As a Radio Jock on prime youth radio station YFM, an Academic currently in the process of completing her Master’s degree in Media and African literature, as well as a voice over artist and opinionista, Zama Dube seems to have mastered being a modern, multi-faceted woman! Below, we spoke to the entertainer and academic on balancing her career and marrying her passions…
Full name: Zama Dube
Current title/company: Radio Presenter at Yfm, Voice-over artist and Speaker for Leadership2020
Educational background: Master of Arts (MA) in Media and African Literature, University of the Witwatersrand
Current city: Johannesburg
It could not have been easy to land a prime time slot in one of South Africa’s biggest youth radio stations! Could you take us through your journey to where you are now? What was your first stint in Radio and how did you land it?
I started doing radio at the age of 16, back then for community radio station “Durban Youth Radio”. I went on to begin my journey in university and in my first year joined the WITS campus radio station; VOW. It was then that I was scouted by radio veteran, Tom London, and started working for his Vodacom retail radio station Yebo Radio. In my final year I was asked by then 5fm Programmes manager, Vukile Zondi, to fill in for one of their absent jocks. I then submitted the live recording of that show to Yfm as a demo and was fortunate enough to start on-air training immediately.
You are known to have a passion for academia, politics and media– how have you managed to marry those passions?
I fell in love with global politics back in high school when I chose history as one of my electives. After converting from a pure LLB law degree to a BA Law in my second year of university, I was exposed to Politics, International Relations and African Literature. It was a natural progression choosing these subjects as my three majors for my undergraduate degree. Radio remained a constant passion all the while and a creative outlet while balancing my studies and serving students through the SRC Education sub-committee. I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to balance both radio and my academics thus never having to choose between the two. The result has been marrying all these realms into some kind of coherence and following what I believe to be my ordained path.
As a radio jock, tell us about your responsibilities in this role? Would you say you have a responsibility to act as a voice for the youth?
Every media personality has an individual path to follow and no one else can define this path outside of the individual. Some enter the space for fame, others for fortune and a few do so in order to serve humanity. I am one of the few that has always felt compelled to pursue a journey that would serve humanity in some kind of real way. Because I’ve been serving the youth since my high school years, my entry into the broadcasting world was propelled by that very mission statement. So yes, I do feel that given the opportunity to engage a medium as powerful as radio compels me to be responsible and to use it as a way to serve young people of colour.
As a woman studying towards her Master’s degree balancing a career as a radio jock and artist, it is evident that you cannot be boxed into a particular category – what advice would you give the Millennial South African woman balancing the different sides to her?
Our generation of women is really fortunate to belong to a climate of vast democratic possibilities. Due to this, we cannot afford to be complacent but we ought to constantly thrive to shatter limitations, boxes and any other patriarchal shackles. When you are driven by that level of awareness, the rest becomes easier.
Whilst studying towards a Master’s degree and balancing your career, what have been the biggest challenges or obstacles you’ve faced and how have you been able to overcome them?
Both aspects of my life are very demanding and as a young person who still wants to enjoy my twenties, I am forced to make a lot of other sacrifices to create a perfect balance. Sleep has probably been the biggest sacrifice in order to allow me to use my 24-hour day more effectively. So honestly, I just sleep less, work more and live more. I believe in balance so my career, academics and social life get equal amounts of my attention.
What is a typical work day like for you?
I usually have a morning call time for voice-over work. Straight after, I will probably have a campus talk at one of the institutions in the city. I’m back at my place around 4pm to freshen up, and get ready for my 7-9pm radio show. The rest of the night is often used to catch up on deadlines for my research writing.
What is most fulfilling about working in radio?
Having an honest and intimate conversation with my listeners every day of the week means I get to impact people with my voice, thoughts and views in such a powerful way. That type of influential magnitude is both mind-boggling and inspiring.
Advice for aspiring radio jocks and voice artists?
Be authentic, fearless and trust in the power of individuality.
Morning or night?
Both offer beautiful possibilities.
If you could have lunch with any woman, who would it be and what would you order?
I can’t choose just one. A combination of Oprah, Bell Hooks, India Arie, Lauryn Hill and Iyanla Vanzant. I’d probably order a glass of wine before looking through the menu.
I wish I knew how to… Comfort people in pain, in an instant.
African women are… Resilient
South Africa is… A melting-pot for diversity and endless possibilities
Worst money mistake… Every impulsive moment I bought more lipstick and clothes I didn’t need.
Best investment…Banking investments and share investments
Motivation in 3 words… Rather a quote that keeps my faith steady; “Not all who wander are lost…”