Martin Bester: Awardwinning radio presenter

Martin Bester

Martin Bester is a South African singer and songwriter. He is also a popular and multiple award-winning radio presenter on Jacaranda FM and a television presenter. 

He obtained his BA degree in Psychology and isiXhosa from the University of Port Elizabeth (now NMMU).

The South African radio and television personality has been active for more than twenty years in the entertainment industry. He was born in Bethal in Mpumalanga but he grew up in Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape.

Martin Bester began his career in the broadcast industry as an undergraduate student studying psychology and isiXhosa. That was when he joined the campus radio station of the erstwhile University of Port Elizabeth. And from there, he got an opportunity to work with Algoa FM.

Today, Martin hosts the popular Breakfast With Martin Bester show on Jacaranda FM. The popular morning is on air from 6 am to 9 am every weekday and is one of the biggest radio shows in the country. Among other things, the show is known for its constant surprises and listener engagement.

Martin is the lead singer of the SAMA-nominated band Kinky Robot and released his first solo Afrikaans album ‘Vir Die Eerste Keer’ in 2016. His debut solo album spawned hits like ‘Wat weet ek tog’, ‘Ou Spoor’, and ‘Sterre’.

His 2020 single ‘Anders’ topped various chart shows and the music video was nominated for an Afri-indie Independent Music Award 2021. Martin was also the winner in the Adult Contemporary category.

Martin’s latest single, “Lilly”, has also scored number one status on SA’s biggest commercial radio station, Jacaranda FM, amongst other chart successes across the country.

Kinky Robot’s debut single, ‘Hobie Beach’ was written about a popular beach in Martin’s hometown of Port Elizabeth. The song received a SAMA nomination for ‘Record of the Year’ and was voted into the top 5 of the category by the South African public. The song was a Top  20 hit on just about every English format radio station.

His music takes him and his band all over South Africa and beyond, at events and festivals.

Q & A with Martin:

Tell us a little bit about your career.

I am a South African radio and television presenter, musician, actor and MC. I am proud to say that I have been in the entertainment industry for over 20 years. I am currently hosting ‘Breakfast with Martin Bester’ on Jacaranda FM, for which I won awards for Best Breakfast Show Presenter in 2019 and Best Breakfast Show in 2020 and 2021. I have also presented numerous television shows, including “Wie’s my Liefie”, “Tweestryd” and “DKNT”.  I am proud to be a musician as well. I am the lead singer of the SAMA-nominated band Kinky Robot and a solo Afrikaans artist as well.

What is your favourite thing about what you do?

I really do what I love. I love performing, entertaining and making people feel good about themselves. I love making people’s day. When you get to do what, I suppose, you’re meant to do, that makes you really really happy intrinsically. There is so much I love about Breakfast With Martin Bester on Jacaranda FM as a show as well. Good Morning Angels really stands out. It’s amazing to be part of a story where you help people and try make things better for people and I get to do music. I am a musician myself and I love watching other people perform and listening, watching, recording and performing music and we get to do that as well on the show.

What is your best career highlight so far?

I think when it comes to the presenting part of my career, and where my love for music meets my passion for presenting, is when I get to support other musicians. A highlight would include forming a kids band, The 942s. I loved putting that together and eventually co-writing, recording and releasing a single for them. Watching them thrive and the joy that it brought them made me incredibly happy. In recent times, that stands out.

How do you think we can grow the creative industry and bring African content to the world?

I think its about telling more of our stories in our own voice, in our own accents and in our own experience. The world is ready to hear it. If you see the people who are hitting it big around the world who are from here, they are unashamedly South African and don’t try to change themselves to try and fit in. It tells you that the world is interested in us and curious about us and want us to be part of the world’s content mix. They want to hear our stories and taste our flavours.

How did your journey in the industry begin?

In the presenting and radio space, it started at varsity at campus radio. I got into it when I was studying at the University of Port Elizabeth back then and joined the radio station there. I went on to become the station manager there and I was eventually asked to work at a regional radio station in the Eastern Cape before I joined the Jacaranda FM team.

What and who inspires you?

I think its two-fold. I am always a supporter of the underdog and I come from humble upbringings where I didn’t often get many opportunities. Being interested in the industry I am in with, I couldn’t get to auditions so I am always keen to help the underdog – people who want to reach their goals. I love supporting people and being their champion so that’s definitely something that inspires me.

On the other hand, people who are masters in their craft inspire me. Whether its someone who sings beautifully or is great at acting and is really passionate about their craft really inspires me and even brings me to best. People who push themselves to the next level.

What tips can you give an artist who wants to build a reputation and a career that is going to keep them relevant in the industry?

I think now, more than ever before, it’s easier because we have the power of social media. These platforms give users the opportunity to upload their own material or content. You are not reliant on someone else to do it for you. People are content creators when they have access to social media or have blogs.

At the same time, it also makes things quite cluttered because it does make it easy for everyone to put their craft online so the challenge is to stand out – which should inspire you to try harder or do better or try refine things. So, my advice is, always remember to put yourself out there. Use the platforms that are available and that are free to use and easily accessible to push yourself. Don’t keep your craft to yourself. Get it out there as much as possible.

What is your favourite thing about Africa?

Well, it’s home. I’m South Africa. I also love the fact that we love music and dance and other creative expressions that we love utilising. As someone who loves listening to, writing, recording, performing and supporting music, I love how we resort to music when we are happy and when we are sad. I love the rhythm and the beat and the sound of our continent.

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FWA Connect bringing the Film, Arts, Media and Entertainment sector together by providing creative industry professionals on the African continent with news, trends and in-depth articles.

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