News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Monday July 22nd 2019

Radiohead bassist boosts local youth radio project

Radiohead bassist Colin Greenwood was in Cape Town this week to get first hand experience of the Childrens Radio Foundation's work, for which he has agreed to be an ambassador. Photo: Peter Luhanga/WCN

Radiohead bassist Colin Greenwood was in Cape Town this week to get first hand experience of the Childrens Radio Foundation's work, for which he has agreed to be an ambassador. Photo: Peter Luhanga/WCN


When Colin Greenwood, the bassist of renowned UK alternative rock band Radiohead, was asked over a year ago to be an ambassador for the Cape Town based non-profit Childrens Radio Foundation (CRF), he was flattered.

But rather than hang out with star-struck fans and take a rock ‘n roll rollick through the Mother City, the unassuming musician who lay down the bass for such hits singles as 1993’s ‘Creep’ has been hanging out with a aspiring young radio journalists from the townships.

Having accepted the request from the CRF, which trains youth to create and run radio programs in 25 languages which are then broadcast from community stations across six African countries, the 43-year-old husband and father of three came to get first hand experience of the work of CRF’s Young Reporters Network (YRN).

This, his first trip to Africa, was “fantastic”, said Greenwood.

“It’s fantastic. I’m going to visit some (community) radio stations in and around Cape Town…will get real flavour of South Africa from young people’s perspective…from their eyes,” said Greenwood, “it’s very exciting.”

“I like the way the Children Radio Foundation encourages curiosity and finding out how other people live their lives…sharing stories about how people live in their communities.

“My Job is music and so music is what people have in common. Within that love of music people love different kind of music and celebrate different tastes in music. The chance to come here and experience different culture and write it on the blog it’s great. It’s been fantastic working with the children.”

He said what he liked about the CFR was that it reminded him of their band when they started as children in 1985.

“We had to organise ourselves and learn everything for the first time. It reminds me of the excitement of controlling your own future, taking charge of your own destiny.”

He said the young people working with CRF decided what kind of stories to report on and they were driven by their interests.

“It’s not about what grown-ups want the children to say in their programmes. They cover anything from music to bullying at school to their favourite football team and sport.”

CRF Executive Director South Africa, Michal Rahfaldt, said they were privileged and honoured to work with Greenwood as he was not just an ambassador for his organisation but was part of it.

Rahfaldt said Greenwood participated in CRF’s training sessions with radio station representatives and visited their projects.

“He (Greenwood) has been so committed to learning the day-to-day of what we do, and understanding the realities of young people in South Africa. He loves radio, and sees its power in changing lives. Having him on board not only helps us get supporters across the world but shows our youth reporters how amazing their work is, and how amazing they are as individuals. It’s about inspiring them,” said Rahfaldt.

He said youth-produced shows were heard on 12 community radio stations across South Africa, and some of the best youth produced stories were broadcasted on the CRF’s weekly youth radio show on SAFM, called the Radio Workshop.

Yolanda Benya, 19, had joined the CRF YRN in 2011.

In her second year studying drama at the University of Cape Town (UCT), Benya said as a Khayelitsha resident CRF has made her avoid the township associations with crime.

“I love the programme because I get to interact with people,” said Benya.

Greenwood said he also spent some time Khayelitsha where he visited the HIV/Aids clinic, the library and Lookout Hill “where you can see the whole township down below”.

“The contrast between the wealthy and the poor…these two worlds seem to live next to each other.”

Apart from Khayelitsha, he said he had also visited Manenberg.

From Cape Town he would proceed to Northern Cape, the North West and Limpopo visiting Young Reporter Network groups.

Asked what he though of South African music, he said it was like music from anywhere in the world: “a mix of different influences like American Hip-hop, Reggae and Jazz”.

He said he had listed to a live jazz performance by Closet Snare at a Cape Town’s Mahogany room run by musicians Kesivan Naidoo and Lee Thomson and “it was great”.

“I want to listen to South African house music because it’s so popular here. It’s big here, especially in Johannesburg,” he said.

About his band Radiohead, he said they had just finished a tour last December and were planning a new album for September this year.

Asked if the band had any plans to tour South Africa, he said they would love to come and perform in the country “as soon as possible”. —Peter Luhanga

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