Touch HD making huge waves (Sunday World)

Online radio has become a reality and may just mean the end of conventional radio in the near future.

And Tbo Touch will go down in history as one of the pioneers of this platform locally.

After Gareth Cliff left 5FM and started Cliff Central, Tbo Touch successfully collaborated with Cliff and took on Touch Central.

After much anticipation, he finally unveiled the multimillion-rand revamped online radio station this week, Touch Central - now Touch HD.

He says that after leaving Metro FM he felt there was nowhere else to go except creating his own online station.

Touch was able to build a brand of his own while being a household name at Metro FM.

But he says his departure from the station last year was a blessing in disguise.

"It started with the Monday Replenishment segment. Station manager at the time Sibongile Mtshali wanted to cut the segment and I disagreed with this because the show was about spirituality and not necessarily religion. With no common ground found, Mtshali made the decision to suspend me and take me off air," he says.

When Touch was in talks with management, he was told to write an apology letter.

"The letter that Metro FM has from me in their records apologising, I didn't type it. Sibongile the former station manager typed it, I couldn't find it in my DNA to type that letter, I couldn't lie."

He submitted his resignation in May and left to create a bigger and better platform.

He says the evolution of media consumption such as Netflix and Apple TV are making billions of profits and that even advertisers are moving towards digital platforms.

"Content on demand is the new way of consuming media," says Touch.

He says with the digital age coming to the fore more and more, online is the way to go. It is our future - a fact that we cannot ignore.

The new Touch HD app will be interactive.

Instead of the usual calls we hear on conventional radio stations, listeners will now be able to interact with the presenters on certain topics via their cellphone's app.

"We no longer consume media the same way, this platform enables you to listen to what you want, when you want. The new station is being true to its roots, vision and mission of innovation and disruption through the changes being introduced," says Touch

The station manager Martin Vilakazi is very excited for this online platform.

"With digital migration in place, conventional radio will have to go, Digital audio broadcasting is the future," says Vilakazi.

Tbo - the man behind his special touch

The real name of the 35-year-old, born in Sharpeville, is Thabo Molefe.

He adopted the stage name Tbo Touch from the phrase "Touch and Go", because he likes to do things in an instant.

Molefe was born into a dynasty of ministries and was affiliated with the church through his grandparents. This is where his passion for music was formed. "I was co-ordinating the youth choirs and events."

In Grade 8, when he attended Suncrest High School in the Vaal, he coordinated his first music event - The Freshers Ball - using church equipment.

That is where he had his first taste of credibility after the event was a success. It was then that he realised business was in his DNA.

He left for New York when he was still a teenager and was adopted by Grace Jones's family. Molefe interned at Def Jam Records in the States when he was still a student. He witnessed the growth of the hip-hop industry at the time.

With the Def Jam back-ground, he made contact with big artists such as Akon and John Legend. "I heard about an African artist who is blowing up in the US, I wanted to put Africa on the map and brought him to SA," he says.

In 2003 he met with former Metro FM station manager, Lesley Ntloko. He was given a two-minute telephonic feature to update SA on happenings in New York. In April 2004, he broadcasted live from New York to SA. Rapper, T.I. was his first celebrity guest on the show.

"South Africa had a bridge between showbiz worldwide and Africa, a listener from Umlazi could hear directly from international celebrities abroad."

In September 2004, he returned to SA where he took over Zak Dakile's Rhyme and Reason Saturday show.

In 2011 he went independent and was given a prime drive-time slot, The Touchdown.

The DJ says he faced the challenge of wanting to be an entrepreneur and serve the station. "One of the big lessons I learnt while I was at Metro was that you are as good as your last show."


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