Radio DJ Nia Brown on fostering community and the importance of pushing boundaries

Radio DJ Nia Brown has always been a people’s person. The bold, free-spirited entertainer is a presenter, actress, MC, voiceover artists and mix DJ. Currently an anchor on YFM’s The Shakedown, she plays an integral role in driving hard-hitting conversations and controversial topics amongst South African youth. “There is something so beautiful about having full on conversations with people you have never met before and feeling like you have known them for years,” she says, of her experience being on air.

Through her presence on various media platforms, she aims to hold space or people to connect over shared experiences, and empower them through knowing they are not alone in the world. “I have the amazing ability to make people feel comfortable around me,” she shares. “And the listeners know that they can trust me with their stories.”

Glamour SA caught up with Nia on her life, career, fostering community, and the future of the South African radio industry.

You have been on the air for almost a decade. Why do you love being on radio and what makes it unique to other forms of traditional media?

Has it been that long? lol. Feels like just yesterday when I hosted my first show. Radio is such a unique platform, there really is nothing like it. It is a great platform to share opinions, gain insights, distribute information and have some fun. There really is something so beautiful about having full on conversations with people you have never met before and feeling like you have known them for years. Radio allows you to do that, no other platform gives you the opportunity to get to know people in that way.

Why do you think it’s important to have a radio station that caters to the youth of South Africa?

The only way to gain a good understanding of how young people view the world, what they’re thinking and how they’re feeling, is to talk about it. Young people are constantly going through changes, we are always learning and unlearning and always looking for new ways to grow. A platform like YFM gives young people the opportunity to converse with one another and bond over shared experiences. It is important that we know we are not alone and that the power we hold can change the world.

The Shakedown pushes creativity and delves into controversial topics. What type of subjects do you address on the show? And do you find your listeners respond to these topics?

We really love to push boundaries on The Shakedown. Our motto is “We don’t do radio, we make radio”. What we mean by that is we don’t have conversations and topics just for the sake of it. The conversations we introduce are ones we really think people are curious about and are interested in. We talk about anything and everything, from relationships to career options, spirituality to issues facing members of the LGBTQIA+ community. We also like to push boundaries when it comes to the creative content pieces we do on the show. The listeners really enjoy the content on the show, it gives them an opportunity to, even just for a moment, relax and have fun.

With the rise of digital platforms such as podcasts and streaming services, what do you think the future of radio looks like in SA (or globally)?

The great thing about radio is that it has always had the ability to adapt and grow. The comparison between radio and podcasts, to me, is unnecessary because these are two completely different platforms with different guidelines. The future of radio in South Africa looks bright because radio will continue to grow and adjust.

What are some of the most enjoyable, and some of the toughest parts of doing your job?

The most enjoyable part is when 3pm hits and I feel that rush of energy from a really great show. When I sit and think back to how much fun I have had and how amazing the interactions with the listeners were, it’s always nice to know that people walked away from The Shakedown having enjoyed themselves. The tough part is when the show ends and I realize I have to wait another 24 hours to do it all over again.

What do you believe are some of your most standout qualities that make you good at what you do?

I am honest and I think people enjoy that. I have the amazing ability to make people feel comfortable around me and the listeners know that they can trust me with their opinions and stories.

You are also really into music and have experience in acting. What are some of your other hobbies? How do you like to spend your free time?

Sleeping, I love naps. I also really enjoy DIY, I love starting a project and working with my bare hands to make something cute and pretty. I also really enjoy hiding my co-host Mthaux’s car keys, and watching him panic as he looks for them and then placing them in plain sight.

Safe to say you are an entertainer – whether acting, DJing or presenting. What are some of your aspirations for the future?

I hope to continue to entertain people to the best of my ability. I want to be remembered as an incredible broadcaster and a talented actress. I pray that all the opportunities that come my way contribute to that dream.

Do you have any advice for other young people trying to make it in the radio/media space?

Practice. Keep practicing and when you think you’re done, practice some more. Be you, Defy the Odds and dare to ask yourself #YNot?

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