RADIO DJ Fresh has mixed the ‘msunery’ on his previous radio station and moved on to the greener pastures of Highveld Stereo. Phumlani S Langa takes in Fresh On 947 while recounting the man’s most pivotal moments behind the mic and decks.
From the turntables to the radio booth, DJ Fresh has been one of the most popular brands in broadcasting. We retrace his career so far and review his latest show on Joburg radio station, 947. Let’s start before the Big Dawg, real name Thato Sikwane, was so big – not in size as Fresh is a large man – but before he garnered the social stature that saw his show trend long before it aired.
DJ Fresh has had his foot on the neck of the game since 1997. The 46-year-old with the booming voice from Botswana has quite the presence and a playful nature.
I ran into him back at Metro FM a few months ago while speaking to sports broadcaster Mpho Letsholonyane. He kept trying to throw her off her responses by using the in studio AP system and jokingly interrupting her a few times.
I remember when Fresh and Thato Mataboge held it down in the mornings on YFM’s Unrestricted morning show with their fly by the seat of your pants style which he has kept through the years. He’s no stranger to being suspended, and has been thrown off air for his commentary and use of language. Yet he remains an adored man in the media space.
This guy has watched the House music scene change over the years and he has managed to stay right in the mix. We tend to forget that he has explored every avenue of House. I recall his Fresh Goes Electro album.
The man had white people on the East Rand eating out of the palm of his hand, the one not swaying the party with the cross fader. I wasn’t feeling that too much but I respect what he was able to do to the streets with it.
He has collaborated with the likes of Glen Lewis and through his Big Dawg Productions company he and DJ Euphonik (Themba Nkosi) also formed a memorable duo with their FEU parties which were quite a jump.
Even though he’s an experienced producer, he keeps his eyes on the youth and his beats are peppered to lure them.
947 GETS REFRESHED
THE FRESH DRIVE, MONDAY TO FRIDAY AT 3PM
So the Big Dawg was fired by Metro FM in July over Fresh’s “foul language” on air. This was after a complaint was lodged with the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of SA alleging that he used the word ‘msunery’, an adaption of the Zulu swear word, in response to a listener on air. Listeners disapproved on social media for a few days saying that they would leave with Fresh.
947 watched with anticipation as Metro released its MVD, most valuable DJ, and the station swooped in with an offer he clearly couldn’t refuse. Mantsoe Pout joined his team as co-host with Shannon Leibach on traffic on the drive time slot which meant the 947 line-up was reshuffled. A few people are moved down the roster.
He took to the airwaves at a station that I thought was quite white but clearly they’re trying to change that. He has kept the interactive aspects of his show which have been a common thread throughout his work over the years.
This station has even rebranded its famous cycle challenge but I just wish they would rethink the song selections because the pop centric approach gets rather routine, really quickly.
Easily regarded as a forefather of the House movement locally, DJ Fresh has brought along with him one of the most celebrated radio segments in the country, the Fresh Ultimix, which sees him tap a local DJ for a half-hour set, played on the show. He did this at 5FM where he pretty much carried that station towards garnering popularity along with another firebrand, Gareth Cliff who took care of the mornings.
Those were good times man.
There’s a fun segment called Kidsvice where children send voice notes and offer advice on the predicament of the day, drawing on their innocence and at times unintentional humour which makes for light listening. It’s quite refreshing to hear a child’s take on something such as bullying.
Any show he does on any station stays rooted in the minds of the listeners long after his run ends. I could speak about Fresh in the same sentence as people like John Robbie or easily compare any of his shows to memorable radio brands such as the prolific The Bridge with Leslie Kasumba or Full Clip with Sizwe Dhlomo and Scoop Makhathini, both on YFM years ago. I haven’t checked for any DJ on 94.7 since the controversial duo of Revin John and Lloyd The Brain who to me were like Butch Cassidy and Sundance of the airwaves.
I’m not going to lie to you, listening to a fiery DJ who might say something that gets themselves thrown off the radio is what I look for in a DJ.
Fresh has that by the boat load. Speaking about boats ...
OH SHIP! AND THE INTERCONTINENTAL PROWESS OF FRESH
This guy is synonymous with the party life. He plays for students, young professionals and anyone who is down to listen and groove.
He played a big role in the Oh Ship! cruise party with some of his favourite deejay buddies.
With news headlines, there have been rumours around his fidelity to his wife and some of the shenanigans he may or may not have gotten up to on this boat.
He is still married.
The man has travelled the world with his music, visiting places such as Miami, London, Cape Town, Moscow, Brisbane, Ibiza, Leeds, Durban, Gaborone, Birmingham, Dubai, Montreal and Melbou rne. His talents have seen him share stages with a string of vaunted masters of spin, including legends such as DJBooth, Little Louie Vega, Armand Van Helden, Oskido, Ready D, Vinny Da Vinci, Christos, Black Coffee and even Jazzy Jeff.
He has never been afraid to address any social issues or even current affairs and he’s always possessed a shrewd perception and delivers it with a light hearted sinicism. It’s inevitable that he’ll probably get iced and placed on the bench again. But one thing’s certain, his cult status following will go where he does.
Any station that loses the freshness probably ends up regretting the msunery of dismissing him.