Monthly Archives Sep 2019

Ad Astra is out now and it’s named in Latin so you know what that means. We’ve had Avengers Endgame and more Star Wars is right around the corner, so naturally it’s time once again for Hollywood’s annual attempt at highbrow Sci-Fi which doesn’t make any money when not done by Christopher Nolan, but which does sometimes ask important questions about the nature of humanity and what to do if we ever meet an angry monkey in space. Wait, what are angry monkeys doing in this movie?

People have said the movie is pretentious which might be a little unfair. It’s messaging and themes are to subtlety what a hammer is to kneecaps. The opening of the film even contains a nice translation of the Latin title, just in case you were put off by not understanding one hundred percent of the name, which is to be expected from a country which still gets the philosopher’s stone wrong. And while I personally like a nice, confusing romp through space, there’s certainly something to be said for an inexplicably simple story about a guy on a secret mission to Mars to send a laser to his dad, who’s shooting antimatter at earth, or just dead, in which, occasionally, there is an angry monkey.

I mean, strictly speaking the synopses have been deliberately vague, which serves the film well because you’ll reach parts of the story and genuinely not know what’s coming next, partly because there’s some three-act structure deconstruction going on. But, essentially the story is just about Roy McBride, a really good astronaut with a not-at-all on the nose heart condition that everybody seems to think is somehow a good thing, heading off into space to find his dad because he might be shooting emps at the inner region of the solar system, for reasons that aren’t immediately clear because he’s meant to be dead.

That simplicity does mean we’re locked into Roy McBride’s perspective for the whole film. If you told me the success of a movie depended entirely on the performance of Brad Pitt and whether or not he could bring this incredibly closed off character to life in a way that creates a sense of sympathy you wouldn’t expect for somebody described as an actual psychopath, I might tell you to go away and continue working on the Ratatouille extended universe, starting with the sequel, Hamburger, but that’s because I forgot just how well he can act. It’s a weird trick; maybe because he’s pretty I forgot that once his credited private chef has stepped out of the shot, the crew have all signed their agreements not to go to TMZ with any hot goss about the Branjelina breakup, and the camera is rolling, he’s actually been acting for a lot for longer than I’ve been alive, and he’s really damn good at it. I’ve seen Benjamin Button so it’s a weird thing for me to forget. Basically, if you want to watch Brad Pitt do capital A Acting for two hours straight, and absolutely nail it, Ad Astra has you covered.

There is a little bit of subversion happening, outside of just story structure. Sci-fi tends to ask very specific questions about the future, and get into stuff like man vs machine, or man vs poop potatoes on mars, maybe woman vs gravity. There’s always a lot of tension surrounding what we are and aren’t capable of. That’s something that Ad Astra sort of just ignores. Can we communicate with Neptune via secure laser? I mean, sure, why not. We can fly there in 79 days, too. It’s never about the limitations of technology – there are none. It’s also not really about the scientific discoveries the film mentions in passing. It’s concerned with who Roy McBride is and what his estranged, dead, space criminal dad means to him. Space pirates and mad monkeys lurk on the periphery, but there’s an extent to which all that sort of stuff just happens to be there.

And my apologies to the people in the cinema with me, for laughing through the segment where some guy gets eaten by a monkey on a spaceship. I just thought that was a really funny way to go. Imagine you worked for NASA, and when you went to somebody’s spouse/life partner/long-time roommate they owed rent to, to tell them their friend had died, and they very reasonably asked how, expecting malfunctioning air-locks, miscalculated trajectories, or maybe even that thing where the oxygen ignites and turns the spaceship into a giant fireball, and you have to tell them to their face: “No, actually Stephen got eaten by a monkey.” For starters, they’d slap you. And they’d be right to do so. Not that there’s anything wrong with getting eaten by a monkey, although I guess if that’s how I go you do now have my full permission to laugh at me. It’s just not the sort of thing people go all the way to outer space for. If I wanted to, I could get eaten by monkeys in my garden. Anyway, the apology is mostly because immediately after that, in a heartfelt and fantastically performed monologue by Brad Pitt, he explains the monkey represents his suppressed rage, brought out in the harsh void of space, or something equally silly sounding when you say it out loud, and that’s what I actually laughed about. It was genuinely good cinema, just done through a super weird lense, involving sudden monkeys in space, so if you want a mood tester to let you know whether this movie is worth it, there you go. This movie is filled with sudden monkeys, by which I mean utterly bizarre things happening which ultimately serve to interrogate Pitt’s character on his quest for Neptune.

It’s not subtle but it is gorgeous, an impressive achievement given that the most expensive thing in any given shot is probably Brad Pitt’s face, and I reckon it’s probably worth sticking around to see where the movie is going with its vaguery and existentialist paranoia. I’m giving the film nine angry monkeys out of 11, with the strict advice not to watch it unless you want a movie that likes toying with you. Also, yes, I’ve been using the word monkey wrong, it is a baboon, and I don’t care.

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Tuks FM has won a 2019 Small Business Award, hosted by CV-Magazine, for Best Campus Radio Station in South Africa.

According to Corporate Vision’s website, the Small Business Awards recognise the outstanding achievements, dedication and hard work of those running a small business or organisation. The awards include small businesses from around the globe and from a vast and diverse range of business sectors. All candidates nominated have either been put forward by CV-Magazine themselves in a publisher cast nomination, or via a third party on an online voting form. 

Tuks FM’s Station Manager, Leanne Kunz, says the award is a huge honour: “I’m so happy that Tuks FM is being recognised for the hard work we’ve put in over the past two years, when we started as a brand new management team. It’s been a rollercoaster to say the least: from implementing a brand new strategy and all new structures; to creating a new vision, mission, ethos and culture – but I wouldn’t change it for anything. We’ve all grown and learned so much, and this is only the start. We’re already onto the next big thing!”

The Small Business Awards are judged by a highly experienced panel which consists of an international, multi-lingual collective of individuals, with backgrounds from a myriad of fields including business, media, journalism, history and European languages.

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Tuks FM hosted an Alumni Reunion in Pretoria on Saturday which was attended by some 80 Tuks FM’ers of years past.

The event was an attempt to bring together the different eras of Tuks FM, and celebrate the radio station that in most cases was the start of a lifelong love for radio and media. The event was attended by well known alumni including Anele Mdoda, Rian van Heerden, Ayanda MVP and Rob Forbes.

Van Heerden, who was a guest speaker, said Tuks FM was where he discovered a passion he didn’t know existed. “Tuks FM gave me a career. I was just another law student when I came across a poster advertising for radio presenters at what was then Radio Tuks. I walked into the interview with my briefcase and said I wanted to be on air. From there, I discovered my calling in life; much more than just a job. And I have Tuks FM to thank for that.”

Bronwyn Hardick, who was part of Tuks FM’s marketing department in the early 2000s, said “A huge thank you to Tuks FM’s management for taking the initiative to make the Alumni Reunion happen. It was really special to have so many rad, passionate people together in one room.”

The event also featured an auction in which items such as posters, photo boards and newspaper articles were sold to the highest bidder.

The Alumni Reunion will become a regular part of Tuks FM’s events calendar moving forward.

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Tuks FM’s crew, including over 40 new recruits, enjoyed a day of learning and networking with some of the station’s big name alumni at the weekend.

The training day, which was the culmination of a week-long orientation period for the new recruits, featured five alumni as well as a regular contributor to Tuks FM in the events space.

Each speaker was selected to offer their specific expertise to the different departments (presenting, news, music, activations and events, social media, tech/production). They presented an hour-long training session with the relevant department followed by a networking session during which time volunteers were given the opportunity to engage with any of the speakers.

Ayanda MVP (947) chatted to the presenters; Nadia Romanos (5FM) hosted a talk with Tuks FM’s news department; Zanele Potelwa (5FM) chatted to the station’s social media department, while JD Mostert (Kaya FM) trained the technical and production department. Sony Music’s Monique Stander offered her insights to the music department, and Rob Perreira (RAM Touring) shared his knowledge with Tuks FM’s activations and events department.

Tuks FM relies heavily on its alumni to give back to their alma mater by sharing their knowledge with tomorrow’s broadcasting talent. Previous alumni to have offered their services include Rob Forbes (5FM), Robbie Kruse (5FM) and Rian van Heerden (Jacaranda).

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Every year in August and February, Tuks FM interviews for new recruits to join our team of volunteers.

This intake was different though, as the ‘newbies’ had to go through a reinvented week-long orientation process, affectionately dubbed Steve Week. Leanne Kunz, Tuks FM’s station manager, says the purpose of Steve Week is threefold: “Tuks FM is expanding rapidly and with that comes new positions and roles for our volunteers which are essentially uncharted territory for us. So firstly, Steve Week is about ensuring every volunteer understands who we are, who we speak to, our vision, mission, ethos and culture. It’s also about informing volunteers of their roles and responsibilities and exactly where their department fits in within the broader organisation.

Kunz says Steve Week is also about bridging the divide between the new recruits and existing volunteers. “We found that the new recruits were forming their own friendships while the ‘oldies’ stuck to their groups. The activities we created for Steve Week ensured that the newbies had to interact with the oldies and were made to work in teams to achieve certain outcomes. This proved very effective in bringing the two groups together.”

“Finally, Steve Week is about creating a sense of pride of belonging to Tuks FM; an understanding that this is the best possible platform to learn, gain valuable work experience and a skill set that will stand volunteers in good stead for the rest of their careers”, said Kunz.

Steve Week included a Tuks FM Olympics – in which teams participated in egg and spoon races, wheelbarrow races and several games aimed at encouraging social interaction – a Tuks FM Quiz and a Radio Drama. The week ended with a ‘Graduation Day’ which featured a full day’s training and a welcoming ceremony for the new recruits. Six Tuks FM alumni – Ayanda MVP (947), Monique Stander (Sony Music), JD Mostert (Kaya FM), Nadia Romanos (5FM), Zanele Potelwa (5FM) and Rob Perreira (RAM Touring) chatted to the crew and shared their knowledge in their specific fields of expertise.

Steve Week will no become a bi-annual event, with new recruits going through the process before starting training for their specific departments.

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