In 2023, Karabo Ntshweng observes a milestone.
The 31-year-old famed radio and TV presenter has been a familiar face and voice for South Africans all over the country since her breakout gig as a YoTV presenter in her teens.
She has now taken over the primetime 5 Nights show on the famous public youth radio station 5FM as a presenter and producer, after heading the 04:00 to 06:00 early morning slot.
Karabo chats to TRUELOVE and tells us about her two-decade-long career in the media industry and how she balances it all.
Speaking on what inspired her to pursue a career in the media landscape, Karabo says, “I feel like it almost isn’t something that I chose, but it chose me. From doing ads and magazine features when I was a baby, to fully then starting my career at 11 years old when I started on YoTV, media honestly chose me, I’ve done it since I was a child. I don’t think there’s ever a time when I was like ‘oh this is what I want to do.’ But definitely when I got a little bit older, and I got into varsity I think that’s when the decision was ‘okay do you want to carry on with this thing that chose you?’
“I’ve always just been very passionate about entertaining, educating, empowering and inspiring people and that is exactly why I’m on the platforms that I am on... so yes, media chose me, but then I think as I’ve gotten older I have chosen it and I have used it as a tool really to make some sort of difference in the world because I think that is why we are given the gifts that we’re given and the talents that we’re given. I think you need to make some sort of impact with those talents you are given,” she explains.
Karabo’s decision to choose media as her destined path brought her to the National School of the Arts in Johannesburg where she studied drama. However, Karabo attributes her time on YoTV as the gig that helped her hone her skills.
“I think while I was on YoTV definitely that was schooling enough in terms of broadcasting. I think everybody would agree that watched YoTV back in the day that those are some of the best presenters still and best broadcasters in the country even now. So, I think that’s definitely where my skills were honed,” she says.
She joined Wits University in 2010 where she became a radio presenter at the campus radio station Voice of Wits, or VoWFM, for four years.
Karabo goes on to tell us how transitioning to radio was a different ballgame to TV broadcasting, and how important her time at VoWFM was as it allowed her to immerse herself into the tricky landscape that is radio broadcasting.
“I didn’t want people to think ‘oh, she just got a radio gig because she was a YoTV presenter’. Radio is completely different, it’s a different medium, it’s a difficult medium, and it was so important for me to respect it and I respect every single thing that I do.”
Karabo’s journey after graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Organisational Psychology and Anthropology and volunteering at VoWFM took her to Primedia’s 947.
Working her way up the ranks, she began hosting graveyard shifts timeslots and weekend shows while also working a 9 to 5 job at 947 as the digital content creator.
“So, I feel like I’ve really spent the last over a decade, especially when it comes to radio, honing those skills by doing graveyard shows, by doing campus radio… and now moving into this space that I’m in with my new show at 5FM. I feel like it’s definitely something that, yes I’ve worked hard for, but what I have done is put in the hours. They say it takes 10 000 hours to get good at something, I’ve clocked more than those 10 000 hours, and that’s important me,” she tells us.
When finding out she would be taking over the 5 Nights slot on 5FM, Karabo tells us how much of a surprise it was for her and how she aims to stay versatile as a presenter whose voice is ready for radio, at all times of the day.
She explains to us that “people’s lives are completely different early mornings at four o’clock in the morning to what they want to hear at night. And so, for me, I think I’m grateful for my management at 5FM for realizing my talents and my versatility as a presenter, but definitely to the 5FM audience as well.”
Following radio veterans like Nicole Fox, Gareth Cliff, and Roger Goode, as well as succeeding Smash Afrika on the 5 Nights slot solidified Karabo’s talents and stature in the radio industry.
“I have so many big plans to execute [which is] what I think the platform is all about, right. It’s empowering youth, it’s championing local music that is so important to me, it’s celebrating young people in this country, it’s really just being a true reflection of our country, whether it’s the serious, whether it’s the not-so serious,” she explains.
The last year or so has been full of milestone events for her to remember.
Not only is Karabo celebrating 20 years in the media industry, in August 2022, she got married to her long-term partner David Molotlhanyi.
READ MORE | EXCLUSIVE | Inside Karabo Ntshweng's dreamy wedding celebrations
Touching on how she manages to balance her busy work schedule while still making time for the people most important to her, Karabo tells us how important it is for her to take everything one day at a time.
“I take everything day by day, I take on what I can. I’ve really stopped with the whole being busy for the sake of being busy. I’m so intentional about every single thing that I do. So, if I have made a commitment with you, I’m intentional about it, I will honour it. But if I cannot and I do not have a capacity for you at that moment, I need to create that boundary.”
One word of advice she would tell teen Karabo is to trust the process.
“Trust myself, trust the process, live in the moment and enjoy things right then and there instead of worrying so much about the future… I’m starting to slow down now and live in the moment and enjoy the moment and not really stress myself so much about what’s going to unfold, because I’ll always land up where I’m meant to be, always.”