Treasure, nearly lost to radio, is back on

VETERAN radio presenter Treasure Tshabalala smiles through events that would have made lesser mortals bitter - such as his abrupt removal from Metro FM more than a decade ago.

VETERAN radio presenter Treasure Tshabalala smiles through events that would have made lesser mortals bitter - such as his abrupt removal from Metro FM more than a decade ago.

At the time what seemed like a tsunami swept through the country's then number one radio station. It was an obsession with youthful audiences. Youth became the flavour of the moment. It swept everything in front of it aside.

Metro FM for the first time faced real and imminent competition with the launch of YFM. YFM's target audience was the youth. The youth formed a significant chunk of Metro FM's listeners, so in its wisdom management decided Tshabalala had to make way - experience, popularity with the listeners and everything else to boot.

"I took it in the spirit of advancement and the mood of the time," Tshabalala, pictured, reveals. "Fortunately I had other things I was doing at the time."

He admits, though, that it was "a big loss in a way because Metro FM was my home for 11 years".

Now the raucous Tshabalala is back on radio. In an ironic twist of fate he made his return to youthful Soweto community radio station Jozi FM four years ago.

Lacking the national radio footprint of Metro FM, Jozi FM sadly robs listeners on national airwaves of his mellowed, distinguished voice and schooled intellect in music choice.

But as the old adage goes, one man's loss is another's gain. And in this Jozi FM listeners are the benefactors where the veteran hosts a jazz session on Sundays between 6pm and 8pm and on Mondays, the blues at the same time.

So how did he land the job at the community radio station?

"Jozi FM had a slot for a jazz session and approached me, given my experience in radio. But I had move from my favoured R&B to jazz."

In between acting and being a voice artist, he transfers his skills, learnt over the years in radio, to youngsters at Jozi FM.

"The problem with today's youngsters is that they come into the industry 'already knowing' but those who come for advice I do my best to mentor," he says.

Then Tshabalala touches on the subject closest to my heart: the state of radio today. You have to be brain dead not to sense that radio is is not in a great state at present.

"During our days you had to be somebody special to be on radio. You had to go through a rigorous audition at which aspects such as language purity, voice quality and natural speech defects were judged.

"I don't know how they hire today but when we started it was a stiff industry in the sense that you couldn't just walk in." So has radio died?

"I wouldn't go as far as saying that but we have definitely taken a step back," Tshabalala says.

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