Heroes of the theatre of the mind

Radio is the theatre of the mind and it is the people on the air that bring it to life every day. The 2017 Liberty Radio Awards recognised the people who have made a contribution to the medium, honouring them at a gathering of the industry’s stalwarts and rising stars.

John Robbie was the recipient of the Lifetime Achiever Award. Having worked in radio for 30 years, 17 of which were as host of the 702 breakfast show, for which he was named best breakfast show presenter at previous radio awards. “For more than half of those 30 years I got up at 02:15 every morning to be in studio by 3am. I was never late,” the recently retired Robbie told the audience.

In his years on air, Robbie was known for anti-Apartheid stance as well as his vision for free speech, receiving hate mail and death threats as a result; none of which stopped him.

I was given a chance by a small station when I was just a rugby player and thanks to that I have lived through the miracle of South Africa, he said. “In 1986, we were still living in a state of Apartheid where people were tortured, organisations were banned and in a country that was on the brink of a civil war. But we made it and for all our problems today, we never had a war. Given these problems, radio is more relevant today.”

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