Kevin Ncube is a studio producer at BBC Radio Leicester and co-director of the entertainment enterprise Golden Career Management Limited.
His broadcasting career started in Zimbabwe where he presented the breakfast TV show AM Zimbabwe before moving to the UK in 2002.During his time in Zimbabwe he also interviewed top musicians of the day such as Andy Brown and Tuku as well as Gogo MaFuyane, wife of the late Joshua Nkomo; in addition, he officiated as MC for a range of diverse acts such as South Africa’s TKZee and the Amakhosi Theatre’s Inxusa Festivals.
Kevin holds a BA Honours in Journalism and an MA in Media Studies – both attained at De Mont- Fort University in Leicestershire, UK – where he now lives and works.
How did you land in radio? What’s the journey?
The journey has been bitter sweet. I’ll forever be indebted to the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) where I gained extensive interviewing and presenting expertise in the very early ‘90s. I was discovered by the late great Reuben Munjeri who selected me to present Teen Scene. Then Victor Ncube (no relation here, just tough love) chose me to
present Music Box. My television skillset was honed under the mentorship of my favorite producer, Tula Dlamini on Showcase.
Television was a stepping stone for radio where I successfully auditioned under the tutelage of Musi Khumalo. I learnt all about voice-over work and reading scripted commercials. At Radio 3FM, I was executive producer of talent scouting. For three years I presented AM Zimbabwe, a breakfast television show focused on current affairs.
If you weren’t a presenter, you’d be…
…Maybe a swimmer because since I was six, I’ve loved swimming. I might have followed the professional swimming route you know and become like a Zimbabwean Michael Phelps – a decorated Olympian! I’m a slave to fashion too, so perhaps I would have been a David Tlale (South African fashion designer). Who knows? His designing prowess is formidable,
and he has flair.
How did you position yourself to get to where you are now?
First, I’m grateful to Sigli Ahmed, my soul mate, who encouraged me to enroll for a journalism course after I moved to the UK, so I could return to the field I loved the most. After that it was hard work. Simple. There’s also an element of being in the right place at
the right time, coupled with the power of My Redeemer, Lord Jesus Christ. I’m now part of a dynamic newsroom that works as a multi-platform news team at the BBC. I generate content, cover diary stories, do live reporting and studio produce our Vibe Show. I also deliver stories to wider audiences, working closely with regional TV and digital teams plus other programme teams on BBC Radio Leicester.
Before you joined the BBC you…
…Worked for Toc H, an international charity and membership movement that emerged from a soldiers’ club in Poperinge, Belgium during World War II. I was the manager of a key non-residential centre based in the middle of Leicester – Toc H Leicester Refugee Centre; this was my first full-time job in the UK.
A favourite show you produced/presented is…
…My very first show as a DJ on Zimbabwe’s Radio 3; I played Gladys Knight and the Pips’ ‘Midnight Train to Georgia’ in homage to the soundtrack of my childhood, thanks to my record-obsessed late dad Roger. Then I switched over completely, mixing it in with Mark Morisson’s ‘Return of the Mack’ only because that track was dominating the charts at the time. That was my ‘moment in radio’ because I had listeners eating out of the palm of my hands then!
You’ve been with the BBC for eight years now. Tell us about this chapter in your broadcasting history!
I think I’ve come full circle and feel like a fully-fledged radio journalist now! The icing on the cake is that an opportunity presented itself to me when I did a report on The Colonial Countryside Project. It assembles authors, writers, historians and primary pupils to explore UK country houses with Caribbean and East India Company connections, and also
commissions, resources and publishes new writing. I’m so privileged to manage this project under the University of Leicester’s very gracious Dr Corinne Fowler. It’s been the making of me here really. It’s fair to say I’ve earned my stripes now!
And some of your broadcasting highlights?
I’ve reported on everything from Leicester’s anti-knife project, Leicester’s West Indian Cricket Centre 60th Anniversary, fostering and the African-Caribbean community, Black Lives Matter, Sister Sledge’s UK visit, the Kenyan University attacks, female genital mutilation, exhibitions celebrating black troops in World War I as well as racial equalities
in mental health services. I’ve also covered Boko Haram, Pride, gay rights in Africa, Eid celebrations, explorations into interracial love, Mandela’s death and racism in football. I love what I do, immeasurably.
Then the interviews…I’ve interviewed Billy Ocean, Joan Armatrading, Angelique Kidjo, Reverend Jesse Jackson, the footballer Dion Dublin, Ghana Women’s Hockey Squad and Championship snooker player Rory McLeod.
Reporting about and during COVID-19 has been…
…Challenging…at first. The restrictions on travel across the UK have forced many of us to now work from home and this initially impacted my ability to work effectively. But the show must go on. Even we I work remotely, our audiences still depend on speedy but accurate bulletins. I simply refocus our news output around live updates, essential information
and answers to people’s most pressing questions – helping people feel connected and positive in these turbulent times.
What are two favourite childhood memories of growing up in Zimbabwe?
Two childhood memories?! Are you kidding me?! (laughs) I miss the ever-azure sky, the African sunshine caressing my limbs, the scent of incessant raindrops as they greet the African soil, Msasa trees losing their leaves in the pretty autumn month of August. Do not even get me started on the mauve jacaranda tree blossoms and the crimson hibiscus!
Listening to early Whitney Houston, Brenda Fassie and the unconquerable Lovemore Majaivana. As for the mouth-watering delicacies…
Living in the diaspora is…
…A gateway to many things. I must admit, before coming over, I wasn’t well travelled. The culture shock was hard to absorb. You might notice I relish and miss Zimbabwean weather, so being in the icy cold of the UK wasn’t much fun.
It’s been an advantage for me though as far as sinking my teeth into academia goes. Oh, and finding love…hopefully he’ll be my lover for life. Another great thing is that I’ve been able to create a niche for myself officiating as MC at all manner of events from weddings to corporate and stage shows. I’ve also hosted the Zimbabwe Fashion Showcase as well as the Cosmopolitan Arts Festival which celebrates cultural diversity in Leicester. I’m now the ‘face of the event’ and will be hosting it online this year.
Your two biggest challenges have been…
The thing with me is I believe real recognizes real. I used to find spin doctors a challenge at first when it came to questions about my sexuality. The press of the early 2000s back home was merely the President’s official megaphone. Maybe I’m a bit old-fashioned, but I value integrity. Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know
whether you did it or not.
The good thing is, I’m laughing the loudest now. Being outed was all a blessing in disguise. Some journalists really transgress the rights of others, don’t they? Oprah said the thing you fear most has no power. Your fear of it is what has the power. Facing the truth really will set you free. Self-esteem comes from being able to define the world in your own terms and refusing to abide by the judgments of others, and that’s what I did. However, I wrestled vigorously with reconciling my faith with my sexuality. I put God in a box as I explored what being gay meant. People who cherry-pick bible verses are doing a great injustice to themselves. They’re taking too long to understand that Jesus is love.
Another challenge was trying to attain sanctuary in England. I’d exhausted all avenues of appeal before finally being granted indefinite leave to remain.
How did you handle those challenges?
Oprah Winfrey said, ‘Turn your wounds into wisdom.’ I can sleep at night now knowing that after being unable to be a true version of myself in my formative years, the pain of living a lie for so long has finally ebbed away. Challenges are gifts that force us to search for a new centre of gravity. Don’t fight them. Just find a new way to stand.
I dare to dream now because the world is my oyster. I’m black. I’m gay. I’m enough! I have new-found confidence and speak confidently in public without fear or trepidation.
The best thing about what you do is…
Broadcasting is a labor of love for me. I enjoy working in a vibrant newsroom. I love to keep audiences engaged with the content we find. As a broadcast journalist, I’ve diversified my skills to create radio and podcast gold.
As anyone in the events industry knows, no amount of planning can predict the weather, a venue or artist/interviewee cancellation, or, as we’re currently dealing with, a global pandemic. When unexpected setbacks derail things, I love the adrenaline of coming up with a contingency plan.
I love being an effective speaker and earning a living from it whilst impacting the world positively.
How have things changed in broadcasting?
Gaining visibility online is the new normal and podcasts have become the new stage. Here’s a plug of my very latest podcast on THE IMPACT OF COVID 19 courtesy of Golden Career Management – https://www.spreaker.com/user/12284586/4922677f-manjit-covidfbclid=IwAR2y34ehmSLl-Dk0bEusMQww36vICYQUeecQGTcpcpGengA3f-7gYZGxGCba8
And what’s not so great about what you do?
Jesus take the wheel! Ain’t nothing not so great on this yellow brick road except for lack of sleep. Mine should be a 48-hour day.
The first thing you do when you wake up is…
Check my phone or iPad – whichever is closer. I’m often sourcing ideas for my next story, moving at a million miles an hour to do so.
And the last thing at night?
I work out all the productive and constructive things I’ve achieved whilst watching Netflix and chilling. I can confidently say resistance is futile when it comes to this ritual.
Three people you would love to have lunch with are…
Oprah Winfrey, because she taught me that the key to realizing a dream is to focus not on success but on significance, and then even the small steps and little victories along your path will take on greater meaning. Johnny Gill, to ask him why I was obsessed with him as a teenager. Dalai Lama, because I want to investigate why since the time of the 5th Dalai Lama in the 17th century, his personage has always been a symbol of unification of the state of Tibet.
Your favourite quote?
‘Everyone wants to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.’ It’s an Oprah Winfrey quote – you can tell I love her! And I have a friend, Jo Hollis, who’s taken the bus with me, and who I love very much.
What’s the dream?
To work with budding presenters because inner confidence can be built by combatting fears and anxiety around speaking in public. I want to help presenters have a real presence. Fear and nervousness in public speaking can be unpleasant and a stumbling block but this can be overcome by quality bespoke training and guidance.
Follow Kevin here:
Facebook: Kevin Ncube and Kevin Ncube II