Penny Ntuli living her dream on the waves

Gagasi FM radio DJ Penny Ntuli wants to encourage youth to dream beyond the limits of the township. Picture: Supplied

Gagasi FM radio DJ Penny Ntuli wants to encourage youth to dream beyond the limits of the township. Picture: Supplied

Published Feb 25, 2023


Durban - When Gagasi FM radio DJ Penny Ntuli from uMlazi and Adams Mission switches on her mic, she leaves behind her shyness and entertains millions.

“My experience with radio has been really beautiful. On commercial radio, the iron is hot, but I keep learning every day. Shout-out to Gagasi FM for giving me this chance. Ever since I started broadcasting, my biggest dream was to work for Gagasi FM, and I am here. Radio has been amazing. What I’m doing now is exactly what I thought it would be,” she said.

Her radio career has flourished and driven her Tik Tok platform to more than 7 million likes, but she wished she had a role model like her growing up.

“I am becoming what I wish I had growing up, that person who’s already there telling me while I am still hustling that it can still be achieved. Somebody who’ll tell me or rather share with me their problems and show me that they are not perfect, they are human, like me. Growing up, celebrities were celebrities, and then there were normal people. I'm trying to become a bridge between the two,” she said.

Her show on Gagasi FM gets a lot of engagement on social media, she says, and she makes the most out of her two-day slots and pushes the boundaries.

“My show is between 1 to 4am, and it’s called Ziyakhala. I’m doing exactly that, ngyazikhalisa (I bring it on). I only have two days on air ‒ Saturday and Sunday ‒ so I have to make the most out of it by talking about things that are deemed not ‘cute’,” she said. She believes being on a commercial radio station is her biggest success so far.

“Oh, man! I can’t stress this enough. Being a Gagasi FM radio personality is the biggest achievement in my radio career. Moving from community radio to commercial was and still is a big deal. Hoping to bag a radio presenter award in the coming years,” said Ntuli.

She said her recent school tour was inspired by her love for her township, uMlazi.

“I did a school tour of three uMlazi High Schools: Velabahleke High School, Ogwini Comprehensive Technical High School and Gagasi High School. Besides my love for uMlazi, I went to talk to those kids to reassure them that wherever you’re from, whatever your background looks like, you can come out of it and be anything you wish to be. Life does not end in the township.

“On the school tour, South African artist uMfana kaGogo surprised me and showed up with his team, and ended up travelling all the schools with me. That was a cherry on top because he has also just finished matric and was living out his wildest dreams. He was the perfect example of what I was preaching, and I am grateful to the school principals for allowing me to come through,” she said.

She said the people she interacted with daily and her love of her job kept her strong and focussed.

“The people I meet in person, talk about or quote what I said that really changed how they did things or how they saw life. That really stays with me. The love for what I do comes from the heart, and I live for it,” she said.

As for future plans, she said: “Let me just say, stay tuned. I don’t announce plans. I announce results.”

She said her family made life easier for her during her busiest times and also jokingly credited her future in-laws.

”I am grateful to the lady who gave birth to me, Thandeka, for reminding me that however far I go in life, I am still a child at home. Also, my brother Kwazi, for always availing himself when I need to travel, and my manager, Thabiso Msomi, my social media followers (aboMzala bam) and my future in-laws (abakaMfana).“

When Ntuli is not on air, her week “is full of ‘planning ahead’” for her work as an event facilitator and her roles as a brand and PR specialist.

The Independent on Saturday