Vicky Masuku: — “It’s Important for Women to be Given Opportunities to Thrive”

Legendary, that’s the way Vicky Masuku's illustrious career in sports broadcasting can be described. She has been on our airwaves, bringing us the latest sports news and commentating on various cricket events over the years. However, Masuku retired in 2015 after what can only be described as a pioneering career. All Photos: Supplied

Legendary — that’s how Vicky Masuku’s illustrious career in sports broadcasting can be described. She graced our airwaves, bringing us the latest sports news and commentating on various cricket events over the years. However, Masuku retired in 2015 after what can only be described as a pioneering career.

Masuku, who spent many years on radio as a cricket commentator, explains how her career in sports broadcasting came to fruition all those years ago. “I was working at Ukhozi FM as a regular radio announcer, doing community and cultural programs.”

“Later, I was asked to do sports anchoring on Sunday afternoons. Although I wasn’t an anchor for quite some time, the idea of covering developmental sports like cricket and rugby intrigued me. When the executive producer for sports, Joe Hudla, asked me if I would like to cover any particular sports, I chose netball and cricket. I chose cricket because it wasn’t being covered much on our radio station or others.

“I thought I should start something new that could educate people about cricket. When it came to cricket commentary, I took to it like a fish to water. In 1998, when England toured South Africa, commentary was new to listeners, so I had to start from scratch. I invited Linda Zondi in for an interview so he could teach me the basics about cricket. So, when we started commentary, everyone had an idea of what was happening, and that’s how things began for me.”

We’ve witnessed steady growth in the industry with more women now taking up positions in what has traditionally been a male-dominated career. However, things looked very different when Masuku first started, being the only female in her team. But she says her being the only woman was far from a hostile environment.

“I am happy to say that all the gentlemen I worked with at my station, as well as the SABC, treated me with utmost respect. When we had to travel to where the Proteas were playing, whether it be Cape Town, Johannesburg, or Durban, they treated me like a queen. They carried my suitcase everywhere we went, asked me when I wanted to eat lunch, and if I said yes, they would stop and get me something.

“One person I should single out, because I didn’t know that much about cricket at the time, was the late Peter Bacela. He listened to me during commentary, and then, when we got back to the hotel, he would tell me where I did well and where I could improve. He really took me by the hand, and now I can proudly say I know cricket,” she added.

Reflecting on her career, she feels it has been filled with many opportunities where she was able to add to her skill-set and learn an abundance from those around her.

“I would say I had a good career, I had a good time, and I learned a lot. Before cricket commentary, I covered athletics during the All-African Games in 1999, where I learnt about swimming. I was asked to cover swimming, and I said yes. If you asked me to do something, I just said yes, even if I didn’t have an idea about it because I knew there was somebody who was going to help me understand what it meant, how to say it, and how to do it. My journey was very fruitful.”

When it comes to what was a career highlight for her, Masuku says there isn’t just one thing that she can pinpoint, but she is more than pleased with the career she has had.

“I enjoyed everything that I did. There is no one particular event where I can say I was not happy with it.”

Masuku says that seeing so many women coming into the industry now is rather heartwarming, and the biggest channels in the country are playing their part in making this reality for ladies to be part of sports broadcasting.

“I think with the likes of the SABC, they have done very well. When I watch TV or listen to the radio, I find many women involved in sports. That is good for many reasons. The SABC, as well as other channels, are doing very well with this. I am highlighting the SABC because that is where I worked, and for me, there has certainly been great improvement.”

She feels that those in management positions need to ensure that women are given the boost they need to become successful.

“I think the important thing is that it shows that the powers that be in the industry can see the potential in women. Not only are they identifying it, but they are also using them. Even if you see that someone has potential, if you aren’t assertive enough as a manager, you can block that person. But they are open-minded and they are using the ladies and also grooming other females so that there is a pool of women to choose from.”

Masuku was entered into the gsport Hall of Fame a few years ago and feels that this is something she never thought would happen for her, given she wasn’t in the industry anymore.

“It meant a lot. I won’t forget 2017 and I won’t forget Kass (Naidoo) because I was not aware that there is somebody who still remembers what I did when I was still a sports commentator. 2017 was two years after I had retired, and I was so excited about it. I think Kass can attest to that fact. She could feel it in my voice just how excited I was about it.”

Who better than Masuku to share some valuable advice to the women who are joining the industry? She says it’s imperative to be a sponge and take in all the guidance afforded to them, as it will only help them as they look to be successful in sports media.

“The main thing I would say is that you must listen to other people, don’t be arrogant, don’t be somebody who is a know-it-all. Accept whatever advice you are given because that will help you grow in all aspects of what you are doing. Respect is also very important, respecting your audience, your management, as well as your colleagues.”

She also had this rather amusing nugget of advice that she received many years ago that has stuck with her.

“I was once told that you must never say a player made a mistake because if you are asked to go and play, you would most likely make that same mistake! Don’t say on air that so-and-so made a mistake; they were not supposed to do that (laughs).”

Masuku’s career can only be described as illustrious, but these days, her focus has shifted, yet she remains very busy with different community projects and women’s organisations.

“I am a pensioner now, but I am involved in community projects and women’s organisations like the YWCA (Young Women’s Christian Association). I am also a member of the National Language Board in the isiZulu language and the Famsa Durban board, so I am occupied with those commitments. Retirement hasn’t afforded me much free time, but I am content because it keeps me engaged.”


Main Photo caption: Legendary, that’s the way Vicky Masuku’s illustrious career in sports broadcasting can be described. She has been on our airwaves, bringing us the latest sports news and commentating on various cricket events over the years. However, Masuku retired in 2015 after what can only be described as a pioneering career. All Photos: Supplied

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