“Good morning, I’m Mark Esterhuysen,” began the newsreader’s outburst. “F*** racism. F*** the pigs who killed Andries Tatane. F*** the AWB. F*** racism. We are all wild animals meant to live free. F*** capitalism. F*** fascism. F*** this f***ing wage slavery graveyard s**t. F*** domestication. F*** Malema. F*** the state. F*** the petrol economic growth on a finite planet. This is the only f***ing planet we have. Peace, love, respect, anarchy. Follow me on Twitter. You can see me on Facebook as well.”

These were the words of former Talk Radio 702 newsreader Mark Esterhuysen after his late-night tirade on air. Esterhuysen, who worked for TuksFM while studying journalism at UP, used his graveyard-shift slot to swear repeatedly. His rant lasted 40 seconds before the station managed to drown him out with a song.

Esterhuysen now has thousands of followers on Twitter – it seems his tantrum wasn’t for nothing. Ironically, this has transformed Esterhuysen from that voice you heard reading the news on the way home from the Square to a famous (or rather, infamous) local personality.

Another South African radio personality who seems to subscribe to a similar theory is 5FM’s Gareth Cliff. However, he manages to keep his job while doing so, which is more than we can say for Esterhuysen. Recently, Cliff came under fire (once again) for an alleged sexist slur against a female interviewee. Cliff told Aids activist Angela Larkan that she should be proud of herself for having started working at age 22 because most women at that age “do nothing but lie on their backs with their legs open.”

The comment didn’t seem to bother Larkan too much. The 27-year-old said in an interview, “I didn’t think anything of it at the time. I was surprised but I kind of ignored it and carried on. I wasn’t upset.” However, DA Durban councillor Tex Collins was. He reported Cliff to the Broadcasting Complaints Commission (BCCSA) and called on the DJ to apologise to all women.

True to form, Cliff took to his website to refute the claim: “This whole story is preposterous. It is spurious and seems a deliberate attempt by a minor politician and newspapers to make a mountain out of a molehill.” On his Twitter page (who needs a publicist these days anyway?), Cliff commented, “Found out that the guy who complained about the ridiculous #sexist comment is a minor DA politician. Obviously.”

Unfortunately, some radio personalities run into trouble off air, and even Twitter can’t save them. Darren Scott called a colleague a k****r at a Jacaranda 94.2 teambuilding event. Scott claims that he had lent the colleague large sums of money, which he had failed to repay. Despite this, Scott subsequently apologised, and resigned from Jacaranda.

Closer to home, TuksFM have had a few run-ins with the BCCSA themselves.  Last year, the “Gay or Okay” segment was brought before the BCCSA on the grounds that “impressionable” students will come to see homosexuality as something negative and that the title amounted to hate speech. However, the tribunal eventually found that “there was nothing that could be described as the advocacy of hatred or incitement to cause harm to homosexuals in the programme.”

More recently, in July this year, the station came under fire for a segment that offered to give a R200 voucher to the listener who had gotten away with bribing the police the smallest amount of money. TuksFM was reprimanded by the BCCSA for “glamourising unlawful conduct”.

So it seems that on South African radio, not all publicity is good publicity, and some who overstep the mark probably won’t fare the same as the now infamous Mark Esterhuysen. The self-professed “enemy of the state” and “defender of anarchy” released a statement on his blog (where else?) where he claimed that he did not regret his foul-mouthed rant, beginning his statement by saying: “I am not sorry for what I have done. All is fair in love and war.”

In radio too?

Image: Gerhard Louw


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