On his upbringing…

I really appreciate the complexity of the time I grew up in. As young kids living in Zone One, Diepkloof, a day would see us participating in “Release Mandela” campaigns, dodging bullets and running from cops. Soon after we would hang at street corners, stare at girls, and then go home to do homework, watch TV and get ready for school the next day with the hope that no cops came looking for us that night. Some of my fondest memories are of Sundays afternoons, the smell of bay leaf and peppercorns as my mom cooked lamb in the kitchen, and us playing putt-putt on a small patch of lawn as beautiful jazz, soul and blues played in the background.

 As a youngster, my uncle ignited my love for radio. He was the one who exposed me to international radio stations and urged me to have an open mind. My father taught me about music and inspired me to collect music from an early age. When I was 13 he bought us headphones and microphones and I decided to start my own station, (Radio MLK). Using a 90 BASF Chrome tape I would do a link, play a song and insert ads that I would pick up from the tuner. That was my station and I did it for about a year before I had to get back into the real world and get a job.

On his upbringing… I really appreciate the complexity of the time I grew up in. As young kids living in Zone One, Diepkloof, a day would see us participating in

 When his life changed…

There was a point where I felt my life was starting to spiral out of control. I was studying Psychology via correspondence during a “gap” year so I spent a lot of time at home in the ’hood. After a while I could feel myself becoming someone I didn’t particularly like. All the things I knew were wrong didn’t faze me anymore and I no longer had the urge to right the wrongs. I was becoming jaded so I became obsessed with getting out of there. I couldn’t allow myself to become that person.

After I finished studying I got a job at Trinity Books, a supplier for outlets like Exclusive Books. While working there I managed to save some money to study at Technikon North Transvaal. Unfortunately I arrived there when registration was about to close and the Marketing course I wanted to enrol in was full. The only available options were Public Administration or Commercial Practice, of which one of my majors would be Typing! It wasn’t ideal but I decided to take Commercial Practice as I was determined not to go back to the ’hood.

Three weeks in I was pleasantly surprised to find out there was a radio station on campus. I couldn’t be part of the schedule because they were already full but needless to say I spent more time in the vicinity of the radio station and not so much in class, hence my typing speed isn’t that great! After some time, I offered to start producing the station manager Joey Nthlatleng’s show and one day when Joey had a test he asked me to fill in for him. It was my one chance to impress and I brought my A-game. As they say: the rest is history!

 His big break…

A close school friend and associate Peter Mokgothu told me YFM was launching. I knew I wanted to be part of the project. However, when I got to the audition there were more than 600 people looking to fill 15 positions available. The numbers were not looking good so I knew I had to stand out. While waiting for my turn in the queue I wrote a proposal for the station which I handed over to the now-late Arabi Mocheke and asked him to give it a read. Four hours later he emerged (I was still waiting!) and he requested that I come through to their management meeting the next day.

The meeting started at 11am but I was there by 7am. By the end of the meeting I had been assigned to assist Technical with the auditions based on the ideas I had presented. Over the next eight months I worked hard, but I worked as a volunteer. I was broke as hell but I was inspired. Eventually I got onto the payroll and over the years I moved from being the person who controls the trafficking of advertising to Station/General Manager. My time at Y was amazing in so many ways; we were innovative and trend-setting and today it’s still a strong brand. When I was headhunted for the post at Kaya FM I left with fond memories. But before heading off to Kaya FM, I gave three years of my life to Instant Grass (IG), a trends and insights agency based in Cape Town with a semi-global footprint. I looked after the Jo’burg office and in those three years we pulled off some amazing work for clients ranging from Kimberly Clarke and SABC1, to SAB Miller, Puma and many others.


 On heading up Kaya FM…

The initial challenge was trying to figure out how to fit into a machine that is already running. For most, the safest strategy would be to motivate the Board to allow you to appoint your own people in key positions like Finance, Programming and Marketing. But I realised it was time for me to once again break convention. So I decided to sell myself to the team. Once I had earned their trust I implemented a project that required people to ask themselves if they are: “the right person, in the right place doing the right thing at the right time, consistently?” This allowed us to refresh the engine and start working towards turning the business around together.

Another challenge I faced was bringing down the age demographic of the station as over the years Kaya FM had become a station for the over-45s market. So we re-engineered the music and the marketing. This move was met with some resistance but ultimately everyone got on board and our offering became personal to the band of listeners we had. It told their stories. 

On Kaya FM as a lifestyle brand…

Once we had the music angle sorted, we started asking ourselves how we as a brand can become relevant to the listeners we are targeting. It was then that we realised that most Afropolitans are still trying to navigate their way around the lifestyles they can now afford. The reality is that most of us moved from a piggy bank to private banking in five years, and while this has allowed us to have the means, we are still thirsty for the knowledge to make the best of these means we now have. People are looking for information: what to buy, where to buy it and where to travel. We have been working to cater to that need. Family is also a big deal at Kaya FM, so we initiated events like Family Day to remind people to spend time with their families and programmes like “Home with Mapaseka” are vital as they discuss issues that trouble people on a daily basis.

Biggest success story so far…

For me the all-encompassing thing would be being brave enough to cross that street and taking a tour of the other side. The decision to not be afraid and stop believing that “I don’t belong here and I should not be here” was the biggest thing for me. For it was in that one moment that I had my mind-shift and knew what I wanted and what I didn’t want for my life. I attribute all my future success to that one moment, because after that, in everything I did, I had that natural drive to break convention and push the envelope.

On what drives him…

There is a lot that drives me but one major thing close to my heart is changing circumstances for young children. It’s important for us to participate meaningfully in efforts to inspire kids in their formative years and teach them to think differently. A lot of work we do from a CSI perspective is geared towards that. In my personal life I have found that a principle of love and respect is the key and serves as a very good foundation for both my work and my family.

One piece of advice…

Find that one thing that you are about, that one thing you are good at and are passionate about and know that it’s possible! Whatever you are good at, just do it!

Why we love Afropolitans…

Afropolitans are concerned about their society, their communities, environment and their country and economy. We care about social ills and we are committed to educating our children and ourselves. We like to spoil ourselves but we do not do it at the expense of our children’s education. We are committed to finding happiness, peace, comfort and stability. So many people go around like they’ve got the winning formula but many of us don’t. We are all still trying to get by day to day, figuring it out as we go along. We are concerned about getting these situations right.

 The future for Kaya FM…

We won’t be resting on our laurels. Our purpose – apart from being a successful venture for our shareholders – is to maintain and increase our relevance as being the ultimate Afropolitan guide, the one place where people can come to and learn how to navigate this life they are living without judgement. We have an educational role to play: from buying property, to travelling, understanding stock markets and entrepreneurship. Kaya FM is the place they come to learn comfortably. It’s home for the Afropolitan. 

Fast facts about Greg

He underwent a psychometric test at Wits and failed it!

His claim to fame is that he played the first song ever on YFM!

He has always had a secret love affair with Kaya FM – he’s an old soul at heart.