton Literary Awards ceremony and found him as humble and warm and clever as his radio personality. I hope to bring you an interview with Ronge over the next few weeks, reflecting back on his career and finding out about his plans for the future… It’s not right that such a change is made without an exclamation mark!