Tuks FM has been chosen to represent South Africa at the annual World College Radio Day initiative happening on 2 October. The reigning Campus Station of the Year (SA Radio Awards 2020) is the only South African radio station that was chosen to take part in the initiative. Additionally, Tuks FM was selected from a group of over 550 radio stations to feature in the 24 hour broadcast marathon, with a one hour slot at 11:00. A snippet of our one-hour broadcast can be heard below:
World College Radio Day 2020 will feature over 550 university and college radio stations from over 30 countries around the world and aims to bring awareness to the work and value they bring not only to the communities they serve, but also to the general broadcast space. This year the theme is Global Solidarity Rocks, which according to World College Radio Day’s website, reflects on current needs worldwide, from the race to find a cure for Covid-19 to all the teachers and students returning to schools and universities with much uncertainty. The aim of World College Radio Day is to raise a greater, international awareness of the many college and university radio stations that operate around the world by encouraging people who would not normally listen to campus radio to do so on this day.
Tuks FM was required to submit a one hour long pre-recorded radio show which will feature as part of the 24-hour broadcast marathon on 2 October. The station will also take part in various joint initiatives with the participating radio stations on the day. Station Manager, Leanne Kunz, says the initiative is a great way to emphasize the value of campus radio and the role it plays in the broader society. “Campus radio is about the community: the one we nurture internally and the one we serve externally. We invest in our internal community’s future by training and mentoring our student volunteers and giving them the skills they’ll need to add value in their respective professions once they enter the working world. We also provide a platform for new, local artists that are breaking into the industry and we support local causes and initiatives that unite our community and, by extension, our listeners. By taking part in this initiative, we hope to contribute to a movement that highlights the importance of these functions in the broader society, as well as the value that campus radio adds to the community it serves.”
Be sure to keep an ear out for Tuks FM’s contribution to World College Radio Day by tuning in and being part of this global initiative. For more information on World College Radio Day, visit collegeradio.org.
The radio industry is distinctly masculine. From management right through to the on air talent, males far outweigh their female counterparts. While this is not something I have generally paid much attention to – it is what it is, right? – it has become glaringly obvious as the movement towards women’s rights has gained momentum.
In 2017, I was appointed the first female station manager of Tuks FM, a radio station that will turn 30 next year. I find it hard to believe that there were no suitable female candidates during the 26 years prior to my appointment, so how could this be? Admittedly, we lived in a different world in the 80s and 90s with patriarchy being the overarching modus operandi. And, while this is still apparent today, there have been some strides toward equality in terms of women’s rights. One of Tuks FM’s presenters, Kopano Bookholane, highlighted this in an Instagram post on Women’s Day:
“HAPPY WOMXNS DAY | This past week the production team at Tuks FM asked me what makes me proud to be a womxn? At first I honestly didn’t know what to say because being a womxn in South Africa is the most dangerous thing to be. The bravest womxn marched in 1956 but we’re still marching. Marching to school, to work, to all the places we break ceilings. Marching against GBV, femicide, sexism, the patriarchy. Marching. We continue marching. And, eventually I realized that’s exactly what makes me proud to be a womxn. My everyday existence is defying the odds. I’m a young black womxn studying a triple major at one of the best universities in Africa – who would’ve thought? I’m a young womxn who is able to speak their mind on radio and social media – who would’ve thought? I’m a young womxn who has their own podcast where it’s all about political enlightenment – who would’ve thought? I’m a young womxn who can wear whatever she wants and say whatever she wants – who would’ve THOUGHT? You know who? Helen Joseph did. Bertha Mashaba did. Lilian Ngoyi did. Twenty thousand womxn thought that their defiance of the odds would allow me and 29.7 million other womxn today to continue to defy the odds. And I hope that one day we won’t have to defy the odds, but that they no longer will exist. But until then aluta continua dolls ❤️”
In order to remove those odds, actual structural change regarding women and their place in the world is necessary. It’s all good and well to celebrate Women’s Month and speak out against gender-based violence, but what are these things really doing to further women’s rights? Without real change at the structural and societal level we’re merely putting a plaster on a bullet wound. Don’t get me wrong, I think the concept of initiatives like Women’s Month is great, and I would rather have them than not. However, these things alone will not bring about real change in my opinion. They will not give women more employment opportunities, equal pay or protect them from sexual harassment. Balancing the scales in those areas requires deep, structural changes to the very fabric of society. This is a long-term solution that will require intervention from government and cooperation from society at large. It will not happen overnight. In the interim, we at Tuks FM do what we can to ensure we change the narrative when it comes to women’s rights, even if it is just in our own back yard. As a female-led radio station with a staff compliment consisting primarily of young women, Tuks FM mentors, extensively trains and provides first-hand exposure to a professional working environment thereby empowering these young leaders of tomorrow. And by investing in tomorrow’s (female) leaders today, by upskilling them and allowing them to discover and nurture their talents, we’re doing what we can to bring about real change in these womens’ lives. Happy Women’s Month to all you phenomenal women.
Tuks FM’s station manager, Leanne Kunz, will join a panel discussion, hosted by The Radio Awards which will explore industry trends, Covid-19’s impact on radio and several other issues concerning the broadcast space.
The panel will be hosted by Tuks FM alumnus, Tim Zunckel and will also feature Greg Maloka (MD of Kaya FM – Commercial Station of the Year Award winner) and Kaibe Mollo (head of marketing at African Bank).
Tuks FM has won the coveted Campus Station of the Year award for a sixth time, extending its national record over the rest of the radio sector.
Tuks FM is the only radio station in the country to have won the Station of the Year award that many times. The nearest competitor has won the accolade four times. The South African Radio Awards were hosted digitally on 17 April at 14:00 after the gala event was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tuks FM also won five other awards:
Afternoon Drive Presenter: Nthabeleng Matela
Breakfast Show: The Tuks FM Breakfast Show
Community Project: Tuks FM See the Sounds: A radio broadcast for the deaf
Music Show: The Tuks FM Top 40
Promotions Stunt/Event: Tuks FM See the Sounds: A radio broadcast for the deaf
Last year, Tuks FM also won six awards.
Station Manager, Leanne Kunz, says while they had aimed for eight wins this year, they’re more than happy. “Our main aim has never been winning awards, although it is wonderful for the volunteers – who work so hard and give so much of their time and effort – to be recognised for their efforts. While we had hoped to improve on our tally from last year, we are very proud of the collective effort and achievements of the entire crew in winning these awards.”
Mike Bower, Tuks FM’s Programme Manager was thrilled at the outcome. “We are obviously ecstatic over our wins this year. I compare how the awards have changed over the last couple of years: the competition has become stronger and the awards have become tougher, which makes our wins all the more satisfying. I’m extremely proud of our team and look forward to another year of quality broadcasting.”
What happens when an influenza pandemic shuts down entire countries? Young, funky radio stations create magic! As from Friday 27 March until the lockdown ends on 16 April, Tuks FM will bring you “Quarantine Connection” – radio designed to bring us all together in our isolation. #AloneTogether
Here’s what we’re doing to make your lockdown a little less lonely:
Our presenters will host shows from the comfort of their homes (obvs) and bring you relatable stories you can get involved with while you’re in quarantine. Did we mention these shows will be hosted on Whatsapp? As one of the biggest social media platforms in the world (and the major form of communication among the youth market) we figure the best way to reach people on platforms other than the usual FM band or digital streaming feed, is to meet them there. Let’s hang, ok?
We’ll host features that will involve online participation via social media, video or voice connection, interspersed with informative content regarding the latest COVID-19 updates. Our presenters’ main aim during this time will be to humanise this crazy reality we all find ourselves in and tell relevant, relatable stories to bring us all together (as only radio can!)
Our newsdesk will also host video news bulletins five times per day, which they’ll write and record at home. We will then post these on our social media feeds to keep you in the know regarding the more serious elements of this virus (because let’s face it, this is one of the most serious things that’s happened to the world in many, many years!)
And, our social media team will be producing some amazing, interactive digital infotainment on all our platforms to make sure you’re getting involved on every level! Think online challenges, games and loads of video content to link the whole Quarantine Connection movement together.
So, as we face 21 days in unified lockdown, let’s give a shout out to and show support for those working hard to keep the nation safe, healthy, informed and entertained.
It is a week since we declared the coronavirus pandemic a national disaster and announced a package of extraordinary measures to combat this grave public health emergency.
The response of the South African people to this crisis has been remarkable.
Millions of our people have understood the gravity of the situation.
Most South Africans have accepted the restrictions that have been placed on their lives and have taken responsibility for changing their behaviour.
I am heartened that every sector of society has been mobilised and has accepted the role that it needs to play.
From religious leaders to sporting associations, from political parties to business people, from trade unions to traditional leaders, from NGOs to public servants, every part of our society has come forward to confront this challenge.
Many have had to make difficult choices and sacrifices, but all have been determined that these choices and sacrifices are absolutely necessary if our country is to emerge stronger from this disaster.
Over the past week, South Africans have demonstrated their determination, their sense of purpose, their sense of community and their sense of responsibility.
For this, we salute you and we thank you.
On behalf of the nation, I would also like to thank the health workers, our doctors, nurses and paramedics who are on the frontline of the pandemic, our teachers, border officials, police and traffic officers and all the other people who have been leading our response.
Since the national state of disaster was declared, we have put in place a range of regulations and directives.
These regulations have restricted international travel, prohibited gatherings of more than 100 people, closed schools and other educational institutions and restricted the sale of alcohol after 6pm.
We reiterate that the most effective way to prevent infection is through basic changes in individual behaviour and hygiene.
We are therefore once more calling on everyone to:
wash hands frequently with hand sanitisers or soap and water for at least 20 seconds;
cover our nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with tissue or flexed elbow;
avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms.
Everyone must do everything within their means to avoid contact with other people.
Staying at home, avoiding public places and cancelling all social activities is the preferred best defence against the virus.
Over the past week, as we have been implementing these measures, the global crisis has deepened.
When I addressed the nation last Sunday there were over 160,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide.
Today, there are over 340,000 confirmed cases across the world.
In South Africa, the number of confirmed cases has increased six-fold in just eight days from 61 cases to 402 cases.
This number will continue to rise.
It is clear from the development of the disease in other countries and from our own modelling that immediate, swift and extraordinary action is required if we are to prevent a human catastrophe of enormous proportions in our country.
Our fundamental task at this moment is to contain the spread of the disease.
I am concerned that a rapid rise in infections will stretch our health services beyond what we can manage and many people will not be able to access the care they need.
We must therefore do everything within our means to reduce the overall number of infections and to delay the spread of infection over a longer period – what is known as flattening the curve of infections.
It is essential that every person in this country adheres strictly – and without exception – to the regulations that have already been put in place and to the measures that I am going to announce this evening.
Our analysis of the progress of the epidemic informs us that we need to urgently and dramatically escalate our response.
The next few days are crucial.
Without decisive action, the number of people infected will rapidly increase from a few hundred to tens of thousands, and within a few weeks to hundreds of thousands.
This is extremely dangerous for a population like ours, with a large number of people with suppressed immunity because of HIV and TB, and high levels of poverty and malnutrition.
We have learnt a great deal from the experiences of other countries.
Those countries that have acted swiftly and dramatically have been far more effective in controlling the spread of the disease.
As a consequence, the National Coronavirus Command Council has decided to enforce a nation-wide lockdown for 21 days with effect from midnight on Thursday 26 March.
This is a decisive measure to save millions of South Africans from infection and save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.
While this measure will have a considerable impact on people’s livelihoods, on the life of our society and on our economy, the human cost of delaying this action would be far, far greater.
The nation-wide lockdown will be enacted in terms of the Disaster Management Act and will entail the following:
From midnight on Thursday 26 March until midnight on Thursday 16 April, all South Africans will have to stay at home.
The categories of people who will be exempted from this lockdown are the following: health workers in the public and private sectors, emergency personnel, those in security services – such as the police, traffic officers, military medical personnel, soldiers – and other persons necessary for our response to the pandemic.
It will also include those involved in the production, distribution and supply of food and basic goods, essential banking services, the maintenance of power, water and telecommunications services, laboratory services, and the provision of medical and hygiene products. A full list of essential personnel will be published.
Individuals will not be allowed to leave their homes except under strictly controlled circumstances, such as to seek medical care, buy food, medicine and other supplies or collect a social grant.
Temporary shelters that meet the necessary hygiene standards will be identified for homeless people. Sites are also being identified for quarantine and self-isolation for people who cannot self-isolate at home.
All shops and businesses will be closed, except for pharmacies, laboratories, banks, essential financial and payment services, including the JSE, supermarkets, petrol stations and health care providers.
Companies that are essential to the production and transportation of food, basic goods and medical supplies will remain open.
We will publish a full list of the categories of businesses that should remain open.
Companies whose operations require continuous processes such as furnaces, underground mine operations will be required to make arrangements for care and maintenance to avoid damage to their continuous operations.
Firms that are able to continue their operations remotely should do so.
Provision will be made for essential transport services to continue, including transport for essential staff and for patients who need to be managed elsewhere.
The nation-wide lockdown is necessary to fundamentally disrupt the chain of transmission across society.
I have accordingly directed the South African National Defence Force be deployed to support the South African Police Service in ensuring that the measures we are announcing are implemented. This nationwide lockdown will be accompanied by a public health management programme which will significantly increase screening, testing, contact tracing and medical management.
Community health teams will focus on expanding screening and testing where people live, focusing first on high density and high-risk areas.
To ensure that hospitals are not overwhelmed, a system will be put in place for ‘centralised patient management’ for severe cases and ‘decentralised primary care’ for mild cases.
Emergency water supplies – using water storage tanks, water tankers, boreholes and communal standpipes – are being provided to informal settlements and rural areas.
A number of additional measures will be implemented with immediate effect to strengthen prevention measures. Some of those measures are that:
South African citizens and residents arriving from high-risk countries will automatically be placed under quarantine for 14 days.
Non-South Africans arriving on flights from high-risk countries we prohibited a week ago will be turned back.
International flights to Lanseria Airport will be temporarily suspended.
International travellers who arrived in South Africa after 9 March 2020 from high-risk countries will be confined to their hotels until they have completed a 14-day period of quarantine.
Fellow South Africans,
Our country finds itself confronted not only by a virus that has infected more than a quarter of a million people across the globe, but also by the prospects of a very deep economic recession that will cause businesses to close and many people to lose their jobs.
Therefore, as we marshal our every resource and our every energy to fight this epidemic, working together with business, we are putting in place measures to mitigate the economic impact both of this disease and of our economic response to it.
We are today announcing a set of interventions that will help to cushion our society from these economic difficulties.
This is the first phase of the economic response, and further measures are under consideration and will be deployed as needed.
These interventions are quick and targeted.
Firstly, we are supporting the vulnerable.
Following consultation with social partners, we have set up a Solidarity Fund, which South African businesses, organisations and individuals, and members of the international community, can contribute to.
The Fund will focus efforts to combat the spread of the virus, help us to track the spread, care for those who are ill and support those whose lives are disrupted.
The Fund will complement what we are doing in the public sector.
I am pleased to announce that this Fund will be chaired by Ms Gloria Serobe and the deputy Chairperson is Mr Adrian Enthoven.
The Fund will be administered by a reputable team of people, drawn from financial institutions, accounting firms and government.
It will fully account for every cent contributed and will publish the details on the website.
It will have a board of eminent South Africans to ensure proper governance.
To get things moving, Government is providing seed capital of R150 million and the private sector has already pledged to support this fund with financial contributions in the coming period.
We will be spending money to save lives and to support the economy.
In this regard, we must applaud the commitment made in this time of crisis by the Rupert and Oppenheimer families of R1 billion each to assist small businesses and their employees affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
We are concerned that there are a number of businesses that are selling certain goods at excessively high prices. This cannot be allowed.
Regulations have been put in place to prohibit unjustified price hikes, to ensure shops maintain adequate stocks of basic goods and to prevent people from ‘panic buying’.
It is important for all South Africans to understand that the supply of goods remains continuous and supply chains remain intact.
Government has had discussions with manufacturers and distributors of basic necessities, who have indicated that there will be a continuous supply of these goods. There is therefore no need for stockpiling of any items.
A safety net is being developed to support persons in the informal sector, where most businesses will suffer as a result of this shutdown. More details will be announced as soon as we have completed the work of assistance measures that will be put in place.
To alleviate congestion at payment points, old age pensions and disability grants will be available for collection from 30 and 31 March 2020, while other categories of grants will be available for collection from 01 April 2020.
All channels for access will remain open, including ATMs, retail point of sale devices, Post Offices and cash pay points.
Secondly, we are going to support people whose livelihoods will be affected.
We are in consultation on a proposal for a special dispensation for companies that are in distress because of COVID-19. Through this proposal employees will receive wage payment through the Temporary Employee Relief Scheme, which will enable companies to pay employees directly during this period and avoid retrenchment.
Any employee who falls ill through exposure at their workplace will be paid through the Compensation Fund.
Commercial banks have been exempted from provisions of the Competition Act to enable them to develop common approaches to debt relief and other necessary measures.
We have met with all the major banks and expect that most banks will put measures in place within the next few days.
Many large companies that are currently closed have accepted their responsibility to pay workers affected. We call on larger businesses in particular to take care of their workers during this period.
In the event that it becomes necessary, we will utilise the reserves within the UIF system to extend support to those workers in SMEs and other vulnerable firms who are faced with loss of income and whose companies are unable to provide support. Details of these will be made available within the next few days.
Thirdly, we are assisting businesses that may be in distress.
Using the tax system, we will provide a tax subsidy of up to R500 per month for the next four months for those private sector employees earning below R6,500 under the Employment Tax Incentive. This will help over 4 million workers.
The South African Revenue Service will also work towards accelerating the payment of employment tax incentive reimbursements from twice a year to monthly to get cash into the hands of compliant employers as soon as possible.
Tax compliant businesses with a turnover of less than R50 million will be allowed to delay 20% of their pay-as-you-earn liabilities over the next four months and a portion of their provisional corporate income tax payments without penalties or interest over the next six months. This intervention is expected to assist over 75 000 small and medium-term enterprises.
We are exploring the temporary reduction of employer and employee contributions to the Unemployment Insurance Fund and employer contributions to the Skill Development Fund.
The Department of Small Business Development has made over R500 million available immediately to assist small and medium enterprises that are in distress through a simplified application process.
The Industrial Development Corporation has put a package together with the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition of more than R3 billion for industrial funding to address the situation of vulnerable firms and to fast-track financing for companies critical to our efforts to fight the virus and its economic impact.
The Department of Tourism has made an additional R200 million available to assist SMEs in the tourism and hospitality sector who are under particular stress due to the new travel restrictions.
I want to make it clear that we expect all South Africans to act in the interest of the South African nation and not in their own selfish interests.
We will therefore act very strongly against any attempts at corruption and profiteering from this crisis.
I have directed that special units of the NPA be put together to act immediately and arrest those against who we find evidence of corruption.
We will work with the judiciary to expedite cases against implicated persons and make sure the guilty go to jail.
South Africa has a safe, sound, well-regulated and resilient financial sector.
Since the global financial crisis, we have taken steps to strengthen the banking system, including increasing capital, improving liquidity and reducing leverage.
With a strong financial sector and deep and liquid domestic capital markets, we have the space to provide support to the real economy.
We can make sure money flows to firms and households.
We can ensure that our markets are efficient.
Last week, in line with its Constitutional mandate, the South African Reserve Bank cut the repo rate by 100 basis point. This will provide relief to consumers and businesses.
The South African Reserve Bank has also proactively provided additional liquidity to the financial system.
The Governor has assured me that the Bank is ready to do ‘whatever it takes’ to ensure the financial sector operates well during this pandemic.
The banking system will remain open, the JSE will continue to function, the national payment system will continue to operate and the Reserve Bank and the commercial banks will ensure that bank notes and coins remain available.
The action we are taking now will have lasting economic costs.
But we are convinced that the cost of not acting now would be far greater.
We will prioritise the lives and livelihoods of our people above all else, and will use all of the measures that are within our power to protect them from the economic consequences of this pandemic.
In the days, weeks and months ahead our resolve, our resourcefulness and our unity as a nation will be tested as never before.
I call on all of us, one and all, to play our part.
To be courageous, to be patient, and above all, to show compassion.
Let us never despair.
For we are a nation at one, and we will surely prevail.
May God protect our people.
Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika. Morena boloka setjhaba sa heso.
God seën Suid-Afrika. God bless South Africa.
Mudzimu fhatutshedza Afurika. Hosi katekisa Afrika.
Tuks FM, the reigning Campus Station of the Year, has received a massive 19 nominations for this year’s South African Radio Awards.
This is an increase from last year’s 16 nods (excluding two Bright Star nominations). That tally does not feature any potential nominations for the Bright Star or the newly created Station Manager’s Choice categories, for which Tuks FM entered four candidates.
Community Project x2: See the Sounds: A radio broadcast for the deaf, and The Reform Platform;
Content Producer x2: Breakfast Show and The Sex Show – Duane van Wyk and Henrietta Amofa;
Music Show: The Tuks FM Top 40;
New Bulletin Reader: Nthabeleng Matela;
Night-time Show: What’s the Vibe: Sports Recap;
Promotions Stunt/Event x2: See the Sounds: A radio broadcast for the deaf, and The Tuks FM Balcony Sessions;
Radio Documentary: 012 Are We Racist?;
Weekend Radio Show: 012 Essence;
In a rare feat, Tuks FM was nominated in three mixed categories, which feature stations in the commercial, PBS and Community Sectors. These were for Content Producer; Station Imaging and Radio Documentary.
Last year, Tuks FM won six awards, including Station of the Year. The gala event, which was scheduled for 18 April, has been cancelled due to COVID-19. Winners will be announced online on 17 April at 14:00.
We hosted our year end function on Tuesday night and it was one for the books!
All our biggest achievers were celebrated, with awards handed out to our brightest stars. Congrats to the whole team for a phenomenal year, which included winning several industry awards – among them Campus Station of the Year and Best Radio Innovation at the Liberty Radio Awards – as well as an international Small Business Award.
Individual award winners are as follows:
Most promising new members (from left): Amandla Shiba; Ryan Smith; Thando Vokwana; Letlotlo Morule; Ivainashe Nyamutsamba
Personality of the year: Thapelo Lekgwathi
Workhorse of the year: Saul Oboth
Music member of the year: Goabaone Paledi
Production member of the year: Saul Oboth
Newsreader of the year: Reece Lenting
Marketer of the year: Marcus Modiga
Presenter of the year: Duane van Wyk
Unit Leader of the year: Kopano Bookholane
Member of the year: Kopano Bookholane
Well done to all our winners, and to the rest of the team for their contributions throughout 2019!
I sense your disbelief. A radio show for people who can’t hear?! That’s impossible! Here’s how we did it: a team of Tuks FM volunteers, including presenters, technical, production and social media members, all played a part in bringing the show to life. The presenters, along with interpretive dancers, acted out a radio show with emphasis on the visual, touch, taste and smell senses. Kilowatt Productions provided screens for the visual elements, as well as several bass bins that were placed under a wooden stage on which the learners were seated. These generated vibrations when songs were played or when presenters were broadcasting. A Sign Language interpreter was also on site to interpret the verbal aspects of the radio show.
The 30-minute show featured two presenters, a traffic reader, and news and sports presenters who acted out a portion of the show they would normally present verbally on air. Several big screens provided visual stimulation in the form of music videos which accompanied the song playing on air, as well as visual feeds of real-time news and sports bulletin preparation, and Whatsapps and voice notes coming in from listeners. The smell and taste elements were handled as content pieces during the show.
In the first on air link, the presenters discussed an incident during which one of them experienced a foul smell during a visit to a shopping centre, and how to politely mask the aroma. The room then filled with a sweet perfume while the presenters and dancers acted out the scene. For the taste element, the presenters chatted about whether the food we eat says anything about the type of people we are. So, if you prefer sushi over fried chicken, for instance, does that mean you’re subconsciously more bourgeoisie? They then hosted an online poll asking listeners to vote for their preference with votes showing up on the screens in real-time. As this scene was acted out, the learners were treated to fried chicken and sushi and themselves voted for their favourite.
Below is a cellphone video showing the learners dancing to a song playing on air, the vibrations of which they could feel as a result of the bass bins. The screens showing the music video can be seen in the background:
Tuks FM’s programme manager, Mike Bower, who conceptualised and organised the outreach, said the campaign aimed to refocus radio on the human element. “Radio is by far the most human of all media, and quite often, you forget that broadcasting is about people. See the Sights has focused entirely on changing people’s lives, and I genuinely believe we’ve done that. We were able to share the radio experience with 18 people who have never been exposed to that before and that is the most human thing you can do. I am very happy with the way in which we executed the campaign, and I’m extremely excited about what we can do with it in future.”
See the Sounds was a follow up to Tuks FM’s award-winning community outreach, Hear the Sights, hosted for visually impaired learners at the Pretoria Zoo in 2018.
‘Hear the Sights‘ offered Prinshof learners the opportunity to experience all the sights the zoo has to offer using the spoken word, as well as audio and tactile aids.
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.