Sunday, December 5, 2021

Getting nostalgic with Yarona FM’s Robbie Rob

In the world of football they have what they call the Golden Generation ÔÇô an exceptionally gifted group of players (with more or less the same age) whose achievements as a unit are projected to reach unprecedented levels.

If Yarona FM were a football club, the Class of 1999 that boasted the talents of Robin Chivadse, Luzboy, Brando, Miss T, Lieutenant and Big Duke would have qualified as their Golden Generation. They completely revolutionised local radio as we knew it back then.

“Re tshwere vibe (We’ve got the vibe)” as one of their tag lines went back then, encapsulated what they had brought to the local airwaves.

Sunday Standard Lifestyle got up close and personal with one of the leading talents of the generation, Robin ‘Robbie Rob’ Chivadse to reminisce about the good-old-times.

Fifteen years after hitting the local airwaves and building a respectable career, Chivadze’s main focus has shifted to running his own events management company, Ventura.

But it was as a radio presenter and DJ that he earned his stripes.

We take a chronological look at his illustrious radio career from August 1999 when he first landed in the “very hot” Gaborone from Cape Town.

He had been studying at the University of Cape Town (UCT) where he crossed paths with would-be Yarona FM founders, Percy Raditladi and Dumi Lopang.

He jokes about the time he was “house hunting” in the advertiser and picked a house in Mahalapye because he thought the place was within the city’s outskirts. “I called Dumi (Lopang) and asked ‘dude, how far is Mahalapye from Yarona FM?”

Chivadze says due to his experience with radio at UCT he was the natural choice to help start the new station.

Being a DJ, his knowledge for music also helped. “I was an encyclopaedia for music.” He says it was tough carving out an identity so South Africa’s youthful radio station, Y FM, played a crucial role in defining the route Yarona FM would take.

“The rules of broadcasting as far as freedom of speech was concerned, were not properly defined,” he explains, “or if they were, guys just decided to flout them anyway. Guys would just go on air and say whatever they felt like saying.”

Luzboy may have been a perfect example. The controversial presenter would be constantly reprimanded for pushing the freedom of speech to its boundaries.

But in the end, it was what made Yarona FM popular with their target audience.

Chivadse first cut his teeth as a drive-time host but would soon be swapped to the breakfast slot. “Initially I was against the idea because I was doubling as a night club DJ so it would be difficult to wake up that early in the morning,” he says.

His love for radio is evident in the passionate way he articulates the experiences he had as presenter.

In 2009, after a decade with Yarona FM, Chivadze felt he needed a challenge. He had nothing more to prove as a presenter. The ‘new’ Duma FM came knocking and he took up a job as the station’s consultant.

“I had to give the station the direction it needed in order to be successful as a business,” he says. Being an outspoken Liverpool supporter he draws the analogy, “I had to pull a Brendan Rodgers.” But while consulting for Duma FM his urge to get back on air got the better of him.
“I had to lead by example and show the presenters which direction to take,” he tries to justify. A brilliant interrogator himself, perhaps one of his most memorable on-air moments at Duma FM was his interview with DIS director, Isaac Kgosi.

“He had been a bit of an enigma and we used the opportunity to strip him naked and show the man behind the perceived image.”

Finally Lifestyle asks the radio presenter/DJ/businessman to give us his ultimate radio line-up. He takes a contemplating gaze at the ceiling, as if drawing his next answer from up there, “it would be I and Luzboy for breakfast-Tumie (Ramsden) for midmorning- Simba/Otiz Frazer for afternoon- Owen Rampha for drive time ÔÇô and Big Duke for night shift.” He advises people who used to listen to Yarona FM ‘back-in ÔÇôthe-day’ to tune into the station on Thursdays between 2200 hours and midnight to get “nostalgic” with him and Dollar Mac.

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