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The cool future of radio

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ICE 100: The cool future of radio
RADIO LEGEND: Bonni Dintwe

His voice and face have been beamed across all media platforms in the country since the turn of the millennium.

Raised in the mining town of Selebi-Phikwe, Bonnie Dintwa now owns the first locally brewed online radio station.

The 38-year-old radio head, known for his tough love and no nonsense attitude, began his media career with BTV’s popular show, Flava Dome.

A year later, he moved to RB 2 before joining Yarona FM as the station’s breakfast show host.

The radio personality migrated from the youthful radio station to join DUMA FM before returning to Yarona FM as Programmes Manager.

However, he left the station in January, sparking speculation that this was because of a personal relationship with a female presenter, Mimi Dintwa Knee Mokgwathi, popularly known in radio circles as Zizi Panther.

The couple got married two months ago.

Opening up to the media for the first time since launching his online radio station, ICE 100, four months ago, the history-maker had a heart to heart with The Voice’s SHARON MATHALA at his posh offices in the Central Business District (CBD).

Q. Can you paint a picture of who Bonnie Dintwa is?

A. Bonnie Dintwa is an all round entrepreneur. I am now the managing director of on an online radio station called ICE 100 and I own two other businesses.

I have been in the media industry for over 17 years, as a presenter, radio and TV personality.

I have worked with both print and radio media houses.

I am a husband and a father.

I am a friend and an all around great guy.

Q. Take us through your radio career, which is where your brand really blossomed.

A. My journey started with RB 2.

I then I moved to Yarona FM at its peak in 2007 for their breakfast show.

I moved to DUMA FM as I got a little bit older.

I decided to quit radio entirely and resigned the very week The Voice wrote a story on the highest paid presenters in the country and I was on the list!

My biggest fear in life is being one-dimensional.

I do not want to labelled as ‘the radio guy’.

I eventually returned back to the game as Head of Programming at Yarona Fm and it was great.

Q. Have you ever said something you were not supposed to live on air?

A. Well there are many incidents, but at the top of my mind I remember one time I was interviewing the former President, Festus Mogae.

I had asked him to rate the current President on the different sectors, and somewhere along the interview I said ‘oh sh*t’ live on air! I mean I got home and regretted every moment.

Q. There is a debate that local radio content was at its peak in terms of delivery during your times – what’s your take?

A. I will be honest with you, the product is sh*t compared to when we were on radio.

This is not because there is no talent, the biggest issue is there are no programme managers; all these private radio station do not have programme managers!

I was so successful because I had a great programmes manager who had a brilliant mind in terms of programming.

A radio station needs to have a great roaster and a pool of talent, which is the duty of the Programmes Manager.

Q. Do you feel you were able to achieve all you set out to do as Yarona FM Programmes Manager?

A. One thing I wanted to do with Yarona FM, which called me in to help them find their feet again, was for the radio station to go digital.

I managed to set that up and it was great.

I also wanted to increase the number of female presenters in the line-up, which I did.

I was also a firm believer in scouting and developing new talent.

So yeah, I am confident that for sure my mark was felt, even after I left.

Q. You left under a cloud of controversy – media was awash with reports of why you resigned, can you confirm why you decided to leave?

A. The truth is my marriage with Yarona FM fell apart. We wanted two different things.

I wanted to move Yarona FM forward and make it great, by doing new things and embracing new talent.

Yarona FM then hired a young female Station Manager, and I felt it was great.

Then the craziest thing happens: Brando and Robin show up!

My argument was that from a programmes point of view the move was not progressive, it made it seem as if at Yarona FM we were defeated, that either there is no new talent or we are failing to nurture new talent.

They wanted to bring back Yarona FM, I wanted to take Yarona FM forward.

A. What other management decisions were you unhappy with at Yarona FM?

Q. Look, how can you hire two guys who are in their 40s and fire your top female presenter – it doesn’t not make sense! Then you effectively fire Dollar!

I listen to Yarona FM now and I am like ‘there is no plan’.

When I wake up in the morning I do not listen to the Feel Good Foundation because they do not deliver great interviews and there is little current news; the other one is not even funny – he is just trying to be funny because the co-host is a creative genius.

It is just a mess but I do believe Yarona FM will bounce back from this.

Q. How did the ICE 100 idea come about?

A. I have always been rooting for turning traditional media digital.

I had people around me who were always having discussions on investing in an online radio station.

So I decided to set up ICE 100. It is still a baby – it has been running for only four months, going into our fifth month.

This has been the hardest year financially for me but I love it. We are on 24 hours a day.

People have asked if the concept will work in Botswana, if enough people have smart phones, if they have data etc.

There was also the worry of how we would deal with expensive data charges – these are questions that frequently get thrown at me.

I have been told of all the reasons why it won’t work, but we believe in the product and we will make it.

Q. What are some of the challenges you have faced as an online radio station or foresee coming up in the next five months?

A. Generally in Botswana, when something is new people are hesitant to try it out immediately – they like to wait and see if that particular project will work out.

In Botswana we suffer from the ‘wait and watch’ approach, and it is killing new business concepts and ideas.

I do not understand why we are creatures of habit, but I do believe two years from now we will have more than four online radio stations.

Q. How would you sell the concept of ICE 100 radio to someone who has never heard of it?

A. The easiest way to describe what we are is that we are fully digital.

We are the first online radio station in Botswana and are taking it very seriously as a business.

We operate 24/7 and are all about music. We play local content, entertainment and sports features regularly every day.

We are currently in talks with mobile service providers in the country to include ICE 100 on their packages – something that will be ready in the very near future.

Q. Congratulations on your recent marriage – how and where did you meet Zizi Panther?

A. It had been full three years since we really let anything happen. We had met at a couple of events and nothing really registered.

We once met at some basketball event she was organising but still nothing registered.

I came back to Yarona FM as the boss and still nothing registered – she was just a short, annoying presenter!

But as the months went by we got to know each and the rest is history.

But no, I did not treat her with any special gloves.

The stories that I left because of our relationship were not true.

We are married now and it’s our second month in and we cannot be happier.

Q. TGIF, how will you be spending your Friday?

A. I will probably be working or spending time with the boys.