Johannesburg - Speculation that 5FM DJ Gareth Cliff was forced to leave the radio station this week has been dismissed by his former employees.
Cliff announced on Monday he would be leaving the station after 10 years of service.
There has been speculation that Cliff was forced to leave after he recently played the spoof song Nkandla Style on his show.
It was created by Cliff and his team and is based on the song Gangnam Style, with a chorus that goes: “If you’re number one, you get to drive the gravy train, you get to fly the Gupta plane, you know the power of the shower.”
Cliff’s morning show team, which includes Leigh Ann Mol, Thabo Modisane and Damon Kalvari, are also leaving the station. The only member of Cliff’s team who will remain at 5FM is sports presenter Sias du Plessis.
On Friday, 5FM programme manager Tim Zunckel denied suggestions that Cliff had been fired.
When asked whether there was any truth in the speculation, all he said was “no”.
Cliff’s agent Rina Broomberg also denied the rumours.
“There is no truth that Gareth was forced out, although some bodies at the SABC may have breathed a huge sigh of relief to see him go,” said Broomberg.
“It was time for contract renewals and this was the year Gareth decided it was time to start something new.”
Zunckel confirmed that 5FM had a number of candidates lined up to replace Cliff but would not go into detail.
DJ Grant Nash has been standing in for Cliff.
Zunckel added that the station would miss Cliff.
“Gareth is a well-established and controversial brand that has been long associated with 5FM.”
“We do, however, respect his decision to pursue new opportunities.”
Cliff has landed himself in hot water on a number of occasions while at 5FM.
He has been reported to the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa on several occasions.
Meanwhile, Cliff has explained his decision to leave on his personal website.
On Monday, he wrote: “It’s time for a change.
“My team and my audience are like my dysfunctional radio family and we want to offer something new and exciting.
“After two suspensions and several close shaves, dozens of BCCSA complaints and almost as many management changes at the SABC, it’s time to get unhinged!”
Cliff also told Eyewitness News that his choice to leave 5FM wasn’t a “sudden decision”. He said he had already started thinking about what his next step would be two years ago.
“I thought either I could carry on doing what I am doing and just end up on some horrible adult contemporary station and get fired, or else I do something that can give other broadcasters a place to go,” Cliff was quoted as saying.
Cliff said 5FM offered him the chance to remain at the station but he felt it was time for a change.
“They have plans of their own, which will obviously be announced in time, but I thought it was time for a change for me.
“I thought, what better time than when you feel like you have got the energy, the brand equity and the pulling power to make it happen.”