The 5 Most Bankable “LEGENDARY” Broadcasters 2022

I wanted to do something different and personal this year when it came to choosing my Top 5 list of “Bankable Broadcasters” for 2022.  Instead of selecting fan favourites I decided to list 5 people in this industry that even with my 23 years in the industry, I still look up to as legends that have moulded the broadcasting industry in ways that continuously teach, enlighten and drive passion and encouragement within my own innovations and contributions to this medium I love so much.  There is no order from 5 to 1 this year, just legends.  Let’s look at them.

Tim Zunkel

I worked side by side with Tim at Tuks Fm, but Tim carved a unique way forward like a beast in this industry while the rest of us pursued our commercial-on-air dreams.  Tim went from being on-air at Tuks FM, to running Tuks FM, to managing 5FM, to becoming our 1st contemporary and directly effective “official” resident consultant and go-to man here in South Africa.  Tim does EVERYTHING, and what I still marvel at (like everyone else on this list) – never sweats the small or big stuff.  I can always call up Tim, or have an informal chat as we pass each other at work – Tim always has the time, and always has the answers.  Viva Tim.  Viva Tuks Alumni’s.  You’re a legend brother.

Neil Johnson

Alongside Neil, with the remaining people in this list – these are now legends that I had grown up as a post-pubescent teen to a middle-aged professional following their names and unashamedly fanboy-ing with respect, their literal sculpting of the broadcasting industry over the past 20+ years.

Neil is no stranger to the broadcast industry; he started his career in 1980 as a studio technician on Talk Radio 702, he has certainly come a long way as being one of the pioneers in the business of Radio.

Neil steps up to the defence, protection and progression of broadcasters – and is one of the very, very few leaders who genuinely respects and values talent.  Neil gives you his time.  And you don’t have to be trending on social media to get it.  You just have to be passionate, dedicated, and of course talented.  But mostly, ready to listen. 

Lyndon Johnson

Wherever Lyndon Johnson goes, there is always this blinding light of raw, gritty, getting down and getting his hand dirty – reconstruction of the broadcasting space around him.  Lyndon openly DOES NOT shy away, as a challenge beast, from obstacles and new frontiers in radio.  Once the industry started to really shift in 90’s, Lyndon was everywhere to be found.  His name is directly synonymous with radio in this country.  A man who cares nothing about politics and surface-level ascertainment.  He gets the job done. Always. 

Bob Mabena

I will always remember (and I understand that that is also partly a knee-jerk reaction to Bob’s passing) the countless conversations I would have with Bob as a fellow broadcaster in our years at Primedia Broadcasting.  They would always be on the balcony.  I would be having a smoke.  And Bob would always be between calls.  Legitimately hustling.  I would subconsciously stand there and marvel at Bob, as someone I would listen to as a kid on Radio Bop, specifically when I would visit my godparents in Rustenburg which is where Radio Bop would bleed through crystal clearly over into an apartheid-plagued South Africa.  He was amazing.  It was amazing.  To represent a sounding board and platform that in a way, predicted things and changes to come in newborn Mzanzi.

Regarded as the Voice of a Generation by TshisaLIVE, the late Bob Mabena is one of Radio’s biggest icons. His death dealt a blow on Mzansi radio, one we aren’t sure we will be recovering from any time soon. Bob had an amazing career successfully hosting shows on Kaya FM and Power FM.

He earned a place in the hearts of his audience, one that will not be forgotten.

Legendary radio personality Bob Mabena died from cardiac arrest, aged 51. Mabena’s cause of death was confirmed by his employers, Power FM. At the time of his death, Mabena was the anchor of the breakfast show on Power 98.7.

His career began in 1989 at Radio Bop in the Republic of Bophuthatswana, where he hosted afternoon and morning shows. He also had a music video show on Bop TV. He ventured into television during the three years he spent in the North West. Amazing facts about DJ Brian: The Munghana Lonene FM presenter Radio Metro station’s manager, Koos Radebe, gave him a job in the national radio station where he presented a variety of shows on television, including Pick a Tune and Studio Mix.

In 1996, he moved to 94.7 as a mid-morning host and also joined its management team. Kaya FM employed him in 1999 as a program manager and a morning show presenter. He was promoted to the post of Primedia business development manager at Group level, a position he held for two and a half years. He worked for SABC from 2007 to 2009 as the executive manager of commercial radio stations, where he was put in charge of Metro FM, 5FM, and GoodHope FM. Bob returned to Kaya FM as a breakfast show presenter, and he was entrusted with overseeing Gagasi FM and Heart FM as the director of MRC Radio.

Caren Du Preez

I have named Caren “The fixer”.  Caren has gone from station to station, like Metro FM, 5FM, and YFM, to name a few – distinctively and tangibly remodelled the mission and vision statements of a station, its business structure, and its programming model – that always has resulted in a bigger, better product.  From my “broadcaster-bird’s eye view”, this is almost unheard of.  A perfect track record that is imprinted everywhere Caren leaves her professional stamp of approval.  If you bleed the industry and medium, you have already felt the ripple effect of Caren’s cause and effect many times over.

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