Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Tag: Cape Talk

The tightrope, the time bomb, the end of the line

On Saturday morning I almost lost my voice as I screamed back to the ward councillor (DA Roberto Quintas, I think) for Hout Bay being interviewed by Africa Melane on Cape Talk. My screaming was a bad idea because I was on my way to the recording studio to do voice overs.

He was talking about the protest by the residents of Imizamo Yethu, living on a sports field while waiting for the blocking system of their informal settlement to be completed. They are living on a field with no electricity, in the middle of winter, way after the due date of their moving back to a place where they are going to have to erect their own shacks with ‘shack kits’ provided by local government. They are not allowed to light fires to keep warm or make food. They have no idea how much longer they are going to have to stay there.

And this ward councillor was using words like ‘mitigate’ and ‘implement’ and ‘overcoming the obstacles of delivery backlog’ while human beings are living on a SPORTS FIELD, without ELECTRICITY in the middle of WINTER. I could hear the frustration in Africa’s voice, as he tried in vain to point out that these were desperate people in absolutely untenable circumstances, and I was thinking about the people of Knysna who were offered free Spur food and even free hotel shelter when their houses burned down. I was thinking about them, and how they were promised money by ABSA, and the absolute difference. The hideous difference.

Imizamo Yethu was literally a squatter camp, set up in the bushes of the mountain, for black workers to sleep in because transport to their work in the white suburb of Hout Bay was so lacking. That is how it started. So, residents of Hout Bay. Is it not time for you to start taking responsibility for Imizamo Yethu? Is it not almost too late, while you drive past this sports field, to your electric fence surrounded home that is cleaned by one, or two, of the residents of this township that BURNED DOWN?

Please, councillor, take responsibility, make a commitment, and work for all the people in your ward, not only those who are inconvenienced by the road blockade, and who can’t drive the most direct route to their homes, and light fires in their fireplaces as the soup bubbles on their stoves.

Advertising – a wake up call

In the last couple of weeks I have been listening to the radio a lot, mainly Cape Talk 567, to keep up with the news, the current climate of sentiment in South Africa, and because I enjoy the challenging, funny, irreverent and sometimes razor sharp attack of Eusebius McKaiser. He doesn’t let a thing slide, and he calls out the white privilege of those who dare to call in, pointing out their hideous assumptions, lack of awareness, and the outrageousness of how badly they want to be heard and recognised as sufferers or victims. He is so good at it; so good at the outrage, the debate, the breaking it down into bite size pieces, so good at carrying the thread for maximum traction. He is a jolly fabulous talk radio host and I do love him.

What I have been finding more and more problematic though, is what happens when, in Eusebius’s own words there needs to be an ad break ‘to go shopping’. I know that Joburg (where Eusebius sits) and 702 land’s advertising is different from what we get here in Cape Town, but I am always utterly shocked by what is being advertised to whom. And, of course, in case we ever forget, who holds the purse strings. Cars on special for only R369 000. Holiday packages beyond the reach of anyone I know. Retirement homes in retirement villages. Insurance and investment packages. Vehicle tracking systems for cars. Very, very expensive things for the rich, white few.

This is not the demographic of people who listen to the radio, (although in Cape Talk’s case, from the complaining white constituency you would probably think so), and yet, only the rich white few are targeted as relevant for advertising. It makes business sense. Sell to those who have the money. That’s the whole point of advertising. But it so often buys straight into everything that Eusebius (and others) are railing against. It is the whole system, run by white capital, and the independent media is no exception.

So often white callers quote ‘business facts’ raised by Eusebius’s colleague Bruce Whitfield on his The Money Show, and sometimes I end up hearing bits of Bruce as well, mainly when I am driving at that time and the radio in my car is on.  And let’s face it, I know that the show tries as hard as it can to have as many black voices featured on it, but the voices and faces of big (and small and medium) business in South Africa are still predominantly, largely, and only with the rare exception, white. Then there is the content on that show, aimed at those who have disposable income, regular jobs, property, annuities, insurance, medical aid, cars, investment portfolios. Who are these people? They are mainly, and for the most part white.

So, what’s my problem? It’s this. In a world where we are trying to have the honest conversations that Eusebius tries to have, we have to acknowledge how even he and the radio station he works for are propped up and supported by the very thing he is trying to engage critically about. And I find the adverts uncomfortable. I find them garish, and insensitive and completely out of touch. And yet, they are aimed directly at where the money is.

This system is deeply entrenched. It underlies the fibre of even those that dare criticise it. It marginalises and excludes the masses. It is as dishonest as only advertising can be.

 

The Soli Story

I’m sure it’s mostly old news by now that Soli Philander was dismissed from 567 Cape Talk a week or two ago. I realised something fishy was happening when Shado Twala seemed to inherit Soli’s slot indefinitely. Although I have read Soli’s heartfelt rhyming explanation for what happened on face book, I don’t profess to having the ins and outs and I certainly haven’t tried to find out the story in more detail or even call out that he was unjustly treated. I just have some thoughts on how corporates just get things so damn wrong sometimes.

Soli is a transformer. He is able to change the way people think, manipulate people’s ideas and encourage them to do things differently. He is exactly what you want in a public persona; someone who speaks their mind with humour and conviction, and gets people to come along for the ride. Which is exactly why his Taxi Timeout was a genius idea and why he and his show were so completely valuable, both for Cape Talk, and for Cape Town.

Now I am not suggesting that Primedia management and the bigwigs don’t have a case against Soli (although I have no real idea about this) but I am pretty convinced he didn’t do anything outright illegal, like steal or cheat or do stuff that our politicians are so comfortable doing with public funds. I am sure they have very good reasons for dismissing him. It just doesn’t make sense.

I really believe that they needed to make every effort to keep him. They needed to pay him more, bend or break the corporate rules, change how they do things, and negotiate a different scenario to make sure he stayed; because he is who we want on our radio. He does it for us. He was their pot of gold, their valuable asset, their secret weapon (not their only one, I concede, but one of them). And instead of trying to make him and us believe that he is dispensable and replaceable they just needed to eat humble pie, recognise his extraordinary value (which comes with all the difficulties of being a huge, popular, magnetic transformer) and make a plan. But no, they pulled that corporate, contractual, businessspeak bullshit and got rid of him.

I loved Shado as a South Africa’s Got Talent judge, but to fill Soli’s boots on the radio as a talk show host? Aikona sisi. So, during that time slot I’ll listen to one of the few really crap choices we have on FM in Cape Town, as I am sure many Cape Talk listeners will. And that just seems so pointless. Cultivate, support and grow what people value and talent you have 567 (and all other corporates), instead of big sticking them out of there.

let’s talk 567

cv_soli I’m having a week of radio stuff. Today I am marching off to the Cape Talk studio to have a chat with Soli Philander about stuff, mainly theatre reviews and blogging. I love chatting to Soli. I don’t know if anyone remembers the last time Soli had a show on 567 Cape Talk, I would join him on a Friday arvie for Meg’s Moan In, where I would complain bitterly about all sorts of things. A lot like, this blog actually. So if you’re near a radio at 14h30, give us a listen.

I love talk radio as well. I don’t know if anyone listened to the Cape Talk drive on Monday to raise money to feed and care for orphans? They raised a whopping three and a half million Rand! Children phoned in to pledge pocket money, grannies called in to give their few Rands worth. I wept. Capetonians can be amazing!

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