Radio presenter, MC and podcaster, Keabetswe Boy shares candid details about her broadcasting journey and her new gig on popular station 5FM.
By: Gift Musa Mqwashu
Keabetswe Boya went from Soshanguve, Pretoria, to shattering the ceiling and climbing the infamously inaccessible radio broadcasting ladder.
After building a name for herself on campus radio, Tuks FM, where she won SA radio Award for a drive-time show, she now hosts weekend shows on 5FM, Saturday and Sunday (14h00 – 17h00).
“Joining 5FM is a new reality that I am still trying to settle into,” she tells Blacklight. “I have great respect for radio as a medium, and I realise the big difference between campus radio and commercial radio. I believe the ‘real’ work has just begun.”
She continues: “Being on a platform like 5FM comes with a lot of responsibility. It’s not just about being a household name or being mentioned in a line-up with famous DJs; it’s about being a voice for young people. This comes with a lot of responsibility, and I am ready for the challenge.”
Kea (@keaboya) graduated from the University of Pretoria with a BA in Psychology and is currently studying towards an Honours Degree.
Campus radio, Tuks FM is where her career as a broadcaster first took shape. She reveals that she never thought about a radio career because she was raised to follow the traditional career paths and seek stability. However, radio has always been part of the fabric of her life.
“I grew up with my family listening to the radio, and I’d always listen to the radio on Sunday afternoons. When I got to varsity, I was doing radio as an extracurricular activity.”
Kea was still in Tuks FM doing her shows when she continued to send her demos across various commercial radio stations.
January 2021, she received a life-changing WhatsApp message from the 5FM station manager saying they would like to meet with her.
“I met him, and he said to me, ‘we would like to offer you a show,’’ she beams.
“You won’t always love what you do, but your commitment to the work is what makes you show up. I am very grateful for the experience because that enabled me to learn what committing to something is, even when you don’t see the benefits as soon as you would like,” she adds.
Kea believes the best ingredient of a good broadcaster is understanding that media plays a big role in society, and they always put the needs of the audiences first.
“The understanding that you are firstly there to serve people is important. You must not get into this industry thinking you want to be a celebrity. Maybe that may come, but it’s mostly about serving.”
The DJ believes it is vital for broadcasters to learn how to connect with people through storytelling.
“We live in a society where many people are in groups, but there is still so much loneliness lurking in the background. Radio is a medium where you can connect with people through storytelling and helping them understand that their experiences matter.”
She adds: “the youth of today is very different from the youth of twenty years ago. They need people that understand them and can relate to the challenges that they face.”
Over the years commercial radio stations have been panned by audiences for recycling old talent and hiring celebrities and influencers instead of scouting for new talent.
Kea believes it’s important to have more young and up-and-coming voices on prime radio to connect with young listeners.
“People always speak about opening up the industry and what 5FM did [hiring many young and unknown DJs] was to show that the idea of gatekeepers is not a thing anymore”, she explains.
“We have a responsibility as a youth station to make sure that young people want to tune in, and we can do that through the content we produce, the music we play and all the other elements.”
She continues: “Give young people opportunities, even if it’s just for a year to prove themselves!”
“We (as young people) also need to understand that when we get into these spaces, we don’t instantly peak. We need to serve our time. Be willing to be a freelancer or a volunteer for as long as you can.”
The DJ also believes that the current take-over of influencers is not so much of a threat to the industry, as talent will always override popularity.
“It sucks for extremely talented people who work on campus or community radio are overlooked because they don’t have the right amount of numbers [followers]” she says.
When she is not on the radio, Kea spends time curating her podcast Inside Out, which she started last year.
“I believe that when you change within, what is around you changes as well. Inside Out is a podcast aimed at helping individuals develop from within so that the world around you can be better.”
“I have aspirations of encouraging people; even though we live in a hustle culture, we should never forget ourselves in the process. Take moments in your daily life to connect to yourself.”
Kea shares that she was diagnosed with clinical depression when she was 17 years old and has since been deliberate with taking care of herself.
“I learned and was empowered with tools on how to take care of myself from an early age. In hindsight, you may view it as a sad story, but I am grateful because it meant that my emotional intelligence had to be more than that of my peers, and I also had to be intentional with taking care of myself.
“I need to learn how to talk to myself nicely- self–talk is important. Even now, I am still in that process of encouraging myself and talking to myself in this transitioning period moving from being on campus radio to being in a [more] public platform.”