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Major changes on 702 as John Robbie leaves, Xolani Gwala/Redi Tlhabi shift

TXolani Gwala 16fimes are achanging on 702 as long standing breakfast host John Robbie bids the Gauteng based talk radio station farewell at the end of the year.

Having been with the radio station for some 30 years, and the breakfast show for half that time, the award-winning host leaves the radio station just after he turns 61 this month. Current afternoon drive host Xolani Gwala (pictured) will take over the 6-9am slot from the beginning of next year - 09 January to be exact.

Also making a major move on the radio station that has been making major changes in the last two years is Redi Tlhabi, who will now take over the afternoon drive show. She is currently on maternity leave and her show being taken care of by Eusibius MaKaiser. Following these changes, Eusebius will host the midday (9 – 12midday) slot full time.

One other change that is coming is that of veteran journalist Karima Brown who will be hosting Talk @ Nine on Sundays. ‘Karima was the Friday Stand-In for Redi Tlhabi earlier this year, and took to the radio medium with positive response from the audiences’. She will be hosting a current affairs show that discusses and analyses the stories and issues that come out of the Sunday newspapers, as we kick off the new week.

Speaking on his show about the mixed responses about his departure just this morning, the radio icon said that originally he wanted to leave in June, but the all considered that Redi was going on maternity leave, and that they could lose Eusebius, they all agreed to do this around “Christmas”. He also said that he is in not really retiring as there are things that he always wanted to do. “If I don’t do them now, I never will,” he said rubbishing claims that he might have been pushed.  

Earlier commenting on the retirement move, John is quoted on the 702 website saying: “Just as I ended my rugby career, I knew when it was time to go and informed my bosses. Thirty years at 702 has been a blast. I am proud of my contribution and proud of the station. It is one of the most transformed businesses in SA and has a massive role to play going forward. In thirty years, many on the morning show, I was never late once. Good luck to my dear colleagues and friends who are listeners and advertisers and to my family who have shared the journey. It has been a privilege to serve.”

“When John first discussed his plans to retire, earlier this year, we were saddened by his loss to the line-up but are in an exceedingly fortunate position to have the depth of talent on our station that we do,” said 702 station manager, Thabisile Mbete, on the 702 post. “This new line-up strongly reflects South Africa. It is balanced and will take the station into the future.”

“Xolani has extensive experience on a breakfast show from before he re-joined 702, some four years ago. He’s an excellent broadcaster who we are proud to have on our station and as our new breakfast host,” she added.

The forthcoming breakfast host stated: “I have an immense respect for John and what he has done for 702 and South African radio in general. I know that taking over from him will be a great challenge, but I’m humbled by it and looking forward to it.”

Redi, who came out of her leave to stand in for herself and conduct an interview with former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s last month, commented: “The afternoon drive is perfectly placed to reflect the news of the day, capture breaking news as it unfolds and provide a platform for debate and reflection. I am looking forward to the show’s fast pace and unpredictability. I feel like I am going back to my newsroom roots with the added advantage of interacting with listeners.”