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Radio rocks! Zulu soap out to prove it

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TO NDR Eh Heh1

IT was the British band The Buggles who sang in the late 1970s: Video Killed The Radio Star, a theory I had long believed until the success of the now non-existent (to the disappointment of many) local radio soap Lollipop Lane.

The recently cancelled soap was penned by the award-winning writer Clinton Marius – who is also largely credited for reviving the local radio drama scene – and ran on Lotus FM with great success for four years before its unexpected demise.

It always amazed me that a radio soap could make such huge strides in popularity in an age where high-end technology, social networks and the internet are the order of the day when it comes to entertainment.

And, of course, as The Buggles sang: Pictures came and broke your heart, put the blame on VTR (video tape recorder). (Or in our case 3D TV, DVDs, Blu-ray, etc) as the preferred medium today is an audio-visual experience.

But we’ve come a long way since the days of Squad Cars – the hit radio show that held the key 7.30pm Friday slot from the late ’60s to the mid-’80s – and the like, with radio dramas seemingly having come full circle in popularity. An example is the launch of a new radio drama, Eh Heh, on Sunday on Gagasi 99.5FM.

Marius is back in a collaboration with Gasi presenter Zookey. The new show comes in the wake of fresh additions and tweaks to the station’s line-up.

Commenting on Eh Heh, Zookey said: “I was given the go-ahead to create an arts spot on Gagasi. As part of this I thought of doing a soap. While writing the soap I met a friend from the Department of Arts and Culture who mentioned Clinton. I met him and told him about my ideas, and he had his, and it just took off from there.”

Eh Heh is set in a hair and beauty salon and features a group of lovable characters played by KZN’s top radio actors, including Mpume Mthombeni, Loretta Green, Shika Budhoo, Dhaveshan Govender and Pauline Dalais.

The soapie will also feature guest appearances by SA celebrities and industry leaders, while covering a range of subjects, including art, fashion, music and lifestyle issues.

Marius said writing for a mostly Zulu-speaking audience and transforming his work into “Zunglish” had been exciting.

“It has been completely different for me, as Lollipop Lane was for a predominately Indian audience, so I’ve been immersing myself in Zulu culture. This collaboration is fun. I think this is the way to go for writers in SA, to go cross-culture and work together.

“All the episodes will be recorded a week before they air so the content will be topical – current affairs and issues people should be aware of, for example the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children Campaign, or a local fundraiser that should be supported.”

Eh Heh is directed by Caroline Smart, who has been involved with radio drama for more than 30 years.

• Eh Heh airs Sundays at 10pm and Thursdays at 7pm on Gagasi 99.5FM.


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