An open letter to 5FM's DJ Warras

By  | Jun 22, 2020, 01:47 PM  | DJ Warras  | Top of The

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Dear 5FM station manager

I wanted to start this letter with a series of explicit greetings, worthy of the utter nonsense I was tortured with on your station this week. However having a redacted version of my thoughts would not really serve my purpose. So I trust this version will relate not only my rage but also my utter disappointment in your station right now.

I want to make it clear that I’m an avid 5FM listener, pleasantly engaging in yours and your predecessor’s choice of DJ’s over the years since Mark Giillam, Ian F, Elana Afrika and Gareth Cliff even. I was excited when you announced your new intake last year, eager to see the next generation of DJ’s who would define us as young people participating in this country daily. I thought it was a brave call and a clear commitment to developing young talent and a drawing an audience that needs a voice nationally and deserves to have broadcasting designed for them.

Read the station manager's response

I’m sure you will have reviewed the hogwash that DJ Warras spewed out on air, I’m not sure I’m even giving credence to the disgrace and denigration of women that he threw at us. It made me unsure if DJ Warras and his co-host Tumi Voster are aware of the implications of working for the national broadcaster beyond the relative benefits of having the entire country listening to your message.

I’ve had the pleasure of being on radio in my student years so I can appreciate how it can feel like it’s just you in the studio – you find yourself speaking to a friend. Some would argue that it’s the secret to the best in the game, their ability to treat the listener as a friend; creating a sense of familiarity and comfort.

However being on 5FM is not like that great time I had on some graveyard slot on RMR so many years ago – it’s real life. It affects people; it affects the conversation we’re having as a country. It informs opinions, shapes thinking and drives a particular message about who we are as a people. Being on any nationally broadcast station is to carry partly the responsibility of our daily effort of the kind of country we are and want to be.

So it’s with this understanding that it cannot be possible in 2015 for the kind of blatant and almost belligerent denigration of women on a nationally broadcast show. It cannot be acceptable that more than 50’s years since the beginning of the feminist movement that we can have a male radio broadcaster who can call women “slutbags”, “hoes”. A DJ who can refer to women as “old stock” and request that we offer international music stars “new stock” of these supposed “hoes” when they visit South Africa.

Not after the history we have, not when the story of Sara Bartmaan is a real fact of history that happened in OUR country. It cannot be that we have broadcasters who lack the sensitivity of the realities of women’s rights in South Africa. That lack of awareness of the background that we have, the scars we carry as a women in our country. Comments like those are what open the door to the idea that women can be asking for sexual assault because of how they behave what they wear, how they choose to spend their time.

It cannot be that 20 years in we can have a female co-host listen to this clearly chauvinist babble and not reprimand their fellow host. More than that, to agree and encourage and laugh at his comments. Unless of course there is something to be discussed about women feeling empowered to speak up against their male counterparts at 5FM. That is the only explanation I have for Tumi’s handling of the situation yesterday.

My greatest concern is for the young women and men who may not have the priviledge of outrage as I do. I know that the feminist principles that I am able to articulate are a luxury of the education I have been afforded, the exposure to the kinds of thinking and understanding I have been lucky to absorb.

You will forgive me if this feels like a soap-boxing but I need for you to understand the gravity of this situation, because it is the sum-total of events like these that amount to a society that can mistreat women the way we do. I cannot stand for it.

As for that half-baked attempt at an apology that Warras gave last night; he would have been better off not saying anything because to say “I’m sorry but it needed to be said” is an insult.

I do not listen to the radio to have the notion of females as possessions to be given to men shoved down my throat unapologetically. I will not participate in the propagation that women are “hoes” and “slutbags” and cannot imagine that you would either.

The least that I believe you can do is suspend both DJ’s and actually have them learn about women’s right and what it means to be entrusted with speaking to a nation. The best you can do is not tolerate baseless comments that violate the very base human rights we have as women and fire both of them.

Over to you in the studio.

This open letter was originally written by Ntombizamasala Hlophe (read her original letter here) and the article was published on Why don't you catch up with the latest News you need to know NOW while you're there?

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