The talented broadcaster reveals his ‘secrets’ to our Lilongwe Bureau Chief SAMUEL CHUNGA.
The radio commercials he produces are top-notch and listeners usually look forward to more.
When his works hit the airwaves, even children mimic his unique intonation and captivating style.
This much sought-after talent is none other than Gospel Kazako, a ‘young man’ from a humble background who founded the award-winning Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS).
The 49-year-old, father of four is among the finest broadcasters the country has produced. Befittingly, his station has become a serial winner of media awards.
But the ZBS managing director humbly parries away journalists’ eagerness to tell his full story.
“I don’t like publicity,” says Kazako. “As a media practitioner, I would rather put the spotlight on news makers, not my story.”
But humbling feedback to his creative work precipitated a change of heart.
He explains: “I was pleasantly shocked, during my recent visit to South Africa, when someone said my radio commercials and jingles are the best he has ever heard anywhere.
“So inquisitive and enthusiastic was the person that he asked me to put all my commercials and jingles on a disk so he could be listening to the works over and over.”
Commercials featuring his voice attract “a fairly high minimum fee”, he says.
“But the charge is partly set to deter the flood of customers coming my way. These clients often insist that I feature in their advertising,” he explains.
Kazako’s voice has become a turn-key to his success, but he reckons this prized asset was hidden as he grew up “as a little Mang’anja boy” from Chipolopolo Village, Traditional Authority Mlolo in Nsanje.
He is the firstborn in a family of three sons and five daughters. His father, the late Stanley, worked with the disbanded Malawi Young Pioneers (MYP). His mother is Catherine, a renowned potter.
Kazako joined Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC)in 1991 after passing Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) at Henry Henderson Institute (HHI)in Blantyre a year earlier.
During his seven years at MBC, then the only broadcaster in the country, he was well-known as a broadcaster-cum-poet with a golden voice.
He founded ZBS in 2005.
So, what are his ‘secrets’ to success?
He laughs infectiously, saying his upbringing and the rigorous professional standards offered him a chance to travel widely and to interact with people of all walks, including the poor and the rich.
He narrates: “In this way, God gave me an opportunity, as a broadcaster now, to effectively relay the hopes and disappointments of people living in abject poverty. I can also say the same about rich people with whom I have lived or mingled.”
When a customer bombards him with an array of brands or services, he easily answers the most critical ice-breaker: “Who is the end-user I’m targeting in this jingle or commercial?”
This meditation is almost everything when it comes to figuring out the appropriate soundtrack and voice to use in the job.
“It’s like ideas are brewing in the head. If the job gives me more questions than answers, I give up, even if it means returning a customer’s pre-payment,” he elaborates.
At this early stage, he says, he sometimes envisions a great creative work in the offing.
“So exhilarating is the experience then that I have often jumped, shouted with joy and even done a victory dance,” he reveals.
Kazako salutes Lucius Chikuni, Patrick Khoza, Patrick Kamkwatira, Maria Chidzanja-Nkhoma, Benson Tembo, Pastor Towera Masiku and other renowned broadcasters with captivating voices who he engages for special jobs.
He expresses gratitude that most clients have returned to compliment him when sales and the uptake of key messages rise.
Kazako is famed for spicing up civic education and behavioural change campaigns with a heavy dose of humour.
In one of his memorable commercials, he admonishes a none-the-wiser colleague not to just sign medical bills without ascertaining if he really received the services listed on the Medical Aid Society of Malawi (Masm) forms.
In another, he bares the agony of a broke man on the verge of being disgraced for failing to redeem his sick wife who incurs a huge bill at a fee-paying hospital. The worry begets thundering laughs when the patient is ‘liberated’ by his medical scheme.
Kazako freely coaches interested clients who cannot afford his gift of words and effortlessly shares his know-how with competitors.
“Money should not erode our charity,” he says. “When I help others, it’s self-satisfying. I feed myself that way.”
Despite his feats, talent and business acumen, the father-of-four is among top professionals in the country who are playing catch-up in education because training opportunities were limited in their childhood.
In 2013, he obtained a diploma from Malawi Institute of Journalism (MIJ).
Currently, he is studying for a communication and cultural studies degree at Chancellor College, a constituent college of the University of Malawi (Unima) in Zomba.
“Education is an important, on-going process that we need to embrace at any stage and at any age,” he reasons.
“I can now properly relate the media theory with its practice. It’s all eye-opening. And I now hope to do even greater things.”