Radio personality driven by women empowerment plans to be voice of the youth

Durban — Driven by women empowerment, radio personality Thandi Mhlongo – also known as Zisto – said she had been empowered by women her entire life. She plans on empowering women of all kinds, believing that women can conquer the world if they hold hands.

The Gagasi FM radio presenter recalls listening to the radio every day, watching the news and just being curious about the world around her.

She said the women who inspired her were Noxolo Grootboom and Felicia Mabuza Suttle because of the way they were so poised, articulate, and informative.

She said that besides these phenomenal women, her mother had also inspired her in every way.

“My mother has definitely been my biggest inspiration, from watching her work diligently at her job of being a nurse and taking care of us all. I knew I always wanted to make her proud,” she said.

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Growing up in Clermont and being the middle child, Mhlongo said she has always liked attention and was always vocal, and that was one of the reasons she got into radio.

“I always wanted to either be a broadway star or a news anchor. I pursued radio because I was always the talkative child in class, always had an opinion and I was pretty smart, if I do say so myself. I listened to the radio from an early age and was curious about the medium,” said Mhlongo.

She highlighted that there were some challenges when working in the media industry, especially as a woman.

“The radio space is still very much male-dominated, and sometimes you just don’t get taken seriously because you’re an attractive woman,” she said.

However, she said she would not trade the industry for anything, and wished she had started sooner.

Gagasi FM’s Thandi “Zisto” Mhlongo. Picture: Supplied
Mhlongo plans on doing more philanthropy work under her NGO, Purple Reign Campaign, which works on empowering the youth, especially young women. She plans to be the voice of the youth. She said she had made a lot of mistakes while growing up and did not want to see any young person going the same route.

Her organisation works on making the dreams of the youth come true.

“I find funding for kids in the arts when they cross barriers internationally in a competition. That’s why I went to Kenya last year. It is still a work in progress though,” she said.

She said she also wanted to grow her brand outside Durban and South Africa and to further her studies. Her future plans involve starting a podcast, interviewing extraordinary women who are changing the world.

She said she was working hard to inspire her 14-year-old daughter, and wanted to provide the inspiration her mother gave her.

“I hope all of this will inspire my daughter to do her best as well, because I’m a firm believer that you create the life you want,” she said.

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