Interviewed by Paola Chellew.
What is your show “Sound Bites with Edward Chamberlain-Bell” about? In one word: Destinations! It’s all about what to eat, where to go and who to know in Johannesburg and all around South Africa. I focus mainly on events and destinations in Johannesburg because we have over 30,000 listeners here, but there are also another 10,000 listeners countrywide, so it’s good to see what’s happening elsewhere too. Johannesburgers love to travel, so anything that appeals to our audience is worth talking about.
How did you get started on Radio Today Johannesburg? I l fell into radio when I applied for a freelance position reviewing restaurants. It’s taken me twenty years to break into the industry but when I finally did the opportunities grew exponentially. I just happened to be in the right place at the perfect time.
What do you do when not on radio? I have my own business ChamberlainBell.com doing online marketing and social media management. I also do corporate training, conducting communication & presentation workshops and conflict resolution.
What do you think makes you a great presenter? Being on air is a continuous learning curve because as soon as I think I’ve perfected it, I mess up horribly, so I try to keep an open mind and I always critique myself. I think complacency is the worst attribute if you want to become better at anything you do. I usually advise new presenters to ignore the microphone and focus on talking to the listener.
What do you enjoy the most about being on air? The opportunity to communicate with people. It gives me a platform to inform, educate and entertain people. I love being able to share things that I’m passionate about. It can be fun stuff, but I also address serious issues.
What was your biggest learning curve? I think finding my own voice …I don’t actually like the sound of my voice- but eventually I found my comfort zone. I try not to take myself too seriously and remind myself to have fun because this really is a fun job.
When did you know that your show was going places? I do remember a time when I was literally begging people to be guests on the show until one day PR agencies where booking up my show a month in advance. A really big moment was when Food Network approached me to include Reza Mahammad on the show while he was in South Africa promoting Reza’s African Kitchen. That opened doors to have Hilary Biller, Justine Drake and Edith Venter as guests on the show.
You’ve made some dramatic changes to the show, like changing the format and name, tell us why?Initially, we focused exclusively on restaurants for a whole hour. The station was going to axe the show unless we came up with a new format. It was literally a case of adapt or die, so I dropped the music, reduced interview times and expanded the content to discuss anything and everything that appealed to Johannesburgers. It became Sound Bites: delivering more news in a shorter period of time.
Has it changed your life? I get invited to some interesting events. Being on Radio Today has also created additional work opportunities for me as a corporate trainer. I’ve emceed some events and been cast in an online commercial. It’s all happened so effortlessly that I have to remind myself how privileged I am to be in this position.
What advice would you offer to people wanting to pursue a career on radio? Firstly, be yourself. Secondly, lose the ego. Finally, respect people’s time. The exposure presents some fantastic opportunities but that only comes after you’ve done the work.
Why do you always invite your guests to share their social media links on your show? I specialise in social media management so I understand how vital it is for my guests to engage with potential clients through their social media platforms. It also makes it easier for listeners to connect with guests if they want more information.
Sound Bites with Edward Chamberlain-Bell is brought to you by The Food Cops and Radio Today Johannesburg which is broadcast on Saturdays from 12h00 to 13h00 (GMT+2).
Radio Today (@Radio2Day) broadcasts on 1485 AM in Johannesburg and country-wide on DStv audio channel 869 and streaming audio Radio Today Johannesburg and 1485.mobi.
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