Broadcast journalist and digital enthusiast Shoeshoe Qhu began her career in radio in 2004 as a volunteer field reporter for Cape Town-based community radio station Radio Zibonele. Almost two decades later, after working at Kaya FM and the SABC, among other places, she has settled into her role as programming manager at Radio 702, a commercial FM station based in Johannesburg.
Qhu loves telling stories through the radio. Growing up in rural Makuatlane in the Eastern Cape, radio was the only form of entertainment and connection to the greater world that her community had.
“My worldview was shaped by what I heard and what I could imagine. I didn’t immediately think I was going to be a broadcast journalist, but I was curious about people on the radio, and the power and influence they had with the stories they told,” she says.
One of Qhu’s proudest achievements is her work mentoring young journalists while working as station manager at Voice of Wits, a 24-hour campus radio station. Some of her mentees now work in the SABC newsroom and commercial broadcasters like EWN.
“I hope to inspire girls to believe that it is possible to become anything that they want to be — even with the fears and the obstacles. I stand on this side with a stretched arm, ready to mentor and train more young women,”
Qhu offers training to journalists and radio broadcasters through the Wits Radio Academy, National Electronic Media Institute of South Africa (Nemisa) and Primedia.
“I am an advocate for media freedom and play an active role in engaging industries and the media on the subject through interviews and as a board member of the Freedom of Expression Institute,” says Qhu, who also serves on the Black Management Forum Sandton manco. “I am actively looking to play a role in transformation in our country. This anchors me as a black woman living in South Africa.”
One of Qhu’s goals is to run an up-skilling programme for 20 young people — 10 from a township, 10 from a rural area — with multimedia and basic coding skills, as well as digital tools to assist them with starting up a content hub to publish their unique stories online.
“I would run the programme once every year and scale it with time and funding availability,” she says.
Qhu lives by the Sesotho idiom, “Khomo ha lina motloha pele” — cows do not have a first-mover advantage. It doesn’t matter who starts first.
“This has helped me deal with the pressures of life and the need to see instant results. So in all I do, I put in my best and trust the process,” she says.
Looking to the future, Qhu wishes to elevate oral storytelling traditions to the levels of literary works that are recognised by the likes of the Booker Prize and the Pulitzer Prize. “There is a need to bridge the gap using emerging technologies and new media platforms — often with very little barriers to entry — to empower ordinary South Africans to tell and document their stories,” she says.