Radio veterans pay tribute to Baird

Talk show host Rowena Baird is no more
Talk show host Rowena Baird is no more

Late radio veteran Rowena Baird, who lived a consistently principled life from the first time she was on air to the last show she did three weeks ago, was a rare quality in the broadcasting industry.

These are the words of another battle-scarred radio presenter, Nothemba Madumo, who worked with Baird before the new South Africa in the late 1980s.

Baird died on Friday after a long battle with colon cancer . She was 50.

Madumo, who presents a jazz show on Metro FM on Sunday evenings, said she will remember Baird as someone who was generous and loved people.

"She had strong African roots in her and was a spiritual person," Madumo said. "She was very generous and always wanted to host. A lot of us in the industry would spend long periods without seeing each other, and the next we meet it will be at her house.

"My last words to her would be, 'thank you for being true to who you were and being an honest person'."

Madumo said she met Baird at Radio Bop and later worked with her at the SABC in Joburg.

"When we came to Joburg she took over from Tim Modise as a talk show host. She later went to work for P4 down in Cape Town but we continued seeing each other.

"She had such a positive spirit that she would even make jokes and laugh when she was in hospital during her tough days suffering from cancer ," she said.

Modise said he met Baird briefly in the early 1990s when he was on his way out of Metro FM but then became friends with her as they had common friends.

"She was a cheerful character who spent time perfecting her craft. She was a dedicated professional, friendly and a kind human being. I looked forward to her hospitality as she liked hosting us," he said.

Modise said the last time he saw her earlier this year she was happy and "I got a sense that she was bouncing back to good health".

One of Baird's long-time friends and colleague, Ike Phaahla, said he was shocked to hear about her death.

"I was talking about her this morning (Friday) saying I needed to go see her or give her a call. I had not spoken to her in three weeks and I was wondering how she was," said Phaahla.

He said he had called in on SAfm three weeks ago when Baird did her last show to bid farewell to her listeners.

"I called in and spoke to her. She seemed to be enjoying herself and doing well. I am glad to have met her as she touched a lot of lives in a positive way," he said.

According to a statement released by the SABC, Baird also had a stint on TV where she presented a series of voter education programmes and was a co-presenter of The Breakfast Club in the late 1990s.

Baird will be buried on Saturday in Parktown.

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