Radio DJs are fast becoming some of the biggest starts in the country. One of these DJs is 5FM’s Stephanie Be, who hosts the weekday evening show of 10pm – 1am. She hosts the New Music Nation and is the one to hear all of the new tracks added to the station’s playlist first. I caught up with her and discussed her humble beginnings in radio and her now-flourishing career.
For those who don’t know, how did you get into radio?
I was at the University of Stellenbosch, and I missed being involved in something “musical.” I dedicated years to playing a crazy amount of musical instruments and singing, so I felt like I needed to try something different. I joined the campus radio station, and then it all happened really quickly. I got a job offer from Good Hope FM in Cape Town, and then the offer from 5FM followed a couple of years later.
Where did your passion for broadcasting begin?
I wish I could say that I had been dreaming of being a radio presenter since I was a kid, but that isn’t how it happened. I have, however, always wanted to be involved in the broader “music industry” for as long as I can remember. I am deeply in love with every facet of music, so it was a short jump to fall in love with radio.
You host the New Music Nation on 5FM. What is the best part of premiering the latest local and international music?
It makes me feel incredibly special and privileged to be able to introduce someone to a brand new song or a brand new artist that they’ve never heard of before. Every now and again I’ll also get a tweet thanking me for playing local/new/alternative music on my show because they’re now a massive fan of a brand new artist… and it makes me happy to know I helped make that musical connection happen.
How easy is it for you to spot a hit?
I’d like to think that I’m pretty good at spotting a hit. The most recent example would be Echosmith “Cool Kids.” I was playing that track on my show about 6 months before anyone even took notice of them! I have had some artists ask me for advice on what songs they should release to radio next. I would never interfere with an artists creative process though, but I would definitely be able to listen to a few different songs and be able to advise them on which would work best on 5FM.
What’s the most challenging thing about your job?
Personally, the fact that I am completely alone in studio and on air… so I essentially have to talk to myself for 3hrs, at least I know I’m super comfortable being alone with myself. The job can also be super stressful sometimes, if you’re having a bad day, you can never really let it reflect on air. I remember going through a pretty horrific breakup an hour before I was due to be on air, I had to pull myself together and do that show with a smile on my face (even though I was bawling my eyes out every time I switched the mic off).
What is the best piece of advice you can give someone who wants to start out in radio?
It is absolutely essential that you go out and get on air experience somewhere. There isn’t anything you can study that’ll get you a job as a radio presenter. Most radio presenters on commercial radio stations have gone through campus or community radio, but these days there is an internet “radio” station around every corner so it won’t be too difficult to find somewhere to practice.
Where do you see your career in five years’ time?
This is a tough one! Radio is a difficult career to have if you’re looking for stability, because it’s based on trends, so you could be popular one year, and then nothing the next. Ideally I’d love to be on day time radio and be hosting one of the most popular shows in the country.
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