The final countdown: The lessons learnt, the memories made and the relationships that will never be broken

This was it, we were coming to the end of one of the most daunting projects I have ever achieved. Tshego and myself believed that now we had gone through the motions we were going to do this episode as efficiently and entertaining as possible. We even picked up the kids on the Saturday afternoon for an editorial setting. Once again both the boys Werner and Olwethu could not make it...

To be honest i see this prospect being rather concerning in the future. As later we found out it was because they were playing rugby out of town. We need to make the future mentor, who will take over us, aware of these logistical problems. They may need to choose members who are not heavily involved in sporting activities as these even affect our afternoon workshops.

Nevertheless we had our meeting as usual. During the meeting we were talking about possible features for our new upcoming show on the world cup. Tshego and myself were extremely impressed with the content that the teens came up with. looking back we would have never had these four individuals telling us to create features such as "a vox pops of how everyone feels about the world cup with the theme song of the world cup "waving flag" behind it". They were truelly thinking about stories 'for the ear', instead of their conventional print stories. Seven weeks ago this would not have been possible. i can safely say that for once I feel these teens could be left to do their own show, well, the ideas at least!

Nontsikilelo, our youngest member also had great ideas. She came up with the idea of teaching the listeners how to greet people in other languages as there will be so many foreigners during the world cup. I have realised we really need to take advantage of the varied features the teenagers want to broadcast, as i have been taught radio i stick to the usuall conventions of a 'straight interview' or a 'normal discussion', these kids are now challenging this and making me put together packages i never really would- such as the vox pops package- I feel this shows great opportunities to play radio packages that are different to and even against the norm. It also teaches me to 'think out of the box' if you will.

Tuesday arrived, along with some content the kids collected over the past two days, i must admit I have been very impressed with the handing in on deadlines in the last three weeks, I feel this is because they are bruinging us content in which they want to do. As we ask the children who wants to do what story. before they were almost forced to write small assignments (such as their likes and dislikes), these assignments the teens often "conveniantly" forgot about.

Harriet came in and spoke to the teenagers about the role of a marketer which I feel went perfectly. Unfortuynately as it was late afternoon i feel the members lost concerntration at the end.. We really need to think about getting food for them as this always keeps them awake!

Apparently Tshego went to interview Mandla Gagayi with Nontsikilelo, who apparently took her job very proffesionally. She asked a few questions pre recording, wrote down her own, and started recording her newly made questions. Once again these teenagers were putting what we have taught them into practice. To say i was delighted when i heard this is an understatement! After listening to the short sharp interview I realised another thing - Tshego and I hardly edit these interviews, they are about four minutes in length yet capture the personality very well. Obviously we would like to script some questions during the discusiions however the teenagers seem to realise what the essence and the meat of every interview is. they aske the questions and get out of there, instead of how we were taught to have at least twenty minutes of interviews. Through my experience with upstart I feel  that in a weekly run show the former is the best technique.

Thursday came with new surprises. Firstly olwethu approached me and apologised for his performance the week before, he said he would really try and stay on his game this week and had a 'rough' week last week. Tshego apparently spoke to him in the car and he realised he needs to put on a face everytime he is on the radio, as he is quite literally the voice of the show. i was very impressed with his humility to apologise to me, i thought he would think he was "too cool" to apologise. To be honest i now realised why we chose him as an anchor again, but to be wary I still made a mental note that this could be his last chance.

We had new guests in studio today, which we only found out were coming about three hours before we started recording. This only added to our problems as we have realised Thursdays are hell days in the Upstart radio schedule. The three vistors were a freelance team, two from Serbia, one local, who were making a documentary on the 2010 world cup and what the South African youth are doing about it... I can see how we were straight up their street! Therefore now we had to do our recording with lights, cameras and even sound fluffs in our anchors face. A recipe for disaster maybe? Well this is what I thought, and how wrong I was.

Firstly, because the production management side at RMR have asked for two anchors Tshego and myself went for the bold move to make Gcobisa the other co-anchor. Firstly it must be noted that Werner showed great maturity in understanding why we chose Gcobisa - she had experience in the prior weeks plus she was a female voice. i will be forever thankful that Werner understood this, and for a boy to show this level of maturity i feel illustrates a lot of character for the future. So Gcobisa was anchor, and I could instantly tell they had a chemistry in the production studio, even if there was a camera held by a foreigner in their faces. Our guests this week were Anesu Chingono - the sports editor for the oppidan Press, and Siya Tyali, an intern from the journalism department. Once again the latter guest was urgently called up as we had ANOTHER guest fall through, I think in the future, to illustrate the importance of these guests Tshego and myself should get hold of them ourselves as they constantly let down the kids...Shows me the apathy from the older generation perhaps? Well this is what we are trying to change!

There were however two huge hiccups on the day. olwethu was almost over excited now and zoomed through the questions to our guests, hence leaving us with a considerably low amount of time for the discussions. this was partly our fault as we should have stuck to the times of what we wneeded to achive, this was quite literally an elemental error which i am very embarrased about. Secondly our hero of the week- an eighteen year old female soccer player who had represented the eastern cape in a tournament a few weeks back- had completely lost her voice. Therefore we needed to find a hero to record too. As the Foreigners also needed to get footage opf our producers and techies this basically filled up our whole Thursday. Yet the teens really warmed up to the camera, and I'm happy our anchors worked brilliantly in the overwhelming conditions.Our guests had agreed to re do the discussions the next day and I became the hero of the week for my involvement in the world cup, as I will be commentating in four of the games.Both of these interviews went off splendidly and i thoroughly enjoyed being interviwed by the very people who we taught!

After what was the most successful editing to date, Tsegho and myself planned to have a final goodbye with our teens. We met the next day at Tshego's house. She had made us food for all the times she fogot to bring which I thought was really great. the teens were extremely happy! Unfortunately, seeing it was a Saturday Olwethu and Werner could not comeas they were playing rugby.

Throughout the entire project i have been waiting for 'that' rewarding moment. That glimpse where I have felt everything was worth it. To be honest I'm kicking myself not incorporating the 'searching' feeling I had for this moment in the beginning of my blogs. I had a few close ones, hearing our first sting, seeing the faces on the kids at Dulce's when our radio first played. Yes these were all amazing moments that I will always keep, but I realised it wasn't a "moment" I was looking for. Instead it was right there before me, it hit me while I sat looking at the four girls - and my accomplice Tshego, sitting in a circle talking about the entire project. I noticed that now that the project was over I thought I would act and speak differently to them. But this wasn't the case, we were still laughing and joking as if in the editorial room. We still spoke about the silly things that we spoke of in the car. This showed me that we had found that balance between fun and work. That work can be fun. After this Tshego and I found ourselves running around, like school kids, playing hide and seek. We even played volleyball, and was taught the legendary Diski dance. Tshego and I were reliving our childhood again, and we didnt care. I realise that through radio we had met these kids, and made awesome colleagues, and friendships. I have learnt that in the producing field, respect is not instantly given to you, its earned. We earned the trust of these school kids, and in turn they trusted us, they even performed to the best of their abilities for us. This, was my moment, the realisation of all of these things while I was tightly pressed up against a bush waiting for Nonstikilelo to find me in hide and seek.

We had come together as complete and utter strangers, and together have made a truelly great working environment, freindships that could never be possibly broken, and life lessons that I will forever keep and stick to. Tshego has been a truelly amazing partner, i have not given her credit enough. Her consteintious mind, along with her relaxed attitude with the teenagers has been terrific to watch. She too taught me many things, a stern glance from her has assured me I must not blow up in front of the kids at times. I really could not have been with a better partner.

We promised eachother to stay in touch, and even swapped birthday dates so we could SMS eachother on these days. I realised the harsh reality that after this year i may never see these kids again, I sincerely hope not. I have come out of this assignment with the most amazing life skills, about leadership, organization and time management. It was about producing a radio show but it also felt deeper. The moment it all hit me of what we had achieved - what we had done, was only intensified by the SMS our producer Gcobisa sent me about an hour after we finished.

"Time might lead me to noweher and faith might break into pieces but i will always be thankful that once in my lifes journey i met you. Thank you so very much for everything its been such a great experience working with you guys. Thank you and stay sweet and Kiff, Gcobisa".

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