All ears: We catch up with MetroFM DJ and UP grad Nthabeleng Matela

Posted on August 11, 2020

Award-winning radio personality and University of Pretoria alumna Nthabeleng Matela tells Primarashni Gower about her career, and offers her thoughts this Women’s Month on the role that media can play in tackling gender-based violence.

PG: Tell us about yourself and your educational qualifications.

NM: I am the host of The 4AM Club on MetroFM, as well as an emcee and an Opulent House DJ. I have a BCom Economics degree, but I left my career as an analyst to pursue my passion for radio full-time. As a little girl growing up in Carletonville, I used to ask myself where the voices inside the radio came from. Fast-forward years later, and I’ve answered my own question – I am that voice!

PG: How did you come to be involved in radio?

NM: My career has been an adventure. I changed jobs quite a lot – after graduating, I worked as a junior data analyst in various industries. But as Dr Joe Dispenza [researcher and author of Evolve Your Brain] says: “Knowledge is power, but knowledge about yourself is empowerment.” I am grateful that I came to a point in my life when I decided to pursue my true purpose and passion: connecting with people via radio.

The defining moment in my life came in 2018 when I applied to TuksFM, even though I was already a graduate and working full time. I started my radio career doing graveyard slots – 1 to 3am or 3 to 5am – and eventually moved to the overnight slot, from 7 to 10pm. It didn’t matter how tired I was when I walked into the station – every night when I walked out, I felt alive. In January 2019 I resigned from my job to work at campus radio full-time. I knew I needed to focus all my energy on it to get the experience I needed. A few months later, I started hosting the Drive Show on TuksFM, from Monday to Friday between 3 and 6pm.

In 2020, I won the award for Best Afternoon Drive Presenter (campus) at the 2020 South African Radio Awards, and was nominated for Best Drive Show and Best News Bulletin Reader. I have since joined MetroFM as a presenter and a DJ.

PG: What are your aspirations?

NM: I want anything that I do to represent the truest and highest expression of myself.

PG: What are some of the challenges of your job, and what keeps you motivated?

NM: I treat every contrasting experience as a learning opportunity. Lockdown is the perfect example of a challenge in my job, but it has forced me to expand my thinking on how to connect with people. My industry has also advanced by creating an opportunity for people to broadcast from home. Some might say that not being able to broadcast from the studio is a challenge; another would say technology has created the opportunity for one to work from home – same scenario, different perspective. What keeps me motivated is maintaining an optimistic perspective on everything I encounter.

PG: What has been the highlight of your career thus far?

NM: The first time I DJ’ed live on radio and TV at the same time – since joining MetroFM, I have had so many opportunities, one of which was DJing live on a MetroFM-SABC1 simulcast.  I have been blessed to DJ on other entertainment channels such as TRACE Africa, TRACE Urban, MTV Base and Channel O. It’s true when they say, one moment in your life can change everything.

PG: How do you manage your career and family life?

NM: I believe that a balanced life involves family time as much as it involved career time. No man is an island; family should be a great part of the journey, and that makes a career even more exciting. I make time for everything that matters to me.

PG: With women’s issues in the spotlight this month, how do you think gender-based violence should be eradicated?

NM: Radio and TV content is a powerful tool, and there isn’t enough content that encourages young men to be “good men”. Lots of programmes don’t show men in a positive light. People consume a lot of the kind of content that shows men being violent, or that condones men abandoning their family. This subliminally reinforces the same narrative. If more knowledge is shared on “how to be a good man”, that would become the new narrative and cultivate a new mindset among men.

PG: What advice would you give to women today?

NM: Believe in your authentic power. Each of us carry a seed (a talent or gift) – nurture that seed by believing in it. Look at every challenging experience as an opportunity to become a greater version of yourself. Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire. Lastly, don’t just count time; make your time count.

Follow Nthabeleng Matela on Instagram at @mat_elle

- Author Primarashni Gower

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