Che – On becoming an On-Air Radio DJ
Che Ulenga is no stranger to the world of media and entertainment, having been an on air radio DJ and producer for the last 11 years. Having just been nominated for the Namibian Annual Music Awards (NAMA) in the category, Radio DJ of The Year, Che’s magic behind the mic is evident.
99FM’s MYD Smart spoke to Che to find out about the business of entertainment and how she found her way into broadcasting.
“I had no experience and no idea how radio worked, but it all felt natural as if I had found the perfect seat in the house and it all just flowed.”
99FM’s MYD Smart asked :
How did you become an on air radio DJ?
“After giving birth to my son and over a year of breastfeeding and raising him, I felt it was time to get the gears going and work my way back into society. Through spending time at the Theater school and attending projects they hosted, I started networking. I was introduced to DJ X, who invited me to audition for a show on the station and the next thing I know, I was sitting in an on air radio studio with a mic in front of me. I had no experience and no idea how radio worked, but it all felt natural as if I had found the perfect seat in the house and it all just flowed.”
What have the last eleven years in radio been like for you?
“It has been exciting. It’s been a journey of growth and of creation. It’s been humbling and it’s been real.”
What are some of the challenges of working in radio?
“Radio is perceived as a male dominated industry and it was difficult as a woman to show my male colleagues, peers and the community that radio has no gender and that a woman had a place on air, even as the anchor. Years ago in the beginning of my career, stations were run by men only. Of course, being raised by a woman like my mom, Rosa Namises, I felt I had to question why it was the case. My male colleagues told me straight up that I was not capable of being the studio and content coordinator because “it’s difficult”. I had to ask our station manager to give me a chance and that chance meant, I became the studio and content manager for the rest of the 4 years I was with that station and I played a role in the transition of the station from KCR to Base FM. I have always had fierce passion for what I did, so after I got the chance to show my capabilities, the challenge was laid to rest.”
What are some of the business lessons you have learnt in your career in radio?
“I’ve learnt that you have to create your own brand, and keep honest and true to it. When people ask for Che, they want Che. Not me with a splash of Diva or me with a touch of Drama. They want authentic me.”
“I’ve learnt that you need to put yourself out there, market your brand. Let people experience who you are.”
“I’ve learnt that everything can be an opportunity.”
“I’ve also learnt that you need to stay humble. You need to not let your ego get in the way, because a listener is free to choose their entertainment.”
What are the rewards of working in radio?
“The listeners. Those who choose you over all other options. When somebody you don’t know, have never met, picks up the phone to dial into your show and says that what you are doing gives them life, that moment right there is it.
People seriously call you and tell you: “I had a bad day, but when I tuned into your show today, you took all the bad away.”
How are you feeling about your recent nomination as Radio DJ of The Year at the NAMA’s?
“I am honored to be recognized for what I do, and proud of myself because I feel that all that passion is paying off. I am also very thankful to listeners who have been supportive of me.”
Where to from here?
“I’d like to transfer some of what I’ve learnt in the last eleven years, to empower up and coming presenters and DJ’s. I’d like to do this through creating a guide.”
“Right now though, I am busy working on the 1st Namibian Radio Expo, if all goes to plan, we will be inviting you towards the end of the year to this.”
You can vote for Che as the Radio DJ of The Year by sending the code RDJ1 to the number 66262