Long before the word influencer was popularly used, Radio Bop treated its DJs like stars and invested in their craft. Most of the DJs were well-read which explains why most of them were teachers. Radio DJs were essentially influencers long before we came to use the word. These are the words of Hector Motivator, real name, Hector Mathabe, one of the shining stars of the iconic Radio Bop of the early 90s.
The multi-talented radio personality, motivational speaker and entrepreneur, who is one of the returning managers of the station, took time out of his busy schedule to speak to Saturday Star ahead of the 2023 debut of Radio Bop Africa which made its airwaves debut yesterday (Friday December 1).
Known and celebrated as the home and training ground of some of the biggest names of today's radio personalities, Radio Bop’s reputation is preceded only by the big names it produced in the late 80s to early 2000s. Mathabe, too, was inspired by some of these legends to take up the microphone and even though he was rejected when he tried out at the station shortly after matric, his radio dream was not shattered. He quickly re-established himself on campus radio before making his big break at the iconic station four years later.
Some of the stars that influenced him and many others include the likes of Tim Modise, Bob Mabena, Shado Twala, Glen Lewis, DJ Fresh, Ben Dikobe, George Manyosi and Hector Motivator.
“My journey as radio presenter began with me and my friend in 1989. We were travelling to school and having a conversation about our future. I was not so clear but he told me why don’t I become like Bob Mabena because I love music and because I have a voice for it.
“I started paying attention to broadcasters on Radio Bop. I was hooked and decided to join Radio Bop,” Mathabe says of his first encounter with the station and some of its personalities.
The new owners of the station have promised great radio and more of the good old radio except this time the station will not be another “boys club”. This is according to the station’s publicist, Lerato Phoko.
Add to that the changing radio landscape dominated by social media and podcast culture. The old saying that radio is the theatre of the mind will be given a new twist with technological advances which feature in the modern word of radio.
Phoko said: “Radio Bop is no longer a boys club as we are bringing equality to this iconic brand. Some of the familiar faces that you can expect to be part of our line up include Vincent Maseko, Mina Pilane and Bra Vusi Manzana. These are industry giants and legends who will be accompanied by new fresh talent.”
Mathabe said the station made it its mission to invest in its talented stars who had become trailblazers in the country’s broadcast industry.
“Excellence is one thing that was taken seriously by Radio Bop. You would not be put on air without having undergone at least six months’ training. Another thing, the station invested in the talent and made DJ stars and got them cars to drive and flats to live in. DJs were influencers in those days, long before the word influencer was fashionable,” he said.
After closing down in the early 2000s, Radio Bop resurfaced again in 2018 as a digital commercial radio station live streaming globally. Fast forward to 2023, and this pioneering contemporary urban black radio headquartered in Mmabatho returns under new management and some familiar voices and faces to bring listeners a touch of nostalgia and good old radio programming.
This week, news of the station’s return sparked excitement among radio enthusiasts who indicated they had been yearning for a nostalgic radio voice and heritage that over the past 50 years made radio one of the biggest media platforms in this country.
Phoko added that since the news came out, the station had become the talk of the town as station fans looked forward to its return.
“The return of radio has been the talk of the town. On the other hand, this has been nerve-wracking because we understand that this is an iconic brand and institution of radio in this country,” she said.