His friends jokingly call him Mister Kfm. And they’re not wrong – Stephen Werner very much lives and breathes the medium.
Stephen discovered radio in primary school while doing his homework in the evenings. He soon realised he listens to radio in a different way his friends – they were tuning in only for the music, while he had a deep curiosity of what was going on behind the scenes. After school, his interest in media saw him enrol in a 3-year BA in Media, Journalism and Film Studies at UCT
Although he planned on becoming a filmmaker, Stephen approached CapeTalk and started working at the station – unpaid and in any possible role. His tenacity paid off and in 2006 he was appointed as support breakfast show producer for Mike Wills. Over the next 2 years he also produced shows for respected talk broadcasters Tim Modise, John Maytham and Chris Gibbons.
At the end of 2007 Stephen joined Kfm 94.5 as breakfast show producer and built his reputation as the man who could get the big names – securing interviews with the likes of Gordon Ramsay, Matt Damon, Bryan Adams, Kylie Minogue, Morgan Freeman and Jeremy Clarkson to name just a few.
In 2013 Stephen became Kfm Programme Manager and in 2019, Kfm Station Manager. This role allowed him to jump into station strategy including the repositioning, re-imaging and line-up refresh for Kfm. Since then, the Kfm 94.5 team has beaten all previous listenership figures in the province and is now unequivocally the biggest regional radio station in the Western Cape.
According to Stephen, radio is a team sport. He credits the success of the station to the team he works with and their passion for the role they play at the station and in the lives of listeners every single day.
When asked why he loves radio – the answer is simple: radio has an incredible to connect people, tell stories and pull communities together. The past year has highlighted this more than ever: “Radio is the original social media . People connect with each other through the station. They come to us for a sense of a shared experience, local and national information and escapism. The sense extremely powerful.”
The long haul
Stephen will be the first to tell you that it’s one thing to get to the number one positioning, but a totally different challenge to stay on top. “Our work now is focussed on a surgical-sharp approach to details, on keeping the team inspired, and ensuring we don’t get complacent. As a station .”
As for future aspirations, for now he loves his life working and living in the beautiful Cape – always keeping an eye out for new editions to his growing vinyl record collection.
Q&A with Stephen
Tell us something about yourself that nobody knows.
I’m a bit of a home DIYer and decorator. I also have solid electrician skills and I even know how to use a soldering iron!
What tips can you share that have helped to shape your career?
Learn like a sponge – everybody has something to teach you, from the junior intern to the CEO. Practice broad skillsets: Make it your business to understand and know all facets of your business. Be willing to put in the hours and at times, sacrifice. It’s worth it in the long run.
Best gig you have experienced?
Definitely our annual Huawei KDay music event. A space where we are able to bring the people of the Cape together and celebrate the best local artists and musicians.
Advice you would give to your 18 year old self in one sentence?
Value yourself more, trust your instincts and don’t sweat the small stuff. It’ll all work out in the end.
Best advice you were given when you started out?
Give people the benefit of the doubt.
With FAME Week Africa being hosted in the Mother City, what do you love about Cape Town?
Everything! Sunday walks on the promenade, followed by breakfast at a local spot. Daytrips to the winelands, the incredible food and coffee culture and the diversity of experience you can have in such a small city.