Jazz enthusiasts from South Africa and across the globe always tune to “The Urban Jazz Experience” on Metro FM every Sunday evening starting at 21h00 CAT. This is a show she compiles, produces and hosts since 2008. Her show has a number of segments to whet the listener’s appetite including interviews with individuals who are making things happen in the jazz arena, features where she engages with her listeners through social media and telephonically. Most importantly, it is the music she compiles and presents that makes her listeners stay glued to the radio because the only way to know what songs are in the lineup is to keep the dial locked to Metro FM.
Nothemba Madumo is a seasoned broadcaster, having worked in various broadcasting platforms mainly radio and television as a producer and host. Her experience includes project management, master of ceremonies, and an adjudicator. She is also the owner and Managing Director of 4EverJazz Media, a company that focuses on creating content and events about jazz, partners with initiatives and projects that promote jazz music, culture, legacy and lifestyle. Nothemba currently compiles playlists for Apple Music focusing on South African and African jazz music.
Despite the hectic schedule that she has, home is her favourite place. “I am a homebody. Home is my source of comfort and rejuvenation, where I ground my spirit and replenish my soul”, she told Jazz It Out. Nothemba surrounds her home with what she loves and passionate about which is family, music, arts and nature. “If the ocean was nearby, it would bliss”, she added. Even though the ocean is not within her reach, she does everything she can to make sure that home is the place that truly reflects who she really is in terms of character and personality
Nothemba Madumo. Picture by Siphiwe Mhlambi
She was born in Johannesburg, grew up in Swaziland till after university and has been residing in South Africa after completing her studies. Growing up in Swaziland, she was surrounded by love from her family with music and education playing a big role as her parents were academics. “The piano at home was instrumental in my love for the instrument and included lessons from Abdullah Ibrahim who amongst many exiles were regular visitors to our home”, she recalls. Her love for media and communications saw her working at Swaziland Broadcasting Cooperation as a student at varsity.
“I was a university student when I heard Swazi TV was looking for presenters and news anchors. I auditioned and got the job as continuity presenter at first and news anchor later”, recalling those early days as a broadcaster. During school holidays, she also previewed all international programmes to check language, technical quality, duration and commercial brakes. This meant she got to watch all the shows before viewers could see them which is something that brought her excitement and instilled love for broadcasting. After graduating with a Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Swaziland, Lesotho & Botswana, she moved to Mafikeng with her parents.
For a year Nothemba taught English and Geography at Bophirima High School in Itsoseng before joining Bop TV where she started as newsreader. She also got to present, produce and direct music as well as magazines programmes. Her radio career began at Radio Bop where started off reading news and co-hosted a jazz show, which she eventually took over. “I then included a daily night show from 9pm to midnight, the Saturday breakfast show. As time went on, she hosted the midmorning show from 9am to midday. The jazz show and news reading were constant throughout that period”, she said.
Picture by Siphiwe Mhlambi
When Kaya FM was awarded its commercial license, she presented the mid-morning slot of 9am to midday. “It was very exciting and empowering, as it presented an opportunity to present content that mattered to and uplifted the Black audience, giving us all a sense of pride, freedom and inspiration, she told Jazz It Out. After leaving the provincial radio station, she joined SAFM reaching all nine provinces of the country. Being on national radio presenting and sharing the content she loved with the listeners undoubtedly a highlight for her, especially since jazz has always been given a limited platform to grow.
She also enjoys her role of captaining “The Urban Jazz Experience” at Metro FM, a ship she has been steering for almost 13 years. In this show, Nothemba interviews different people who make a meaningful contribution to jazz as an artform. The music selection is quite impressive and includes a fair share of South African jazz. “I am happy to say the show grows every year especially as I have made a concerted effort to make it appealing to younger audiences who are important in ensuring the genre grows beyond the generations”, with a sense of fulfilment. Even some of the musicians she interviews are young.
The broadcasting industry is often perceived to be male dominated. Nothemba has a strong opinion on this. “I try not to consider it as a male dominated industry but rather one that fears the entry of women for potential power of influence and excellence”, she asserted. This on-air personality believes women are there waiting in the wings just for an opportunity to be their best, and hopes she’s an example that no field in the industry is gender based. She certainly has earned her stripes as a veteran broadcaster, made a meaningful contribution to jazz (which also is perceived to be male dominated) changing the mindset of radio audiences.
One of her favourite albums by Johnny Dyani Quartet
For more than a decade, she has been a judge for the South African Music Awards jazz category. “We adjudicate individually and the results are then combined accordingly”, she said. Nothemba confesses it’s a tough category because of its broad range and jazz styles. “With adjudicators having personal preferences in this regards, one can only hope quality, skill, creativity and excellence is what matters”, she added. She has also been an adjudicator at several talent search competitions including the Emirates Search for Super Jazz Band in 2019.
Her years of experience as a jazz presenter led to the formation of 4EverJazz Media company. “Being on radio for many years, I realized that jazz exposure was limited to radio on Sundays and the few jazz venues and festivals. The need for the genre to be a complete lifestyle experience was what led me to form the company with the aim of fulfilling this need”, she explained. It started as NOTMAD media and changed to 4EverJazz to create and develop indelible experiences and memories in the jazz art form and preserve its cultural legacy for future generations, as well as repositioning jazz music from a niche to a relevant mainstream genre and ensure the young embrace its culture and lifestyle.
Equally important are her thoughts on what needs to be done to make jazz more popular in this country. She firmly believes there must be a refrain from marketing jazz as a Sunday past time, referring to its audience as niche, cerebral and classist, believing it’s for the elderly and male. “Instead accept it for what it is. An expression of who we are as a people believing in freedom, unity, creativity and improvisation as a way of life”, without mincing her words. She also believes that as long as the cost of data is still exorbitant, many citizens will feel marginalized and streaming music – which is meant to benefit both musicians and music lovers is only accessed by fewer audiences.
One of her favourite albums by Sarah Vaughan
As a jazz presenter, Nothemba is reluctant to publicly mention her favourite jazz musicians but confesses she always lean toward pianists because of her love for that instrument. But she did not hesitate to give her all – time favourite jazz recordings in no particular order. These are The Dave Brubeck Quartet (Time Out), Ahmad Jamal (At the Pershing), John Coltrane (A Love Supreme), Keith Jarrett & Charlie Haden (Last Dance) (My Song) (Nude Ants), Miles Davis (Kind Of Blue) (Sketches of Spain), Bill Evans (Sunday at the Village Vanguard), Sarah Vaughan (Live in Japan) (Brazilian Love Affair), João Gilberto & Stan Getz (Getz/Gilbert), Chick Corea (Return to Forever) (Light as a Feather), Cassandra Wilson (Blue Light til Dawn), Herbie Hancock (The New Standard), Abdullah Ibrahim (Market Place), Johnny Dyani (Song for Biko), Bheki Mseleku (Timelessness), Zim Ngqawana (Zimology) and Winston Mankunku Ngozi (Yakhal’inkomo).
She was Project Manager for 2010 FIFA World Cup for SABC coordinating and monitoring all local programming, marketing, funding and sponsorship of the 2010 FIFA World Cup and all related events in the 2010 Project Office. Nothemba has also produced and presented television shows from sport, music, magazine shows, news and current affairs on SABC and e.tv. However, it is jazz that she has presented on different radio stations the longest as a broadcaster. Her hobbies are travelling to places that have the sun, sea and sand, hanging with friends and family, listening to all types of music, reading about the strange phenomenon called human behaviour and watching movies.
Listeners who prefer to listen to “The Urban Jazz Experience” through audio streaming can visit www.metrofm.co.za to access the show. Her Facebook Account is Nothemba Madumo. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @nothembaujx. Visit 4EverJazz Media at https://4everjazz.wordpress.com/ Like 4EverJazz on Facebook and follow her company @4EverJazzSA on Twitter and @4everjazzsa on Instagram. She always informs her listeners about individuals to be interviewed on her slot and posts the music line up through social media. Podcasts of interviews she conducts are also available on the Internet.