Duma FM remains the youngest radio station with just over 10 years of existence and has surpassed its competitors to become the most listened radio station in the country, according to the Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) statistics.
Notably so, such an amazing success story needs an appropriate radio setup; from a focused programs manager who will see how the presenters line-up, check trends, gauge their abilities and talents, so as to produce all the that sheer, informative yet entertaining radio.
Though a few pundits think Duma FM took a gamble to entrust such a huge role with the young talent in Tumisang Mothei alias Tsonono ahead of his seasoned peers and broadcasters such as Dignash, Thabo Osekeng, Thapelo Mhlauli among others, the young lad remains unfazed and resolute to deliver on his mandate.
Tsonono and his team continue to shape the Gaborone Block 7-based private radio station into consistent FM dial.
Mothei says he grew up like any kid with a dream to change society but little did he know that in his early teenage days he will have to migrate to the United States to come closer to finding out his vision.
“I was born, bred and buttered in Jwaneng some 32 years ago. I did my primary schooling at Acacia Primary School then moved to Gaborone in 2001 at Maru-a-Pula. I graduated in 2005, moved to Portland Oregon to do my grade 12 then college at a liberal arts institution called Whitman in Washington DC, US. I graduated with a BA in Philosophy in 2011. My childhood dream has always been to make a huge positive impression in society, I just didn’t know the how, nor did I know the what then,” recalls Mothei.
He further remembers that his first radio experience was in 2007 while studying in the US.
“I used to host a music show called the Killa Gorilla Lounge, which used to profile the latest house music tracks. The application process was not as rigorous, but it was then that I knew that “it’s where I wanna be and it’s where I should be.”
A childhood friend of mine, Fortune ‘Chew’ Bontsi was one of my most loyal listeners, though he was across the world schooling in Malaysia at the time,” he laughs.
Fast forward to 2014, Tumi was roped into Duma FM as a contributor at first, then later approached by the then Programs Manager, Donald Seberane to host the morning show.
“It was called the Morning Edition. That marked the beginning of my career as a talk-radio broadcaster. As a fast learner when the station took talents whilst other went on leave, I observed and became the captain.
“A programs manager takes stock of his or her human resources ebo a peka skeem. You ought to assess your talent pool and place presenters tactfully looking at strengths and delivery. It is however important to preserve as much as possible the genuineness of the individuals and play into their own inherent interests. Being a programs manager is like a game of chess.”
At just 32, how did he speedily ascend to the programme manager post after just 5 years on radio locally, Tumi explains that lady luck struck when Seberane recommended him when he became the now station manager.
“I was tasked with the responsibility following my predecessor’s ascension to the throne. He recommended that I fill the vacancy based on…I don’t know. I think he just threw a line and took a gamble. It remains a mystery to me. It can be tough to manage industry veterans like the ones you have mentioned. These are seasoned broadcasters with a vast knowledge and experience. My approach is to be non-assuming, unpretentious and respectful, while at the same driving my vision and drawing advises from those of yesteryears. Occasional consultation is key. We hardly have issues though. At the end of the day we share a common goal of being industry leaders in that which we do,” he noted.
Quizzed what has been the winning formula for his station to be consecutively rated number one, Mothei points at Duma FM’s work ethics, togetherness and being driven by shared goals.
“We hone on our strengths and employ a continuous process of improving ourselves. We stay abreast of current affairs and take time to study the environment around us. It is who we are, it’s what we do. The culture gives consistent in terms of our lineup. As far as leadership is concerned, we maintain an open-door policy at all time. We ensure that the leadership is reachable and available to all.”
With his station prone to losing young talents such as the likes of Kealeboga Botshabelo and Goaba Mojakgomo just to name a few, Mothei has vowed not to follow his compatriots who left for green pastures at the government enclave.
“Leave radio? Never. But say I did, hypothetically…well, though my achievements are modest, I would look back to say that I have contributed to scholarship on radio. The spirit of academia and good research is what I respect most, and I see more of it now from our crop of presenters. I would look back to say I have made the strife of local artists my own. I have brought issues of gender equality to the fore and have encouraged in my colleagues the use of innovation and finesse on radio,” said Mothei.
So, for now, it’s still going to be Uncle Chopsta in the afternoon drive time because he still holding his cylinders to make radio better.
“To make it to radio you need to be persistent. Keep knocking on doors until your knuckles hurt. LISTEN to radio — not just your own show but that of the competition, including regional and international personalities. Always keep an open mind and build on past experiences. To make it to radio you need to be ready to hear that ‘you suck’ but resilient enough to move past it. Lastly, to make it to radio you need to be yourself, and not your idol.”