Taxi drivers choose radio stations for their passengers

Passengers listen to the radio station chosen by a taxi driver. Most drivers listen to Ukhozi FM or to Lesedi FM.

Passengers listen to the radio station chosen by a taxi driver. Most drivers listen to Ukhozi FM or to Lesedi FM.

Ukhozi is a mixture of comedy, news and music. There are funny skits about people looking for jobs or for handymen. Sometimes the DJ will come with a real gem.

Last year DJ Sbu asked listeners about their relationships with their uncles. One man called in and said his unemployed uncle always waylaid him on the way to school. The uncle, whom everyone in the family was tired of feeding and housing, would eat his nephew's sandwich and take his lunch money.

Lesedi FM on the other hand has an institution called Chomane Chomane. He goes on and on about soccer. Soccer-mad taxi drivers swear by his predictions and find his trite humour the best in the land.

Now, if you tune in to Chomane, you have to take his regular fans' opinions about everything and nothing on earth.

A fan from Free State is a faithful contributor. It does not matter what the topic for the day is, he has an opinion. He can expound on cholera, HIV-Aids, child grants, police brutality and even newborn babies. He will come wading in to do battle and to advise listeners about some homespun philosophy that is impractical.

When I mentioned this to Auntie Emma, she said her radio station also has a Mr Know It All. I was surprised since Auntie Emma has highbrow tastes and listens only to SAfm.

She said lonely, housebound people have time to call in. These talkative people simply regurgitate what someone said in another talk show.

She, who knows everything, said these people recycle one opinion around the radio stations which results in erroneous opinion polls. Lazy pollsters think that people believe in something they spout on TV, whereas it is a few people who hog the airwaves.

Yesterday, I was in a taxi to Joburg from Germiston. The driver had on an unfamiliar radio station, one where black DJs speak like Americans.

The DJ floated a topic to the listeners and then invited callers. That is when his troubles began.

A man called Orlando (I understand the very active ones have fan names like celebrities) called in after every caller.

The DJ battled to contain Orlando. He spent precious time begging Orlando to calm down.

He would tell Orlando that he was number four in the queue, but somehow Orlando would furiously call in to refute the opinion of those ahead of him.

There was not much time for music or the topic because Orlando monopolised the mike.

Auntie Emma says DJs cannot afford to blow off fans like Orlando because it is callers like him who break the ice.