Another explanation has been given of the recent exits of veteran broadcasters at 702 Aki Anastassiou and Joanne Joseph. Primedia acting CEO Geraint Crwys-Williams admitted that Anastasiou should have been given the send-off he deserved.
When news came out that the veteran broadcaster who had been at the station for 30 years was leaving on the day it was announced. Many listeners were shocked with former colleagues expressing that Aki was not given a farewell of a man who had given decades to the station. The station has been accused of “purging” staff and their internal battles have been made very public.
Speaking on Bongani Bingwe Breakfast Show, Crwys-Williams said: “We have had other people leave in the past week who have worked for the station for 30 years as well and we value their contribution. It is no excuse, we should have done better, we could have sat down with Aki and found a way forward that was more appropriate. Aki remains a key part of the history of the radio station and helped us to forge something special.”
Bongani said he was only made aware of Aki’s departure or retrenchment on the day he left. Crwys-Williams said an agreement was reached within 48 hours of his departure, that it was a private matter but as Primedia, they got it wrong in handling the process.
He reiterated that the recent changes were based on an audience survey from four months ago. They have started the retrenchment process and are still in the middle of it. The acting CEO said the findings of the survey showed that they had some work to do and their listenership was declining pre-Covid-19.
He explained that the station is still in the process of changing their line up and there is no ‘purge’ occurring after Redi Thlabi left, then Eusebius McKaiser and now Joseph.
“The changes we have made are listener-led changes, they are based on what listeners require from us. We need to introduce a slightly softer tone to the radio station, whilst we still need to continue to pursue those politic stories. We also need positive human interest stories. We need a bit more light and we need to also reconnect and finding our community root,” said Crwys-Williams.
He added that from an on-air point of view, they needed to create a space where listeners can call and feel safe to share their views.
Bongani then tackled the other elephant in the room, transformation in the station. Saying it was going backwards after a capable black presenter such as Joseph was replaced by a white male presenter John Perlman.
Crwys-Williams said transformation for Primedia means diversity, equity and inclusion. That it also means the connection listeners have to the host, the “personal bond”.