UP alumnus Clement Manyathela: Making it BIG on radio

Posted on April 08, 2021

University of Pretoria (UP) alumnus Clement Manyathela is making it big on radio. Manyathela presents The Clement Manyathela Show during the 9am-12pm slot on radio 702, where he and together with different guests, tackle a wide range of topics, from health and corruption to politics and beyond.

The 30-year-old obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree at UP in 2013 and has worked as a reporter for more than nine years, spending many of those years reporting on politics.

“I was interning at Pretoria News and at SABC online when I heard of this new radio station that was being launched called Power FM. One of the managers at SABC advised me to apply; I had not even graduated at the time but had completed my studies. I went for interviews and when the station was launched, I was hired as one of the junior producers in the newsroom,” Manyathela says.

“From there I was promoted to field reporting. I left to join TV, and then I went back to radio and joined Eyewitness News. While working there, I was asked to stand in for Stephen Grootes on the Midday Report. I recall saying to the programming manager at the time, ‘Are you crazy? I’m a journalist on the ground, I cannot host a show!’ I ended up doing it and it went well, and later I was given The Clement Manyathela Show.” 

Manyathela hails from Vaalbank in Mpumalanga, and says growing up there was fun. “We played mantloane (playing house) with other kids on our street, hide and seek, and other games. I enjoyed my upbringing and I remember the community as being safe for us kids. However, there was a lack there, but it was not too pronounced. Only when you grow older you realise how tough life sometimes was, and how difficult it was for our parents to make sure we had food, clothes, attended school trips and could go to university afterwards.”

Manyathela says broadcast journalism is his calling, and he found that he could be more creative in radio journalism than print. When he chose to study journalism at UP [journalism is no longer offered at UP, but students can study Communication Management], he did not know much about it, but while studying he fell in love with the course.

He says as alumni it is important to avail oneself to inspire and mentor others. “We must share our experiences of life post-university; in general, and also with respect to our careers.”

Studying at UP back then was fun but also had its own pressures. “Coming from a village, I had never shared a class with white people. There was a culture shock when I arrived at UP. But it was great in that the support system was there. I used to attend tutor classes a lot because I often struggled with understanding concepts in the bigger class.”

He notes that UP is a respected institution and the quality of education is great; he thinks it has the best lecturers. “It is also an institution where one meets people from different backgrounds, and you are part of a community. That was important.”

Manyathela advises budding journalists who want to break into radio to go out to look for opportunities, to intern and do practical work because it is going come in handy. “Email people, call them; do not tire. You need to do that. We all need to start somewhere.”

- Author Xolani Mathibela

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