Thabo Osekeng "The Brand"

TALKING RADIO SPORTS
Only a daring person like him can go by a name “The Brand.” Thabo Osekeng came out of nowhere to become one of the most celebrated radio sports presenters in the country. His career started in 2008 at  Duma FM, where he managed to turn himself into a house-hold name. A couple of awards later Osekeng is at the top of the sports section at the youthful Yarona FM.

Please introduce yourself to our readers.
I was born in Mabutsane but originally I come from Khakhea. My connection with Mabutsane came from the fact that by the time I was born, Khakhea had no facilities.

Q. Would you kindly give a brief history of your childhood days?
I started my primary education at Khakhea Primary School and did my junior certificate at Molongwa Junior Secondary School still in Khakhea. I arrived at junior school when bullying was still the in thing; new comers in the school were given a real hard time by their seniors. By sheer luck I pulled off a stunt that would save me from the bullies, I jumped the highest in a high jump competition; a record that I suspect is still to be broken at my beloved school. One of the reasons the bullies spared me could be because my mother was a teacher and during those days teachers’ off-springs were usually accorded the respect given to their parents.

Q. How did you end up in radio?
To be honest with you radio was not my first choice. I came to a point where I became very fascinated with computers. After Cambridge I enrolled for an Information and Technology course at NIIT. My fascination with computers grew even further and I went about searching for an IT related job.

Q. I hear you but that did not explain how you ended up on radio…?
I was getting there. It was luck I guess. I was in Khakhea when one of my friends called me about opportunities at a new radio station. I submitted my CV and was given an opportunity to work on radio and naturally I wanted to work in the IT department but that never happened as there were more experienced people than me. We were tried in different fields and I remember one time I read news, but with the likes of Miso Mmereki and others I felt I did not stand a chance and tried my luck in marketing. I had no marketing experience; it was a hopeless situation. That was when I suggested that I should do sports as no one else was doing it. It was settled and there started my journey into radio sports presenting.

Q. You came on radio with no experience at all. How did you manage to deal with the pressures of being on air and researching on a daily basis?
It was not easy, but I persevered. It was great to have more experienced personalities like One Rabantheng who did exceptionally well in mentoring us and helping us to have a firm grip on our roles.
It must have been a wonderful life changing experience with that huge salary coming in?
To be honest with you my friend it was not financially rewarding at first. It was challenging for me especially when I had to use my own car to go on assignments. It was however comforting to have had an understanding Station Manager like Moreri Gabakgore who at times took money from his own pocket to help us through the day.

Q. Besides the fact that you chose to do sports because of the limited opportunities at the radio station, are there any other reasons you chose the section?
Sports was a natural choice for me, I have always been a sporty person and have tried out different codes during my teenage years. One major reason I decided to present sports was because I was not happy with the way sports was presented in the country. Most sports presenters were into football, giving other codes a total blackout. When I started my sports programme and featured codes like netball, bowling and judo I was given a hard time by people including my own colleagues. Some suggested that I should focus on football so they could help me with the listenership. My answer was very brief; I told them that I was building a brand.

Q. What has been your biggest achievement with Duma Fm?
During my first year with Duma Fm I won the Annual Botswana National Sports Council Award for 2008/2009 in the Best Electronic Radio Presenter Award category; and the radio station won the Best Electronic Media House of the Year award. It was a season in which I was nominated for all the sports awards in the country. It was a great feeling and a motivator for me to work even harder.

Q. You left Duma FM at a time when everybody thought you were going to further establish yourself as a sports presenter of repute and your station as a brand of choice. Why did you leave?
It was a decision I had to make. I was looking at the bigger picture and I saw the Yarona FM move as an opportunity to further grow the brand. I met new people and new challenges and I’m reaching out to a new audience, it is all in the grand plan and Yarona FM has been a perfect home with energetic and ambitious young people.

Q. As the station’s Sports Editor what are the challenges you deal with on a daily basis?
Most people think it means I now have to spend my time in the office. Totally far from it, I have to do a lot of field work; I have to know everything that is happening with our sports in this country and beyond. In short I have to work even harder than I did before; luckily for me I have a group of enthusiastic people who are as passionate about sports as I am and it makes my job a bit easier.

ON THE MOVE: Thabo Osekeng

Q. When will you stop building the brand?
It never stops; the building goes on until one breathes his last. People like David Letterman and Oprah Winfrey have never stopped building their brands; in fact they seem to focus more on their brands when they get older. Likewise this “Brand” is a process.

FULL NAMES: Thabo “The Brand” Osekeng
DATE OF BIRTH: 17 May 1981
PLACE OF BIRTH: Mabutsane
FAVORITE FOOD: Traditional cuisine
MARITAL STATUS: Single not looking
FAVORITE HOLIDAY DESTINATION: Turtle Bay Island (near Gabon)
CAR DRIVING: Volvo S40
BOOK READING: U R The Brand by Catherine Kaputa

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