Media personality Pearl Shongwe is living her dream. She’s a TV and radio news anchor at the SABC and Metro fm, but also one of SA’s most sought after voice artists. Her day starts at 5am and ends in the early evening, but she still has time for family, watching sport and reading a good book. This go-getter took time out of her busy schedule to chat to justjody.co.za
Where and when did your love for broadcasting start?
It started around the age of 12. Growing up in Ennerdale, I always watched other broadcasters on TV; whether it was young presenters on SABC’s YO TV or news broadcasters. I was always intrigued by their ability, eloquence and the ease at which they did their work. I was sure that I too could do it. I saw myself as a figure that wanted to connect with audiences through the screen and inform the nation.
What do you love most about your job? Also career highlights?
I love that I get to use my natural talents to earn a living. I always say that is a huge blessing to be working in an industry that I love. Tough as it is, I love that I get to express myself in different ways through my work.
And career highlights? Goodness me! There’ve been so many highlights, but to narrow them down…The first time I worked on the Carling Black Label Championship Cup in 2014 was epic! I’d never experienced anything like the electrifying energy at that stadium before, and there were goals scored – something that’s become a rarity at a Soweto Derby. I was almost reduced to tears – I was in awe of just how spectacular the whole thing was!
Another one was when I worked on the SA Sport Awards – I’ve fortunately had the privilege of working there many times since 2013 but that first time was magical. Knowing that millions of people would be hearing my voice on such a big production was beyond exciting! It was a lot of pressure, but fortunately, my adrenalin kicked in and I excelled. I didn’t fluff, not once…
The most recent highlight was being the TV Host for the 5th season of SABC 1’s One Day Leader – an inspiring show that seeks to turn young leaders into future leaders. Also, when I program directed the NYDA’s 1st Youth Volunteer International Conference, in partnership with the Flanders government. I love connecting with live audiences, and being challenged. Comfort zones are paralyzing so I enjoy that I get to extend my talents beyond the TV and Radio studio.
News junkie Pearl Shongwe
Describe a typical day in the life of Pearl Shongwe?
No two days are the same but Monday to Friday my day starts at around 05:00 when I wake up. There’s usually no time for breakfast but sometimes I try and eat when I get to work. I head to Metro FM, where I work as a news reader on the AM Edition which is between 08:00 and 10:00. Then I have to record the SABC 1 TV line-up’s as I am the channel’s (female) voice over artist, and Selimathunzi (depends what day it is). My agent also keeps me very busy so I often have to drive to another voice recording or a casting of sorts. I am back at the SABC building by 2pm, where I start to prep for going on air – I work as a sports anchor on a news bulletin called ‘News Today’, which is on SABC’s 24 hour news channel. The show wraps at 5:30pm then I head home, unless I’ve made a special arrangement with clients to record their voice-overs after working hours.
My weekends are crazy – they start at 03:00 when I wake up to work co-anchor the weekend edition of SABC’s Flagship show, Morning Live.
What would still like to achieve in your career?
A lot! But adding ‘International Broadcaster’ to my list of achievements would make me very happy! Also, I’d like to make enough money to open up a Television school in the township to cultivate and nurture young talent.
How do you do to relax?
I enjoy spending time with my family and best friend! Time is such a commodity, so I I’ve learnt to use it wisely. I enjoy watching sport – tennis, athletics and football in particular, travelling when time and money allow J Also, a book in hand is always part of my ‘me’ and ‘happy’ time.
Your advice to anyone who wants to pursue a career in broadcasting?
This is such a difficult question because this industry is so tricky to enter and navigate. But, I think we always know when we are meant to be following a certain path – so stay true to yourself and your vision for your life. Do what you can to uncover all your potential. If you can’t afford to attend classes to refine your skills, then teach yourself! Don’t wait for opportunities, create them. Lastly, Be optimistic and approach every gig as if it’s your last!