A passion for politics, a can-do attitude and a hunger for improvement, are what make Vow FM’s Siyabonga Motha, a Bright Star at this year’s Radio Awards.

On Friday, April 17, Voice of Wits’ (Vow FM) content producer and presenter of I Talk Youth, Siyabonga Motha, will be inducted as a Bright Star, in the 2020 Radio Awards.

Hailing from Bettysgoed, a village on the outskirts of Ermelo, Mpumalanga, Motha’s earliest encounter with radio was in primary school. He recalls listening to the isiZulu SABC radio station Ukhozi FM, and hearing the likes of Linda Sibaya and Alex Mthiyane, who inspired his love for the medium.

Although it wasn’t clear to him until his later years, Motha eventually entered the radio industry to tackle issues on politics and governance from the perspective of youth. “I want to change the idea that politics is only for old people. These policies affect us (the youth)… On radio I am able to be the voice to ask questions on society’s behalf.”

According to the Radio Awards website, a Bright Star candidate is any “26 [year-old] or younger – either on air, or behind the scenes – who is making his/her mark on the industry… The person would be someone who is a tireless worker and on whom the radio station has come to rely on.”

Grateful for the kind words, 26-year-old Motha told Wits Vuvuzela, “I don’t see myself as a ‘tireless worker’’, I was just doing my job.”

While his role is content producer for VoW FM ‘s talk show I Talk Youth, Motha goes above and beyond as a field reporter for the news team, stand-in presenter for other shows on the station and is always available to assist with teaching at the Wits Radio Academy and mentoring newer colleagues at the radio station.

“I want to use the opportunity [of being at a community radio station] to do everything I can,” said the Bright Star inductee.

VoW FM station manager, Shoeshoe Qhu (34), acknowledges Motha as one of the individuals who inspire her. “Siya is always available and ready to work.”

Qhu nominated Motha for the award, saying that he deserves the recognition. “Since you don’t get paid in community radio, as a volunteer you literally invest yourself into the station.”

Executive producer of the Wits Radio Academy Lerato Makate (35), who Motha said was the first to recognise his potential at the radio station, praised him for his ability to listen. “He does a lot of introspection and constantly reflects on his content, not just to improve himself but also the lives of the people he caters for (his listeners).”

Motha’s tenacity and desire to challenge and improve himself and those around him is a virtue that was salient across various interviews with personal friends and work colleagues. “I’m not surprised. He’s consistent and persistent,” said Gugulethu Motha (25, no relation), who is Motha’s best friend. 

When asked about his future in the radio industry, the 26-year-old said he’d love to eventually get to Ukhozi FM. “ The Zulu station speaks to my roots as an African. They tackle traditional topics and cater for all demographics.”

To individuals looking to enter the industry Motha says: “Don’t step into radio because you want fame, but to make a difference in people’s lives.”

Words to live by if you ask me.

FEATURED IMAGE: Siyabonga Motha, Radio Award Bright Star inductee in front of the radio desk at VoW FM. PHOTO: Provided