NAME: Leah Jasmine Thandeka Reed
SOCIAL LINKS: @leahjazzlive
SLOGAN/MANTRA: Has anyone seen my glasses?
THE SPOKEN WORD
Perpetual by design & a mogul of the airwaves who is fairly fresh but almost nostalgic. “We are who we are” and who better to be the voice of reason, in all the noise, than Leah Jazz. A truly unique voice by our standards and a mind equivalent to the vision board any “Qween” would be proud of. With this lovely soul taking over 5FM every Monday to Thursday nights, we are ecstatic to have a chance to catch up with her for a little bit of insight.
1) Describe yourself in 3 words?
Leah: Brave. Sharp. Truthful. Insolent.
2) Talk to us about your journey: How did you end up in radio? What steps did you take to get there?
Leah: Do you want the short version or the full story? I started stand-up comedy during the peak of a depressive period at the beginning of 2017. Basically, my life had fallen apart and I started using comedy as a form of therapy. I was living in a tiny granny flat with this musician in Pinetown (who had told me it was in Westville – a LIE). He took the couch and I had the bedroom – the door of which didn’t close. I’d come home and find him filming himself playing guitar, in his underwear.
Leah: I went with him to an interview at ECR and met Msizi James when he was still there and kind of mentioned to him that I liked the idea of getting into radio. Msizi was immediately like “awesome, do it!” and then nothing happened because I didn’t know how. I started sub-editing Durban Is Yours with Bob Perfect who was doing the drive show on DYR at the time.
Leah: We bought some microphones together and I dropped them off at the studio one day and met Kevin Minter-Brown, who was programme manager at the time. Bob mentioned that I was interested in radio to Kevin, who called me up the next day and asked if I wanted to be his content producer. I didn’t know what that meant but I knew it was an in so I said yes and started the next day. After about 2 weeks of listening to someone else tell my jokes on air I begged Kevin to let me co-host the show with him.
Leah: After 6 months on the breakfast show I entered this talent search 5FM was running called the 5Squad. 5 of us from different cities had one show a week co-hosting with Zanele Potelwa, who does the lunch show now on 5. Monday morning 1-4am was my first paid radio gig. A year later I got my first solo show, 4-7am on Saturdays and Sundays. A year of pre-recording shows and working from home because of the pandemic was really challenging, but I was rewarded with the show I have now. It was the one I really wanted – love late night radio. I get to be myself and run a show that I think really matters.
Leah: I was never formally trained, but I followed my intuition, took chances, asked for what I wanted and it’s paid off. I’m working hard now, but it’s so rewarding. My cup is full.
3) You have such an amazing presence and it fits into being able to influence such a large audience. What message do you feel you are most passionate about bringing to the forefront?
Leah: Haha, do I? Thanks for saying that. For me I think my message is be honest with yourself and others, ask for consent, respect each other, and experience as much pleasure as you can while you’re alive. And that women don’t owe you shit.
4) Who would you say is your biggest inspiration (in any capacity)?
Leah: Probably RuPaul Charles. When my depression was peaking I watched a LOT of RuPaul’s Drag Race and their emphasis on self-love and confidence quite honestly dragged me through the sludge and lifted the bell jar a little.
Leah: They remind me regularly that not only is it okay that I am who I am, but that loving myself and believing in who I am is essential. It sounds ridiculous but that show probably saved my life.
5) The best piece of advice you can give to those who want to be inspired and are just so new to the industry?
Leah: Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want.