Radio diamond Nia Brown sparkles and makes her voice heard
Brown to co-host breakfast show on Y
At the age of 19, Nia Brown packed her bags and moved to Joburg in 2011 with a dream of taking over the small screen as an actor, but destiny had other plans for her.
Born Botlhale Baitsiwe, the 30-year-old diamond from Kimberley in the Northern Cape had honed her acting skills by acting in school plays. But she had no idea that a 12-year successful radio career was waiting for her in the City of Gold.
Having now been with Y [formally known as YFM] for seven years, hosting weekend slots and lunchtime shows, she has levelled up.
Brown will from Monday take over the youth station's popular breakfast show with co-host Okay Wasabi with their new show The Way Up. The duo has big shoes to fill, following in the footsteps of DJ Ankletap and Candice Coulsen, popularly known as Kandis Kardashian, who occupied the slot for the past eight years.
Where does the name Nia Brown come from?
When I was at campus radio, a friend of mine used to call me Botlhale Brown because of the colour of my eyes... so I went on air using that name. When I joined Y in 2014, I remember having a conversation with the team at the time and we were discussing how I would trademark my name because I realised that a lot of people would struggle to pronounce my name. So, I had to come up with something easy enough for people to remember. My other name is Rivonia– so I took the last part and trademarked it as Nia Brown.
How did you get into radio?
I had always wanted to do radio since I was in matric. When I first came to Joburg, I wanted to act but I also wanted to do something else... this is where radio came into the picture. I then gave my first shot at radio on Voice of Wits campus station during Wits's orientation week... I managed to get a radio gig and here we are today.
What kind of child were you?
I was a very shy and reserved child. I was a little miss goody-two-shoes and I still think I am.
What was your family dynamic like?
There are so many women in my family which I grew up around... something I consider a blessing. These are women from both my mom and dad's sides of the family. After school when no one was home, I would either go to my aunt's house or my grandmother's – so I grew up around warmth and a lot of company. The women in my family have taught and guided me into the woman I am today... every aspect of me is modelled after them. I was taught to be kind, to work hard for all that I want and to have good ethics.
What was your family's reaction when you told them you wanted to pursue a career in radio?
The support I got from my family was very motivating because not a lot of black families are understanding when they are told that you want to pursue a career in entertainment. It took a little convincing for my parents to agree to the type of career path I wanted to take but I'm glad that they now see how incredibly talented I am, and they couldn't be more supportive.
How were your first days on radio?
I was incredibly shy when I started out on Voice of Wits. I didn't really make friends, I used to keep to myself. Seeing that I would do the graveyard shift, I didn't need to interact with anyone, however, my friend Lucky guided me into becoming the presenter that I am today.
He would encourage me to break out of my shell. He would invite me out to hang out with his friends and he would slap me on the wrist whenever I wasn't engaging with anyone... I really appreciate him pushing me like that because I got to uncover who I am as a person.
How would you describe your journey from the beginning to date?
When I first arrived in Joburg, I was stunned at all the tall buildings and how packed and forever-busy Braamfontein was. I remember taking a walk around Braam and being amazed by the vicinity. I always knew that I was going to make it in life. I always knew that I was going to be someone influential in the entertainment industry because, for me, Joburg was my oyster – there was no way I wasn't going to dominate the radio space.
What have you learnt throughout the years?
[It's always important] to remember that the work speaks for itself. Also, it's not always the loudest person in the room that gets to be heard or makes an impact and the biggest teaching is that my presence in itself speaks volumes.
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