Bid weekday morning blues goodbye as comedian Skhumba and veteran broadcaster Thomas Msengana prepare to dominate the airwaves with their new show Thomas and Skhumba in the Morning.
Radio enthusiasts will have you know that chemistry between co-hosts is as rare as finding a partner who ticks all your love languages. Quite a mushy analogy, but you get where I'm going, right? For radio legend Thomas 'Bad Boy T' Msengana — whose impressive repertoire includes South African radio stations such as YFm and Metro Fm, and comedian extraordinaire Skhumba — on-screen chemistry is the least of their worries. Both are humorous, shoot from the hip and if you're generally sensitive, their brutally honest nature might rub you up the wrong way.
Depending on which side of the fence you're on, April is usually a nerve-wracking time in South African radio — schedules, shows and on-air personalities get reshuffled! Where radio politics don't get in the way, the talented ones are retained — often with an upgrade to a coveted primetime slot. Given how sombre things have been lately, news of Thomas and Skhumba teaming up for Kaya Fm's new breakfast show, simply titled Thomas and Skhumba in the Morning, emitted some much-needed excitement into the South African atmosphere.
The pair had this to say about their new show — which judging by this interview — is bound to bring some essential weekday comic relief to listeners…
Are you excited about this coming together of two brilliant minds and how do you foresee Thomas and Skhumba in the Morning unfolding?
Thomas: I'm excited because we have been given a blank canvas. We were told: 'We asked you to come in for a reason, you know what you're good at — so please 'DO YOU'!' It's a matter of two guys hanging out and accompanying you to work or chilling with you if you're still working from home. This is not the kind of show where you will feel the need to overthink everything while listening to it. Think of us as your older brothers or cousins who just want to have fun with you!
Skhumba: There is so much expectation from the show, which is not a problem but I personally don't like making promises because that would mean living up to people's expectations — and that's one thing I don't subscribe to in my life! We are writing our own new page in radio!
It obviously takes a lot for co-hosts to have genuine on-air chemistry. Did you guys have a relationship prior to this gig?
Thomas: My relationship with Skhumba started off air. We'd always see each other on the streets, and then we met when I worked at Kaya Fm the first time around. Our bond started there and I immediately understood why we got along. We see things differently and have that Virgo creativity going on. And now that we are back together, I love that I was asked to work with Skhumba. He is a true broadcaster — he knows when to entertain and can be serious when he needs to be — and that's the essence of broadcasting.
Skhumba: You know when you're listening to a show and connect with the presenter on a brotherly level — that's how I feel when I listen to Thomas. I feel like I have known Thomas for over two decades. Honestly, I feel like he's another version of me! Wait, he's an older version of me [chuckles]!
Thomas Msengana and Skhumba Supplied
With both of you being as hilarious as you are, how do you plan to tackle that serious morning content often expected of breakfast shows — also bearing in mind that Kaya Fm's listenership is quite mature?
Skhumba: Who says Kaya Fm's listenership is mature? [chuckles] Kaya Fm has been around for a long time, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it has retained the same listeners from when it launched in 1997. Right now, the Kaya Fm listener is the same person who was listening to Metro Fm 20 years ago.
Thomas: We are talking to a grown-up YFm listener. When we cover so-called 'serious topics', we'll treat them as conversations about what affects us daily. The topic itself doesn't have to be serious — we're just having a serious moment.
Thomas, you mentioned something about Virgo creativity earlier. Do you guys share a star sign?
Skhumba: We are not just Virgos, we were born a day apart! I get the feeling that people are expecting the worst from us [chuckles]! I was born on August 31, and Thomas August 30.
Talk me through the show's structure — what features can listeners look forward to?
Skhumba: There will be no structure or any features. We are just going to rock up for work at 04h30 in the morning and hope something awesome happens!
What feeling would you like your listeners to walk away with after each show?
Thomas: You know, great radio moments for presenters are when the listeners say things like: 'I couldn't get out of the car for my meeting!' or 'I had to stop work to concentrate on what you guys were saying!'. That's what we want for ourselves. We want you to be upset with us on some days, or laugh and cry on others. The point is — we want you to feel something!
Skhumba: You've been talking to us for 18 minutes, how do you feel?
*Kemong [interviewer]: I'm slightly concerned and wondering: 'How are these two going to cover current affairs without turning the subject into one big joke?' Also, my cheeks are aching from laughing! [chuckles]
Are you guys ready for the lifestyle changes that come with morning radio — Thomas your last radio gig was 12 to 3pm, and Skhumba you only did Friday morning radio?
Skhumba: There's a new invention called the alarm clock. You set that thing for 03h30 and just wake up [chuckles]!
Thomas: I did breakfast at Metro Fm years ago years ago, and didn't mind waking up at the crack of dawn because I love my job! I can tell you now that my only problem will be sleeping because I'll be eager about the next morning's show.
Skhumba: We wanted to do this radio gig that starts at 06h00, and we've committed to arriving at 04h30. Let's get off topic for a bit! Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the biggest sports stars in the world. Ronaldo arrives at training before everyone and is usually the last to leave. When we marvel at his on-field wizardry and talent, most of us don't know that he goes the extra mile and does what others aren't willing to. This is why we are pleased to show up at 04h30 to prepare, so we can deliver a great show.
From a personal growth perspective, what does the show mean to each of you?
Thomas: When we were first informed that we would be doing this show together, I told Skhumba that this opportunity was a huge honour for me and would like to dedicate it to late radio legend Bob Mabena. He did radio so well and taught me a lot. I know that he and Skhumba also had a great relationship. I just want to dedicate the show and new journey to his influence!
Skhumba: So many people have done morning radio and it's a huge honour for me to join this great legacy of South Africa's morning show presenters. It's also a huge reminder to never drop the ball!
Thomas and Skhumba in the Morning kicks off on Monday, May 3 from 06h00 to 09h00 on weekdays and can be streamed on kayafm.co.za