Thursday, September 25, 2014

Purpose driven SABC Talk Show host - Siphiwo Nzawumbi

Siphiwo Nzawumbi is no stranger at all to television viewers in South Africa. He is currently one of the most active Talk Show host on Social Media. I guess, media just excite him so much that he uses the platform to engage with his followers.

Forget the make-up, Lighting and big cameras, this gentleman of media is a human being too, with dreams just like everyone else. I hope you get inspired reading this interview.

Brief history of your upbringing

I was born into a family of four, my mom, dad, elder brother and I. We were an average family in Umtata, a small town in the former Transkei region of the Eastern Cape where my mother worked as an office clerk and my father, a taxi owner. After the unfortunate death of both my parents, my brother and I relocated to Mount Frere in the villages to stay with my maternal grandparents. I am from such a loving and supportive family were I was inspired by my grandmother to get an education, believe in myself and work hard towards making my dreams come true.
I am always told of how talkative I was as a child, how I always managed to be the centre of attention. Nothing really changed when I finally went to school as I was always punished for being noisy and giggling in class. Surprisingly, popularity followed as impersonating my teachers was one thing I enjoyed. In High School, my History teacher advised me to join the debating team which I later led as captain. That’s when I realised I wanted to join the media industry as a broadcaster.

Please describe your day at work and what does your job entails?

I start my day mid-mornings unless I am working on radio which requires pitching up in the early hours of the morning. This is a blessing in a way as I manage to escape the traffic rush of Johannesburg. In most days, I start by attending editorial meetings with my Executive Producer and the rest of the team. We conceptualise ideas, develop story ideas and brainstorm on possible episode ideas. I also work very close with my producers as my job requires me to be more involved in the planning process of any broadcast. This then helps improve and sharpen my catch on television production and learn in the process.

What inspired you to pursue a career in Broadcasting Journalism?

I had a bit of a challenge deciding on what I wanted to study after High School, I was caught up between Law (which was my family’s imaginary dream for me) and Journalism, but eventually made the right decision after being advised to pursue passion more than just a job. I always knew that I wanted to tell other people’s stories and be in a living, growing and challenging working environment. For the life in me I just couldn’t see myself appealing in court and doing cross examinations for a living. It was after I read my very first news bulletin on a Campus radio station that I fell more and more in love with broadcasting. I went ahead, studied Versatile Broadcasting and later mainstream Journalism. This was the beginning of a life story with no end.

Who would you say played an important role in helping you realise your dreams?

I believe my grandmother was my number one fan and a great source of inspiration. She didn’t have much of an education but she believed that in me, there was a leader and special somebody. When I would travel in High School for my debating tournaments, she would prepare and support me on every trip. Even when I got awards for public speaking, she would celebrate me and say “iDegreezangomsosana”. I still don’t know what she meant by that, but I suspect it was something along the lines “Future Leaders”. When I finally went to University, it was a bit difficult financially, but she pulled all strings together with my aunt to ensure that I had the required university entrance tuition.

What are some of the career challenges your faced/or face on daily basis?

There is a saying “You are as good as your last gig” and that is exactly my challenge in my line of work. Every show is like an audition, there could be somebody watching or listening to you for the first time, and in a matter of seconds, they can decide on whether you are worth their attention or not. You constantly have to review your work, adapt to certain standards and always strive to excel. One of my challenges is that I am a perfectionist and so I tend to be too hard on myself. I also do not deal well with unpreparedness, I stay up late nights sometimes and it becomes a setback for me when things don’t come together as planned. Another good challenge is the fact that the world of broadcasting is living, one minute you are on the west side and the other on the opposite direction. I am constantly learning to be always expectant of change at any given time. Sometimes, the plan changes a few minutes before going on air and one has to adapt quickly with those changes.

What comes first for you between passion and money?

Definitely PASSION, when you are passionate, you excel and go the extra mile to ensure you’re a success. Money then comes as a result of excelling. I learned that if you live to chase money, you will age tired and miserable but when you do what you’re passionate about, you endure hardships easily and gain enough credits to earn you all the money in the world.

Please list five important things one should do to secure a successful career in Broadcasting Journalism.

1. First before anything, I think one should have that curiosity of a cat- Any broadcaster’s lead way to complacency begins the day you loose interest on what’s happening around you. Be curious, do your research and always be well informed about trending subjects. After all, people take what you say more seriously than the next person.

2. Be willing to learn and be taught- The “I am always right and know it all” attitude never works in broadcasting. Every day you will learn something new and some days what you thought was correct all your life will be challenged and corrected- be open to such.

3. Be very quick to get over things and move on- You are most likely to work with a team throughout your career life. Now and again there will be disagreements and sometimes quarrels, always seek to reach a resolve and live peacefully.

4. Learn as many languages as possible- A successful broadcaster is one who is able to communicate to as many people as possible so it’s always wise to learn as many.

5. Review your work-The world of broadcasting is not only wide and competitive but it is fast-paced too. In that, one can easily get lost in the rush and forget to invest in themselves or check if they are still on track. I always find it wise then to check yourself, look at your weaknesses and see how you can overcome them with your strengths.

How can aspiring journalist get in touch with you should they need advice?

Facebook: SiphiwoNzawumbi

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