News reporter “It’s Mandy Wiener”
As a teenager, Deshnee Subramany listened to the radio while going on car rides with her father. In her essay, she describes how an encounter with a radio journalist influenced her life and the relationship with her dad.During a large part of my teenage years, I listened to 702 in my father’s car. It’s a commercial talk station that I felt laden with since I discovered music preferences.
They had a news reporter, Mandy Wiener, who was at the scenes of high-profile crimes and had intriguing interviews with the programmes’ hosts. I focused when I heard her on the radio because my father thought what she said was important.
What intrigued us the most was her name. It made us laugh. It was childish and one of the very few times when my father communicated with me. Every time Mandy said her name, I would look at him hoping he would acknowledge our secret. And me. He stopped remembering me too soon.
702 became a powerful connection to him and reinforced my co-opted passion for politics. Co-opted from my father - I liked kwaito and Boys of London jeans but felt I had to have “more important” preferences. He was a serious person, my father. The pressure to be informed consumed me.
During one of the days in my first year at the University of Johannesburg, sitting at the front of the class cold and without a friend nor insulation options, something magical happened.
There was a whisper between the class assistant and lecturer about the woman standing right in front of me.
“It’s Mandy Wiener.” I held my breath when she frowned in my direction (guess what, dad!).
Years later, Mandy and I worked together (“guess what, dad!”) and I transcribed quotes for her book about Brett Kebble (“guess what, dad!), whose peculiar death revealed corruption of the literal highest order in South Africa. She warned me not to tell anyone about what I was transcribing, “not even your daddy”.
I recently chose a life outside of the news.
“Guess what, dad?”
“But how will you know what’s happening in the world?”
We drive to the shops in the middle of a Wednesday, only possible because of my new decisions. On the radio is Mandy Wiener hosting the Midday Report. We’re listening to her on my car radio, without me asking my daddy’s opinion.