There have been times on these pages where I have chastised some radio personalities for allowing themselves to be bribed by musicians so that they can give their music some airplay.
Perhaps one thing that I now realize I have to do is to try to live the life of a radio presenter, who is sometimes referred to as an announcer, and find out what goes into their heads for them to utilize music.
At first, I had a chance to listen to Chikondi Phinda, whom I learnt is only 25 years old, but you would mistaken her for an elderly lady, more so with her lady-deep voice, and stuff that she talks about.
I decided to face her and find out what goes on in her head when she is ensuring that when you and I are switching on to radio one of the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) we are not met with dead air.
She says there are several dynamics that she put into consideration when she is playing music. Chikondi says music that she will play when she is on a 12 midnight to 6 AM shift, cannot be the same she will play when she is on the 6PM to 12 midnight shift.
‘You cannot just wake up at 6AM and start playing Rhumba music which is heavy and danceable’.
Music has to be selected based on the theme under discussions, she says, and this means music at MBC for example has to demand a slightly bigger budget for her radio’s music library to have all that kind of music.
But she says it is funny how things are done in Malawi. Apparently radio stations do not have a deliberate budget on acquiring music. Basically it is up to the presenter to source her or his music through the internet or going in the music shops to buy with their own money.
On a larger scale, especially with local music, the artists themselves take music to radio stations for promotional purposes.
Nonetheless, by the end of the day, the listener out there, gives no damn where and how the radio station gets its music. All they want is to get 100 percent musical entertainment.
With numerous musicians and music laying about in the radio stations, you would expect the radio presenter to suffer some form of headache to ensure that the music really does really the trick to magnetize the audience to your dial.
I wanted to know from Chikondi Phinda what music she would give her listeners and why she would do such choices.
Within 30 minutes of her choice of music she chose 7 artists she will play and I was shocked, at her age, she has no R’n’B stuff.
She says if she is on air today, she would play Kondwani Simenti because he is a new kid on the gospel block who would move the stiffest of bodies with his well thought music. She is also thinks Simenti has defied his newness by breaking even, merely because his music is worship chants and full of religious anecdotes.
The other artist she says she will play at every opportune time is Peter Mawanga because he is a serious lyricist who fuses it well with unmistaken African beat.
Chikondi will play Lulu because he has a voice; but she will play Lucius Banda because he is the musician of all seasons. His music talks about you and the rest of the people in a bus. If you will talk about orphanage, infidelity in marriages or affairs, politics, business, and what have you, you will have a Lucious Banda track to go with it.
And yes, political music from Lucius she will play. Don’t be surprised Chikondi is daughter to a long time member of parliament from Chikhwawa, the late Thomas Phinda.
Chikondi will also play Oliver Mtukudzi because as a Sena from Chikhwawa she has a connection with the Mbira music of Zimbabwe.
She says their music in Lower Shire has an identity similar to that of Tuku music. She says play any Lower Shire artist like Agorosso, Stanley Nthenga, Joseph Tembo and even some tracks of Katelele Ching’oma; surely it will click with Tuku.
Lastly Chikondi will play Lucky Dube and Bob Marley because being a girl who comes from a family of 11 and she is perched on 10, one cannot rule out the influence of elder siblings especially when they are brothers.
She says her brothers have had a major influence on her type of music.
‘Imagine, you will find even my mother, a retired agriculturist, singing Culture’s ‘Ganja Time’ while cleaning the home or washing dishes due to this influence.’
She says much as she now likes Dube’s unity themes in most of his music, she likes Bob Marley now on her own terms because of some love messages his music carry.
Now musicians, know what our music presenters love in our music, do we need to do more?