departure from his self-titled show, The Eusebius McKaiser Show, on Talk Radio Station 702 was or rather it’s still heart-breaking for most of his loyal listeners and [former] colleagues! usebius McKaiser’s
Talk Radio Station 702 is part of Primedia Broadcasting’s portfolio of radio stations and a sibling to popular radio stations such as Kaya FM, KFM 94.5, and Cape Talk.
My close friend, who is also a loyal listener of the show mentioned that there was some form of indications from Eusebius McKaiser regarding his exit from the station a couple of months before the official press statement was published on the 702 Twitter and Facebook social media pages.
The first official announcement was published on Thursday, 11 June 2020 [at 15H35] via the 702 Facebook page and captioned “Clement Manyathela to take up the 9am slot from Eusebius McKaiser, Mandy Wiener to host The Midday Report.”
The press statement reported that Eusebius McKaiser was to depart on 26 June 2020, whereas he confirmed earlier in the week, live on-air, that his last show would be on Friday, 19 June 2020.
Redi Tlhabi (née Direko) is one of the former colleagues and friends who took the time to bid a heartfelt farewell to Eusebius McKaiser, telephonically. In her on-air farewell engagement with him, Redi voiced out her disappointment and annoyance in the way Primedia handled the issue around Eusebius’ departure from Talk Radio Station 702.
She highlighted the fact that the statement that Primedia issued did not help in watering-down the tasteless speculations around Eusebius McKaiser’s departure from the station. Some of the unconfirmed speculations included the possibility that Eusebius was leaving the station due to:
- Amicable differences around working conditions.
- Irreconcilable differences between Eusebius and the station management.
- Dropping listenership rates during Eusebius’ tenure as the self-titled [702 mid-to-late-morning] talk show host.
The above speculations were crushed by Eusebius McKaiser, live on-air, and on all his social media pages including. He also provided his counter statements, advising against entertaining any unfounded conclusions about his departure.
In her moment of bidding Eusebius farewell, Redi Tlhabi said the following:
|“…Oh, my darling friend, you know, I wanted to send you a WhatsApp [message] about two days ago, to say: I left 702 on the 17th of June [2017?], if I am not mistaken, three years ago. And [today] it is the 19th of June . Here we are, with you just spreading your wings, just exploring other platforms where you can share your eloquence, your beautiful mind, your brilliance. And if you just allow me Eusebius, I just want to remind everyone that your second stint at 702 [talk radio] was an act of generosity, because I was going off on maternity leave.
A broadcaster of your calibre, getting called into a stand-in for someone. People do not do that, all over the world. Broadcasters of your calibre would demand more. You do not come in, to just stand-in for someone. But as an act of generosity, and love for the craft, you agreed to just come for a couple of months, when there was no certainty about the future, no permanence, and you did it. And I hope 702 has thanked you for doing that.
You stood in for me, and if John Robbie had not retired at the end of that year, there would not have been that gap that opened. I would have just come back in January 2017 and just carried on with life.
When I have had a stand-in of your calibre, I am not insulting anyone: it is a fact. Often the stand-in is just somebody who fills in the gap. You did not just fill in the gap, you took the show, and you rebranded it in a way that was just so brilliant. The topics that you had: who else has topics about racist iconography and how it reflects who we are today? Who else ruckles the cage when it comes to identity politics and makes people feel uncomfortable? John Robbie used to comfort me and say ‘when people are indifferent to you, then you should retire. You should [either] make people very angry or very happy, very sad or very happy.’
And you were that kind of presenter.
And you know Eusebius, there is something so, I do not know how to pronounce this word, but I absolutely love it! How do you say… ‘prescient’, about the kind of show you did? Look at what is happening all over the world with #BlackLivesMatter. Look at what is erupting all over the world, as we find out who we are. As we locate ourselves, black and white, within these power structures that have shaped our world for centuries. You did that kind of topic. You did that kind of conversation, long before this thing kind of exploded in a manner that it has [exploded]. So, you did something for 702 that was not being done.
Here is another thing that you did as a talk show host, that sets you apart from everyone else who is on air right now [9am – 12pm]:
You do not go for the lowest hanging fruit, in terms of guests. You do not look at who is trending on twitter and then you call that person in to commentate. You do not look at people who are being most quoted, and [you take as] those are the experts. You search, you find the philosophers, the writers, the thinkers, the artists, the analysts. You find them and you do not pick the lowest hanging fruits. And that is what I will miss the most about you, Eusebius. You are just a fabulous talk show host. You have a sense of humour. Your vulnerability on air. Your authenticity. You do not present. You come in every single day, and you give us who you are. And I think that is [absolutely] wonderful.
Last thing I want to say [do not shut me up]: this was my show, ok? I am taking over, this was my damn show (*Eusebius could not help but giggle*)… one more thing that is very important, at this time, and Eubie, I am asking for your [fairness?].
You and I are friends. You and I talk. We have a life outside of the station.
You talked to me about your hunger for flexibility. You talked to me about some of the things that you wanted to do and we were [both] in the same boat because we left 702 at a time that we were so happy, doing what we were doing. We were never unhappy. It was just time to spread our wings, as we get older, as we have more opportunities for transnational work. We spoke about this. So your resignation did not come as a shock, to me, as your friend. But, I felt, and many people do, feel that 702 press statement about your departure, was the most ungenerous, ungracious, I have seen.
The Primedia I worked for, Eusebius, and I am chocking up when it did not renew people’s contracts, they never said that publicly. Instead, they would find some reason: family commitments, whatever, to make somebody’s departure dignified. And in your case, it happens not to be true that your contract was not renewed for repositioning [of the station]. It would be silly of a station like 702 to reposition and leave someone like you behind. We know it is a lie. It came across on the press [release] statement. And I am saying this because people are saying it privately. I am not that kind of person. I am sick and tired of the things we say in private and we do not say them publicly. So I am going to say this:
The Primedia I worked for; would never have issued a statement that does not honour its presenter. The Primedia I worked for; honoured people even when they did not renew their contracts. But even more so now because you [the one who resigned]:
Amanpour is not bigger than CNN.
CNN is not bigger than [Christiane] Amanpour.
It is symbiosis.
You and Primedia were a partnership that worked: honoured that, even at the last moment.
You do not have to tell the public such bitchy and feely untruths.
I was very disappointed. And I felt that it was not the Primedia that I worked for, and also, Eusebius, at a time like this, it’s a time of Covid[-19].
People are anxious.
People are nervous, be careful [I am talking to every employer out there] of how you terminate people’s employment.
I once presented a show where I learnt [that] an employee [had] committed suicide after being retrenched.
Be careful if you call someone in and say we are not renewing your contract.
Because the next day you may wake-up with that person died because they cannot handle it.
Be careful when you call people in, to cut their salaries, because the next day, those people may not handle it.
In this [particular] case it happens not to be true.
I will forever wonder what the motive was: of crafting a statement that did not even reflect your history.
That did not reflect your own quote.
It was a statement announcing who is coming in (i.e. Clement Manyathela), rather than announcing your departure.
John Robbie got the honour.
Jamie Chris Williams got the honour.
I [Redi Tlhabi] got the honour.
That company, I would not be Redi Tlhabi, I would not be who I am without Primedia.
The international work that I am getting, the recognition is because of what Primedia provided for me. And on my last day, when those bosses Omar [Essack], Thabisile, ah, I think there was Roger Jardine, Alistair Teeling-Smith, Mzo. They all walked in, to honour me, at my last minute and gave me a plaque. That is the 702 that I know.
Terry Volkwyn, wherever she is, they honoured me. Pheladi Gwanga, wherever she is, they honoured me. Primedia honoured people and left on a dignified footing.
Last thing I am going to say, Eusebius: there are many people who were fired at Primedia because they were not good enough. They walk around being twitter celebrities, today, tweeting about how they left because they stood up to whiteness. They challenge 702: lies!
They were not good enough and they were [just] nice to work with. But today, they are twitter celebrities, lying about the company. I have stood up to defend Primedia.
I have stood up to defend Primedia: when people say that ‘we sit in some room and plot our news angles.’ I have stood up, publicly, to challenge and defend Primedia.
So I feel comfortable today, critiquing that press statement that was meant to tarnish you.
What if somebody decides ‘I am not going to touch Eusebius McKaiser because if he is not good enough for the repositioning of radio, then I won’t.’
The statement that you release has an impact on someone’s prospects and future.
I am just happy that it was you because you are so supremely talented, that immediately your phone started ringing as people want to hire you in [and outside of] South Africa.
But those statements, to all employers: be careful what you say. Because you could close the door for somebody, permanently.
It is not necessary.
You are a star, Eusebius.
You are a star.
You have shifted the landscape of debate of politics.
People hate you and that is fine.
People love you and that is wonderful.
You irritate me sometimes. But that is good.
That is what a talk show host does.
Thank you for your generosity.
For producing your own show because that is what stations do sometimes.
They do not invest in producers, because the presenter is good enough to pull it off on his/her own.
Tribute to your producers, but you did the bulk of work, in terms of ideas, editorial checks, legal acumen and contacts that you have.
You are a gift to talk radio and may you go on to shine Eusebius!
Whilst Redi was delivering the above remarkable and heavy [on the heart] farewell message, Eusebius McKaiser was carefully listening, and no interjections came from his side, except for [imagined] nods and little words of approval: a ‘’yes’’ and giggles, here and there. After Redi was done, Eusebius ended with a ‘’thank you and I love you’’ response. I also felt that Eusebius was five to shedding a river of tears. It felt as if someone had just chopped a bunch of onions!
I immediately froze and refrained from the attempts to call in and bit farewell to Eusebius McKaiser. It felt that he had been, somehow, a part of my life, and yet I had to let go because he had played his part and I must fend for myself. If you have had your leg accidentally broken before and were then forced to heal using Plaster of Paris (POP), you would know exactly how it feels when it finally gets removed and you have to learn to walk or use your arm again!
Hamba kakuhle Eusebius McKaiser! Uze untinge ntaka’ndini!
By Thando @VhoTurnDoor.