Bongani the dad

Bongani the dad

He’s hip and sporty and has a wild sense of humour. East Coast Radio presenter Bongani Mtolo was recently awarded best afternoon drive presenter at the prestigious Liberty Radio Awards. But, he says, his greatest reward is still his family.

Becoming a father was an absolute game-changer for Bongani, a small-town rural boy from Richmond. His two sons, Lwazi (10) and Kwezi (5), have been the biggest motivators for his success thus far. “Being their dad means I will always have someone believing in me. There is this person who thinks you are the most amazing person in the world, and it is pure. They don’t expect anything in return, they just love you. I am very blessed with my job, in that I can spend quality time with my kids and my wife, Zamathe,” says Bongani.

Having dreamed of being on radio since he was a young boy, Bongani says he is literally ‘living the dream’ with his weekday 3pm to 5pm slot on East Coast Radio with his co-presenter Mags and the rest of the afternoon drive team.

After spending his childhood in Richmond and then going on to study sports management, Bongani’s first real job was selling cars. He did this for eight years until a colleague, who was working for Lotus FM at the time, helped him put together a demo for ECR. “After phoning them virtually every day, ECR’s programming manager eventually replied and we took it from there. That was about four and a half years ago.”

Like most deejays, Bongani started out on the ‘graveyard’ shifts, doing the midnight to 3am slot, and then the 4am to 6am shift. He eventually moved to the 6pm to 9pm slot and then landed the coveted ‘drive time’ show with a team he says he loves to work alongside.

“It is fun, interactive and honest. We are very diverse as a team – our lives are very different – but I enjoy the things we learn from each other through our differences. It isn’t forced, it’s a real relationship. We are not trying to sound friendly, we just sound like people who are getting to know each other.”

Bongani says winning the Liberty Radio Award for the best afternoon drive presenter has given him confirmation, and affirmation from his peers, that he is on the right track. “If I just look at the people that I was nominated with . . . winning means so much to me. I don’t think that there are many people who are as honest with content as I am. I say what I really think, which is rare. You’re allowed to have an honest opinion and I think that sets me apart.”

When asked what his dreams are for his radio career, Bongani says he just wants to carry on enjoying what he does. “I do radio because I have fun. The day I stop having fun is the day I will stop. I would eventually like to possibly branch off to TV, and I also have so many great ideas in the pipeline and would like to break boundaries and do things that no one has ever done before on radio.”

When asked what his favourite moment as a father has been to date, Bongani says the birth of his first son was a turning point for him. But, he says, he also just enjoys cherishing all the small moments with his kids.

“The last couple of Father’s Days we went to SOS Children’s Village in Pietermaritzburg. It is always a time to reflect on how blessed I am, and just the fact that I have the blessing of seeing my kids on Father’s Day and spending the time with them is enough for me!”

Text: Monique De Villiers-Delport | Family photograph: Val Adamson | Hair and makeup: Jackie Jetnarayan | Main photograph: Derryn Schmidt


Get It Magazine (Ballito/Umhlanga) – November 2018

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