Little Known Details of Kenya’s Legendary Radio Presenters

  •  A wiseman/woman - okay, let's just stick to person - a wise person once said that old is gold, and that one should always pay homage to their roots.

    Capital FM (or Capiroo if you're lost), is arguably one of the country's most recognisable radio broadcasting brands. It has this aura of experience and credibility that just pulls you in.

    Officially launched back in 1996 after the government finally decided to liberalise the airwaves, Capital FM quickly established itself as the cradle of radio journalism and entertainment.

    This is mostly due to its pioneers in regards to presenters, the individuals who had the courage, coupled with a tonne of ambition to overcome the obstacles that always develop when one tries to do something worthwhile, especially when it is new and different.     

    Here's a fun fact for you, Capiroo was the launchpad for a huge chunk of radio presenters and media personalities, who not only laid the ground for Kenya's vibrant radio scene, but grew into titans of their respective fields.

    This piece is a tribute to this group of valiant men and women, who opted for the road less travelled and in doing so, earned their seats at the table of legends.

    Let's get right into it, shall we:

    Maina Kageni

    Classic 105 Radio Presenter Maina Kageni

    I bet you didn't know that one of, if not, the most recognisable personality on Kenyan radio started out at Capiroo now did you?

    Maina Kageni is a man that needs no introduction. He is without a doubt one of the most influential personalities in the country and whatever he has to say be sure hordes of people will want to listen. Maina has been on radio since time immemorial and his vast experience makes him one of the most bankable radio presenters in the country.

    His career in radio goes way back to when he was at Capital FM. Back then, he was just a voice on the radio reading the news and he was nowhere near the striking man he is now.

    He was the inexperienced young lad fresh from college looking to make it and he definitely has.

    Kageni is currently working at Classic FM, where he co-hosts the popular morning show (just step into any matatu in the morning, and chances are you'll hear his voice), alongside Kenya's King of comedy, Daniel 'Churchill' Ndambuki.

    Maqbul Mohamed

    Maqbul Mohammed

    Despite being renown for his exemplary acting skills in legendary shows such as Reflections, Makutano Junction and Auntie boss, Maqbul spent the best part of a decade as a radio presenter at Capital FM.

    Once he announced that the show on May 31, 2019, would be his last, there was a massive outpouring of emotional message for the man who had held it down at the station for at least 12 years.

    Back in February, the Auntie Boss star bravely came clean about his battle with depression and alcoholism, attributing his eventual successful healing to close family and friends.

    Maqbul is currently back doing the one thing that still brings a spark back to his eyes, acting, having fallen in love with the craft back in 1991, when he auditioned at the Phoenix Theatres.

    All seven seasons of his critically acclaimed show, Auntie Boss, are currently available on Showmax.

    Fareed Khimani

    Fareed Khimani

    Fareed Khimani is another legendary Radio and TV personality who ruled the Kenyan airwaves.

    He is remembered by many as the presenter who caused a lot of controversy during his time on radio.

    He started as a radio presenter on Capital FM before growing into a renowned host of the morning show. This was back in 2000 when he started off and grew into one of the best radio presenters in the country.

    He also worked with other radio stations such as XFM and Nation FM. Fareed recently made a comeback to radio on Nation FM.

    Anne Kiguta

    Anne Kiguta and Jalang'o on Milele FM

    Currently back on our screens with one of the most talked-about shows in the country, Punchline, on K24 TV, it's hard to picture the vibrant Kiguta behind a mic at a radio studio.

    However, her passion for mainstream news started way back in the mid-2000s, when she worked at Capital FM as a senior anchor and reporter, before breaking into television with a bang.

    The hard-hitting queen of politics is currently serving up intense political interviews at the Mediamax-owned K24 every Sunday.

    Prior to her hiatus and anticipated comeback, she was a news anchor and political show host at Citizen TV for several years. 

    Pinky Ghelani

    Pinky Ghelani

    Lauded as one of the most ambitious and hardworking media personalities in the industry, Pinky set out with one goal and only one goal in mind during her teens, to be a household name in Kenya.

    Well, it's safe to say she went over and beyond her initial target.

    It was while at Capital FM,  that Kenyans awakened to the fact that the trendy, and savvy Pinky Ghelani had arrived. 

    Her star burned bright for years, bagging award after award in the ilk of a young Lionel Messi in his prime.

    "Once you learn to love who you are, that is when you step into your true power," she once stated when quizzed on one thing she's learned over her exemplary career.

    Having hung up the mic back in 2004, Pinky currently does a myriad of things, from launching her own communications company, speaking at various prestigious shows such as TedX, This Is My Story, Dadasphere and Engage, as well as serving under the UNHCR.

    She also runs My Power of Her Initiative, a push for empowered women to empower other women,

    Dj Pinye

    DJ Pinye

    One of the OGs when it comes to deejaying in the country, it would be an understatement to refer to Pinye as a trendsetter.

    Just mention that he will be playing at a gig and you'll probably need more space, as it will be a full house. 

    Pinye perfected video-mixing, back when most of the current top deejays were still playing with crayons at the schoolyard, going on to produce a five-time award-winning television music show, The Beat.

    He once had a short stint at Capital FM after he had successfully pioneered the first-ever Dj mix show at Metro FM.

    The man of many 'firsts', announced his retirement during his 45th birthday back in 2016, adding that he would now be mentoring young upcoming talent.

    Going on to launch his much-awaited project dubbed 'Dreams 2 Beats', that is aimed at providing management and guidance to Kenyan talent.

    Eve D'souza

    Eve D'Souza

    You'd be right to call her the original radio queen, the lady who served up hits after hits, the lady who single-handedly made the word homework great again.

    Having joined the franchise in 2003, the sultry-voiced presenter engineered a 'cult-like' following on her revolutionary Hits Not Homework show.

    No offence to the upcoming acts but her 9 years at the helm is yet to be replicated.

    She has since moved on to conquer the world as a production manager and actress. She runs a television production house, Moonbeam Productions, which produces the critically acclaimed Auntie Boss!, a sitcom that she co-produces and stars in.

    Wonder-woman, no?

    Caroline Mutoko

    Media personality Caroline Mutoko.

    Mutoko needs little introduction to say the least, having graced our airwaves for as long as I can remember. The outspoken radio queen may have made her name on Kiss FM, but it was actually Capital FM that gave her wings.

    She started out as a timid anchor, only to blossom into an unstoppable force, airing issues that were deemed to be too bold. 

    Alongside the comical Walter 'Nyambane' Mong'are, the effervescent presenter ran the airwaves on Kiss FM's breakfast show.

    Mutoko once confessed that if she had not ventured into the radio industry, she would have been a teacher.

    She currently serves as a brand ambassador, a corporate MC, and a marketer through her social media platforms. Couple this with her major investments in the real estate industry, and you'll catch a glimpse of why she's regarded as an icon.

    Cess Mutungi

    Cess Mutungi

    This is one lady who was never shy to confront those topics, that you'd only tackle in secret cult-like meetings.

    The husky-voiced presenter had one of those infectious laughters that could melt even the coldest of hearts.

    A veteran in every sense of the word, Cess was a senior presenter-cum-producer of Capital FM's Jam 98.4, an afternoon radio show which runs every day from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., for the better part of a decade.

    She actually ended up as a radio presenter by pure accident, making it one accident we are truly thankful for, no?

    “Actually I wanted to be a Christiane Amanpour! But a chance meeting with Bob Kioko, then head of Radio at Nation FM changed my destiny,” she once confessed.

    Dubbed 'chairlady' largely due to her larger-than-life persona and unapologetic personality, the imperial presenter hung up her mic on May 28, 2019, going on to receive an emotional send-off fit for the queen that she is.

    Muthoni Bwika

    Muthoni Bwika.

    Her name was synonymous with everything that was good about radio back in the day.

    Muthoni Bwika ruled the airwaves with such poise and flair, that she literally locked down the lions’ share in terms of ardent fans.

    She was so good on the radio so much that local artists at the time just couldn’t get enough of her. The late Kenyan rapper E-Sir even gave her the biggest complements in one of his lines; “Rap bila Esir ni ka radio bila Muthoni Bwika” (rap without E-sir is like radio without Muthoni Bwika).

    She started out at Capital before going on to blow up at Nation FM presenting “Party Up”, an afternoon Hip Hop show that was unrivaled and won many awards. Everywhere she went she promoted local content.

    She has since, however, hung up her microphone and is now reportedly a teacher. 

    Zain Verjee

    Zain Verjee

    It would be hard for most to believe that the globally celebrated Verjee, actually started out as a radio DJ at Capital FM.

    Before going on to conquer the world, the celebrated storyteller was a budding jockey in Nairobi, renowned for her unique song selection.

    She then joined CNN in 2000, which has seen her cover major world events such as the September 11 attacks, the War in Iraq, the War in Afghanistan, the conflict in the Middle East, the trial of former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milošević. 

    Her exceptional gift enabled Verjee to travel the world covering US foreign policy. She also reported on African feature stories for the weekly program "Inside Africa", which offered an in-depth look into the lifestyle on the continent.

    Some key people she has interviewed will make most shudder in astonishment, with the like of Condoleeza Rice, Uhuru Kenyatta, President John Dramani Mahama, Kofi Annan, Tony Blair, Angelina Jolie, and Lenny Kravitz, forming part of her stellar list.

    In November 2014, Zain announced she was leaving CNN after 14 years to create her own media production company. Zain Verjee Group is based in New York and Nairobi with a focus on African businesses and lifestyle stories.