T5 with Cynthia Mwangi

Photo credit: Pool

What you need to know:

  • I also work with the sales and marketing team to develop marketing and promotional strategies to attract listeners and increase ratings.

  • In addition to managing the day-to-day operations of the radio station, I also work to ensure that the station is in compliance with all relevant laws and regulations and that it reflects the values and interests of the community it serves.

Cynthia Mwangi is a Station Manager at Hot 96, and is the Voice Over Artist and host of Behind the Mic on Citizen Digital. She also runs a communications and PR firm called Cyn Communications, all the while making time to amplify the stories of young people and being a justice, education, and health ambassador.

1.  14 years in this field? How did that start? Who saw you or gave you your first big break?
Reading this makes everything seem surreal. 14 years?

My dream was to attend Berklee College of Music. That, however, was put on hold. The music industry was not as advanced 14 years ago as it is now, so I ended up attending what is now known as Multimedia University, and after a year, I joined Royal Media Services for what was supposed to be a six-month industrial placement. Fourteen years later, I am the station manager at the radio station I used to listen to back in college. For my first big break, that would have to be Fred Afune. He is the Radio and Technical Services Director. Most radio hosts who have been or are currently employed with Royal Media Services will admit that Fred Afune was instrumental in several of their big breaks. And I give him credit for mine.

2. What is a station manager? What do you study to qualify to be one? Do you have to be a producer first? And who gets to pick the music?
Very good questions. A radio station manager’s role is to oversee the operation of the radio station and ensure that it runs smoothly and efficiently. This includes managing budgets, creating programming schedules, overseeing the selection and production of content, and working with advertisers and sponsors to generate revenue. As a manager, I am responsible for hiring and supervising on-air talent. I also work with the sales and marketing team to develop marketing and promotional strategies to attract listeners and increase ratings. In addition to managing the day-to-day operations of the radio station, I also work to ensure that the station is in compliance with all relevant laws and regulations and that it reflects the values and interests of the community it serves. Overall, the role of a radio station manager involves a combination of leadership, management, and creative skills, as well as an understanding of the unique challenges and opportunities of the radio industry.

A background in Media and Communications is important. But like all careers in the creative industry, an ear for good sound, an eye for good talent, and a gut feeling will carry you further. No, you don’t have to be a producer first. However, producers have a 360-degree view of the brand. That’s where everything converges. Marketing, scheduling, on-air talent, news and commercials. It is the heart of radio.

The music is a joint effort. We consider a variety of factors, including the preferences of our target audience, the current trends in the music industry, and the overall balance of genres and artists that we feature. We also consider the performance of specific songs or artists on the radio station, as well as feedback from listeners. To determine the music that we play, we may use a variety of tools, including music research and data analysis, focus groups, and input from on-air talent and music industry professionals. We also work closely with record labels and music promoters to stay informed about new releases and emerging artists.

3. What quality do you think is essential . with voice artistry? Versatility or consistency? How does one manage the quality of their voice? 
They go hand in hand. Versatility allows a voice artist to adapt to different styles, tones, and pitches of delivery. Consistency ensures that the voice artist can consistently deliver high-quality performances, which is important in maintaining the trust and loyalty of our audience. Together, these qualities enable the voice artist to effectively communicate the desired mood or emotion of a song or performance and provide an engaging listening experience.

As for managing the quality of your voice, it is important to take care of your vocal health. This includes getting enough rest, staying hydrated, and avoiding habits that can harm your vocal cords, such as smoking or drinking alcohol excessively. It is also a good idea to warm up your voice. You’ll hear a lot of those who’ve done voice classes make use of rhymes like How Now Brown Cow. Professional hosts often follow a vocal warm-up routine before, to prepare their voices. They may also work with a vocal coach or a speech therapist to maintain the health and quality of their voice.

In addition to taking care of your vocal health, it’s also important to continue developing your vocal skills through regular practice and training. This can involve working with a vocal coach to improve your pitch, tone, and range, as well as learning new techniques and styles.

4. Why is it that so many creative industries do not have an easily accessible list to compare and contrast what they should be earning versus what companies decide to pay them? 
There are a few reasons. For starters, creative industries are often characterised by a high degree of variability and subjectivity. This can make it difficult to determine a standard rate or salary for a particular role or project. Additionally, the value of a creative professional’s work may depend on factors such as their level of experience, the demand for their skills, and the specific requirements of the project.

Second, the creative industries are often comprised of small businesses or independent agencies rather than large corporations with standardised pay scales. This means that pay can vary widely from one agency or project to another. We can’t of course ignore the fact that there may be a lack of transparency around pay in the creative industries, which can make it difficult for professionals to determine what they should be earning. This could be due to a variety of factors, such as the use of non-disclosure agreements, a lack of communication about pay within companies, or a reluctance to disclose pay information.

5. As a justice, education, and health ambassador, what do you think is the way forward in terms of economic empowerment and justice for the youth of Kenya?
There are many ways that the youth of Kenya can work towards economic empowerment and justice. Some potential strategies include: Education and training. Acquiring the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in the job market is key to economic empowerment. This can involve pursuing higher education, vocational training, or entrepreneurship programmes. 
Access to credit and financial services is also key.

Youth may face barriers to accessing credit and financial services, which can limit their ability to start businesses or invest in their education. Programmes that aim to increase access to credit and financial services for youth could be beneficial. The other strategies are entrepreneurship and small business development, and advocacy and policy change. It is important to note that addressing economic empowerment and justice for the youth will likely require a combination of these strategies.


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