Kriya Gangiah, radio presenter and digital lead at Jacaranda FM, shares how she got to where she is – and how you can follow her lead.
Tell us a bit about what you do.
Currently, I present The Kriya Gangiah Show, from 7pm on Jacaranda FM. I’m also the digital lead at Jacaranda FM, which means I manage all elements of the radio station that have an online impact, from videos to social media and the website. I compile strategies for this and ensure that all digital elements get implemented effectively.
How did you get started in the industry?
I’ve always loved media and entertainment! When I started at the University of Pretoria, it was my goal to be a radio presenter and so I did everything I could to get experience at the varsity’s radio, TUKS FM. When I was 17, I presented my very first show on TUKS FM, and from then I knew I was in the right industry.
Radio is hugely competitive, so I also studied information science and multimedia to boost my CV. After that, I built up my corporate experience working as an IT security specialist for five years. Getting any kind of experience, anywhere, will always count in your favour! When I started my radio show at Jacaranda FM, I used their digital platforms to market my slots on air. It worked so well that they also offered me the role of digital lead at the station, which goes to show taking initiative and putting yourself out there pays off.
Are there things I can access to supplement my training?
A number of institutions, such as Google, offer free courses that can get you started. Also, the Internet is a wealth of information, from YouTube courses to free, part-time online studies that will help amp up your CV.
When it comes to radio, I’d suggest you try and find a local community or commercial station that offers internships or volunteer work. You often have to work for free or a basic minimum wage when you start with zero experience, but it’s worth it.
What’s an absolute must for making it in your industry?
Take every single piece of experience you can get! Don’t only focus on getting experience purely as a radio presenter: get experience in marketing, digital, programming, music – any area you can. Take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way.
What are the main skills needed for your industry?
‘You have to be flexible – able to think on your feet and adjust to every situation. Know exactly what you want to achieve and be prepared to work very hard for it.
What should everyone know before going into radio?
It’s not all glitz and glamour! The hours are often very long and the rates generally offered by the industry aren’t sky high. To achieve success, you need to be a very strong person and truly passionate about what you do.
What other areas can you work in when it comes to radio?
It’s a wide-open field! Think everything from broadcast technicians, sound engineers, music managers, writers and producers to programming staff, reporters, on-air traffic managers, human resources, sales personnel, marketing, event officials and, of course, presenters. If you know you want to specialise in something like sound engineering, do study this field – there are lots of specialist courses out there, and for these niche roles training is important.
If you’re still at school, what should you study or be getting experience in to make it in radio?
If becoming a presenter is your dream, try to go for public-speaking training or drama classes that’ll help you become more confident. Even in class, take every opportunity to practise speaking to an audience.
Also, make sure that you’re well informed on a large variety of topics. Read as many articles as you can – articles from credible sources – that focus on the field that you would like to become involved in (even if that’s popular affairs, so you know what’s trending RN and what’s important to be on top of when it comes to news). Have an informed opinion that you could share in, say, a job interview.