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Ultimate FM DJs fear axe

MASERU — Youth radio station Ultimate FM will on Tuesday unveil a new line-up of disc jockeys and presenters following auditions early this month.

The station will have nine new radio personalities, officials confirmed last week.

The auditions were held on August 3 at the Lesotho National Broadcasting Studios.

Four of them will be DJs and will start on Tuesday, but they are undergoing in-house training and under-studying the experienced DJs at the station.

The other five will be news readers and will start as soon as they finish their orientation.

The Sunday Express understands there was a brief meeting at the station on Monday to introduce the new recruits.

In that meeting a senior manager told the seasoned DJs like Miss P, Mr Biggz, J-Tagg, LLCool B, Ang-ca, Lexxie and Funky-el, Deeva, Dallas T and Diboza that they must help train the new recruits.

He proceeded to pair each DJ with a new recruit.

All seems fine at the station until you talk to the seasoned DJs at the youth-oriented broadcaster.

Sources say there is confusion as to what will happen to the members of the old team of DJs and presenters who are credited with making the station what it is today.

Sources say the DJs who are not under contract and make the majority of the station’s staff complement fear that they will soon be pushed out to make way for the new team.

One DJ who spoke on condition of anonymity told the Sunday Express that anxiety is high at the station.

He said so far members of the old team have not been told of their fate.

Some of the DJs were part of the auditions but have not been told whether they made the grade or not.

It is understood that only three DJs — Miss P, LL Cool B and Dallas T — have been offered contracts.

The three were seconded to the station from Radio Lesotho when Ultimate FM first went on air in 2006.

The rest, the source said, are still in the dark about their future at the station.

“The management has not said anything to us. They have not said a word and we are worried,” the source, a DJ who preferred anonymity, said.

Earlier this year the station went off air for about a day after management announced plans to dismiss presenters and DJs who did not have degrees in media studies. The Ministry of Communications intervened and promised to resolve the matter.

“The ministry told us that we will be given first preference when the recruitment of the permanent staff starts but it seems that the game has totally changed,” the DJ said.

“We believe we are on our way out.”

The DJs are also worried that they might be training people who will eventually take their jobs.

They are understood to be making frantic efforts to meet Communications Minister Mothetjoa Metsing.

“We are still trying to get hold of the minister so that we hear if the situation has changed,” the source said.

“We want to tell him what is happening.”

The ministry’s principal secretary, Tse’liso ‘Mokela, said some of those DJs had not been hired.

He said most of them were either volunteers or temporary workers.

Mokela also said he was not aware that the station had hired new presenters because the Public Service Commission had “not given me any contracts to sign as there have not been any interviews”.

Station director Lefu Manyokole confirmed there will be a new team but when asked what will happen to the current team he said he preferred the question be directed to ‘Mokela.

He said he was confident that the new staff will do a “fine job”.

“The processes of hiring someone in government takes a long time,” Manyokole said.

“However, the station is going to be officially launched on September 1 with new DJs and newsreaders.”

He said they were also planning training programmes with the British Broadcasting Corporation while some presenters will be attached to South African commercial radio station Metro FM soon.

Manyokole said he had assembled a team of individuals with degrees in education and psychology as well as those with diplomas in media studies but are “very talented”.

“Talent goes hand in hand with education,” he said.

Yet some of the aggrieved DJs feel that the new recruits are being fast-tracked before they fully acquire the skills of their new trade.

“Those people are just raw,” said another DJ who did not want to be named.

“Some of them are actually awful on radio,” he added.

“They need proper training otherwise they are going to embarrass the station and themselves.

“There has not been a proper hand-over and take-over.

“Some of the new guys can’t even pronounce properly and they are seeing a studio for the first time in their lives.

“And some of those are too old to work for a youth station like Ultimate FM.

“This station is for young people.

“It needs young people who can identify with the youth culture.

“I foresee chaos when they eventually go in front of a mike on their own.”

Some of the DJs and presenters say they feel used because they had always thought that when the time comes they will be employed first.

Most of them have been working as volunteers, hoping to get contracts when the opportunity arose.

“I would even struggle to pay rent and buy food for myself while working there,” another presenter said.

“We thought that things would fall into place as we were the first ones to make Ultimate FM what it is today.”

Meanwhile, Manyokole said the station is going to broadcast live two carnivals — the Econet Telecom Lesotho Morija Arts and Cultural Festival and Mangaung Arts and Cultural Festival.

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