Our “So you want to be…” weekly series aims to help you in the process of choosing a career. We will be speaking to a practising professional to tell us about their field of work. This week, we speak to 26-year-old Sibongile Mafu who is a sports presenter at KFM in Cape Town.
Live SA: When and how did you get into radio?
Sibongile Mafu: I worked at Rhodes University’s campus radio station, Rhodes Music Radio, during my journalism studies from 2007 until 2010. I was then approached by the general manager of Primedia Broadcasting Cape Town, Karl Gostner, at a career day at Rhodes in 2010. I eventually graduated and moved to work at Primedia as a videographer in 2011. I filmed and shot videos for CapeTalk and KFM. I then moved to being a content producer. Very much behind-the-scenes stuff.
Live SA: What did you learn at Rhodes?
Sibongile: I graduated from Rhodes University with a journalism and media studies degree. I specialised in television broadcasting, so in terms of practical skills, I can operate a camera, I can write scripts, produce, direct and edit for news and documentaries, mainly. In the final two years of a degree you choose to specialise, but through the whole programme, you’re armed with as many tools as possible to comfortably be able to work in print, broadcast and new media. We lived like reporters essentially.
Live SA: What was your first job in radio?
Sibongile: The Music Show on Rhodes Music Radio in 2007 – I was 18. It was not a paying job. But you are interviewed and hired, to get experience in the radio environment.
Live SA: What does your work at KFM involve?
Sibongile: I wake up at 4:30am every weekday morning to be at the studio by 5:30am. Show starts at 6am. I have an incredible team of sports reporters behind me in the form of EWN and they gather the stories and sound bytes. I write and compile the bulletin for on-air and read it using the sound they have supplied. We’re in constant communication as a team – chatting about breaking sports stories. Even though a reporter is assigned to a story, I still like to go because it helps with the on-air storytelling for listeners. I go and watch a game so that I can tell the reader about the atmosphere in the stadium.
Live SA: What are some of the biggest challenges in your job?
Sibongile: Being a woman working in sport is tricky because people find it hard to take you seriously or they question why you’re into sport “when you’re a girl”. But my work speaks for itself. Because I’m part of the biggest breakfast show in the Western Cape, I have to wake up every morning with my game face on, pun intended.
Live SA: What is the most satisfying aspect of your job?
Sibongile: I get up every morning and reach over a million people in the Western Cape, it’s a tangible difference in peoples lives. And watching sport for a living is not terrible.
Live SA: Can one make good money in sports presenting?
Sibongile: It’s not about money. The money will come, like in any other career. You must just capitalise on the opportunities that come your way. I realised there was a need for people to help fill in when others were on leave or sick and stepped up and became the person who filled in. I’m a freelancer so I don’t just do only this. I write for magazines, too, like Marie Claire and Cosmopolitan. I [also] have my own blog. It has given me time to explore my other passions.
Live SA: What would be your advice to someone who wants to make it into sports presenting?
Sibongile: Talk to people who love sport. Find communities where you can engage, debate, and write about it. Campus and community radio stations are a great place to get experience. If you can find a mentor, do it. They’ll be able to help you refine your skills.
Follow Sibongile on Twitter: @sboshmafu