He was an influential radio personality for close to five years before he returned to the world of entrepreneurship.
Relentless and charismatic, Phenyo Moroka arguably boasts one of the country’s more beefed-up media resumes.
The 35-year-old was a popular morning show host on Yarona FM and also enjoyed a successful stint on television presenting a business show on CNBC Africa.
In 2015, Moroka was selected as one of 13 locals to take part in the Mandela Washington Fellowship – an initiative that gives outstanding young Africans the opportunity to study and train in the United States of America (USA).
Voice reporter SHARON MATHALA caught up with the man whose four-year spell as Shell’s Brand Ambassador came to an end recently.
Q. For those who do not know Phenyo Moroka, how would you describe yourself to them?
A. I am a middle child, all boys, from Tsabong. I studied at Stellenbosch University, studying Bachelor of Arts and I majored in Organisational Psychology and Political Science.
After university I went to a private advertising school before I came back home to work.
I then started my own business, which later flopped because of my lavish spending! I have an ex-wife and am an all round great guy.
Q. Your family’s name was front page news in the media a few years ago with your father implicated in the tragic death of a young man. ‘Accident or Murder?’ and ‘Moroka killed my son’ were some of the headlines, how did you deal with this as a family?
A. I don’t know how to deal with it without necessarily going into specifics because the matter is still before the court.
But we came together as a family and told ourselves that we will let justice take its course and that whatever the decision is, it will be a decision we will have to respect and accept.
It was a very difficult time for our family but it was without a doubt an even more difficult time for the other family.
Q. You made your name in radio, how did your journey in the industry begin?
A. I first got on radio in 2002 whilst at varsity.
I got on to the campus radio station, which was one of the community radio stations in the Western Cape; that is where I fell in love with radio.
When I came back home and joined the corporate world it was not my first choice, I wanted to join Yarona FM.
I remember I talked to the station manager because I was passionate about talk radio but it was not the station’s format – so there was no space for me.
Q. But you were eventually hired and arguably became one of the station’s best presenters. Tell us about your time with Yarona FM.
A. I joined Yarona FM in August 2009 as a stand in on a show called Point Blank and in March of 2010 I joined officially, with a show called Live the Talk.
My time at Yarona FM was the best time I had as a young working professional.
I think I was doing radio different to how it was being done on Yarona FM.
I wanted to do a talk show and I managed to convince the bosses at the time.
Yarona FM was different also in the way they did radio – they were edgy, they were vibey, they knew how to play on the edge and pushed the boundaries.
Q. Do you believe radio was of a higher quality during your time compared to today?
A. I think the problem now is not the with the radio station but the people who desire to work on radio for the wrong reasons.
The vibe I am getting is people are more interested in being famous than actually delivering the product.
I think that’s where radio as a business is limping a bit.
I think people now want the lifestyle that comes with being on radio.
Q. Why did you leave?
A. I felt in terms of being on air and the radio personality I was and the brand I was, I had reached the ceiling.
I didn’t see any opportunity for growth in the direction that I wanted to go, so I ultimately had to make a decision – and that was to leave.
Q. What have you been up to since then?
A. Since leaving Yarona FM I joined an advertising agency group with the aim of starting a digital agency but it did not quite work out, I was there for like eight months.
I then got together with a couple of guys and founded a production company, which I also left in January this year.
Now I am into the family business and up until recently I have been the face of Shell.
Q. How did you handle the pressure that came with fame?
A. I have a dad who is extremely strict, so if I bring the family name into disrepute ‘kea go kgwatha ko lapeng’.
But to be fair, fame in Botswana does not put food on the table! Yes, I got all the VIP access to the best parties in the country but that did not bring money home.
I also wanted to be the best in talk radio and be the best in what I deliver.
My interest was news and current affairs so that took most of my time.
I never really got into the ‘fame train’ but of course I made my fair share of mistakes just as anybody, I am not saying I am an angel!
Q. What advice can you briefly share for those trying to crack it in radio?
A. People will use you because you have a platform.
It is so easy to get caught up by the vibe.
You need to deliver a product; it should not be about fame.
If you want to get fame out of the industry, I would say to you don’t do it.
Q. Tell us about your relationship with Shell.
A. I met the marketing manager at one of the events I was MCing and that is how the relationship started.
The marketing manager then was one of the judges at the gig.
I love everything about it; as with every relationship there has been ups and downs.
When I got the opportunity I really couldn’t believe it.
I have been their ambassador for the past four years but my contract came to end in March.
Q. What regrets do you have?
A. My first business would have survived if it was not for my irresponsible spending.
That was a massive learning curve.
Q. Your advice to youth about social media trolling.
A. What you should know is that whatever you post will never ever be deleted.
The worst thing about social media is people troll for ‘likes’ and trends.
I have seen that people try to humiliate others for ‘likes’; the world we live in today is that people hire you based on your social media, because people believe who you are on social media is who you really are when the tie comes out and those heels come out.
Whatever you post will have a bearing on whether opportunities and doors will open for you!
Q. Apart from being a commentator and a radio personality, what else do you get up to?
A. Professionally I have joined the family business – I’m focusing on the property side of the business.
I want to take off from where my father started, that is really what is taking a lot of my time right now.
I am also trying to establish myself as a professional speaker.
Q. What book are you reading now?
A. It’s an audio book titled ‘Are you a strategist?’
Q. Earlier you mentioned having an ex-wife, how did you become a divorcee at such an early age?
A. I think one of our biggest problems as the youth of today is that our level of tolerance is very low.
We put a lot of emphasis on ‘I’ and ‘me’.
If it’s not working for you, you want out – I realised only later that life does not work like that.
It is not going to be about you all the time.
I think maybe I was not tolerant enough.
But these are some of the lessons on life that I have had the opportunity to go through.
Q. Thank God it’s Friday – what have you got planned for the weekend?
A. I will be home, relaxing.
I spend a lot of time at home; I don’t go out much!