The news is out – DJ Fresh (Thato Sikwane) is joining 947 as of August 1. He will be hosting Fresh on 947 between 3 pm and 7 pm on weekdays.
Shortly after a 947 photoshoot on Saturday, Big Dawg stole some time ahead of his next gig to chat about the development, which was to be announced on Monday.
He said: “Listen, it’s been a long time coming. I think we’ve been talking, myself and Ravi Naidoo (Chief Creative Officer at 947) for probably the last 10 years. Ravi’s been courting me. And it’s weird, we met late last year. We met at the beginning of this year. We met again a couple of months ago and increasingly it seemed like it was possible for this to eventually happen or to finally happen. So that’s how we got here.”
Reflecting on the past few tumultuous weeks with Metro FM after he was suspended (and eventually let go) for using foul language on air, he admitted: “I put it to bed before it even started blowing up. When I saw the direction it was kind of taking, I figured I didn’t want to go back to that building, regardless of the outcome.”
On how he felt about how the situation played out, he added: “As I said in my post, right at the end, one of the reasons I am happy of the way it turned out because I felt they were making everything punitive as opposed to how do we fix this and move forward. So for me…I felt unfair labour practice, to be honest, cos if all you are doing as an employer is implementing punitive measures versus corrective measures, then nobody is winning.”
That said, he was overwhelmed by the support he received.
“I think, first things first, the support, to tell you the honest truth, was very overwhelming. You kind of have an idea of the support you have but you have no idea until you really see it like this. It has literally been four weeks of almost cult-like support. I think they (SABC) were probably as surprised as I was to the social media response. As I said, I know I got supporters and fans out there, I didn’t know it was this feverish, to tell you the honest truth. It’s very humbling, it’s overwhelming and it’s nice to know,” he added.
Of course, there were times where he had to call some fans to order on social media.
He admitted: “Sometimes fans don’t know when not to go overboard because in the process some started being offensive towards the SABC or towards my former colleagues and I don’t stand for any of that. So I had to reprimand some of them on social media; just to say listen I appreciate your support but I’m not going to stand by and watch you lynch people on social media in my name. Let’s be angry but not offensive and hateful.”
DJ Fresh also took away some life lessons from the incident.
“That’s always been my dad’s thing. It doesn’t matter whether you are wrong or right, make sure you see what the lesson is. For me, the first lesson would probably be to listen to your gut because in March already Something said to me, ‘Don’t sign this contract’.
"And I didn’t do that. We had a perfectly hot show and management decided to dismantle it in March. They got rid of Mpho (Letsholonyane)… We worked hard for two years to build that show. And it was solid and it had a lot of listers. So that was my first lesson.
“Another lesson for me has to be, it’s okay to have the courage of your convictions because a part of me said you I need a job so maybe let me bend over backwards and accede to everything they want. But another voice said to me, if you strongly feel that this is unfair then you have to stay the course.”
As the well-worn cliche goes, when one door closes, another opens.
And Big Dawg is excited to be back on air and in a timeslot, he’s comfortable with.
“I was doing afternoons at 5 FM. Then Gareth (Cliff) resigned and I was bulldozed into doing the breakfast show. At the time, I felt I had a good three to four years of afternoon shows to do. Even that inner voice said back then, ‘Don’t do it’. But I didn’t listen to it,” he reflected.
“But I’m back in the afternoons in a Pop-40 format. The new show will be me and Mantsoe Pout. I’ve been a fan of hers since she did Ankle Tap on YFM. But there’s an opportunity to work with her and I think she’s a brilliant broadcaster.
"I love working with opinionated women. Working with someone like her was a no brainer. And then there is a new kid, his name is Shannon Leibach. The irony is when we did presenter search for SABC3, Shannon was one of the kids we eliminated. I think he was in the Top 10 or Top 5. I eliminated him from a TV show and now he is part of my radio show. So it’s come full circle.”
The ‘Fresh on 947’ show will feature a mélange of music, comedy, social commentary and skits.
He added: “It’s generally a different audience to the audience at Metro FM. If anything, I’m reuniting with my 5 FM afternoon drive listeners, who have since left the radio station for 947. I think, for a lot of them, I will be a familiar voice. And between 6 pm and 7 pm, we will be doing DJ mixes.”
DJ Fresh continued: “Eventually, things work out is what I’m learning most. I feel much lighter and I can get my life back!”