Terry Volkwyn, CEO of Primedia Broadcasting, was today named the 1st for Women Insurance Company Women of the Decade in Media Award, while Anele Mdoda, popular Highveld 94.7 radio presenter, won the Women in The Media’s Rising Star award. Beatrice Kubheka and Peta Thornycroft jointly won the Lifetime Achiever.
Volkwyn scooped the award ahead of finalists Ferial Haffajee, editor of City Press, and Esmare Weideman, CEO of Media24. Said Sandra Gordon, CEO of Wag the Dog Publishers and founder of the event, “Terry has not only significantly enabled the growth of broadcasting in South Africa, but, through her corporate social responsibility initiatives, has inspired a nation to be active citizens. The awards’ purpose is to celebrate women’s outstanding contribution to the economic, social and political landscape primarily through their roles as media industry leaders. All of our finalists fulfilled this criteria, so it was a tough and complex process to name a winner.”
The judging panel – comprised of those on The Media magazine’s editorial board (The Media is published by Wag the Dog) and includes Professor Nixon Kariithi, Barbara Cooke, Clare O’Neil, Gordon Muller, Peta Krost Maunder, Libby Lloyd, Jos Kuper and Dr. Melanie Chait – chose Volkwyn as the media woman of the decade, citing her efficacy in turning around a struggling broadcaster, her astute business and strategic decisions and, her dedication to ensuring that media remains a powerful agent for social and political change.
“I like to think of myself as a rebel, a non-conformist who takes an idea and runs with it. I care about my business but more importantly my people, and try at all times to lead by example,” said Volkwyn upon accepting the award.
Under her leadership, Primedia Broadcasting has this year exceeded the R1-billion turnover mark (this, from R200-million ten years ago), despite mounting challenges for media companies to stay afloat and generate profit.
Said Robyn Farrell, 1st for Woman Insurance’s managing director, “The four radio stations in Primedia’s stable have grown tremendously with Terry at the helm. Her legacy will last a long time, and we are confident that young women will be inspired by her to follow careers in the media.”
Volkwyn joined Talk Radio 702’s sales department in 1986 and has worked her way up to CEO of Primedia Broadcasting.
The awards also acknowledged up-and-coming talent in the media: Highveld 94.7’s Anele Mdoda – one of the only female drivetime presenters in the country – was awarded the Women in The Media’s Rising Star. The 28-year old says that radio is in her veins: she has also worked at TUKS FM (when she was a student at the University of Pretoria), and at 5fm.
“Anele is someone to watch. We can see that the immediacy of the radio and the way it reaches so many people is what she thrives on,” said Peta Krost Maunder, editor of The Media magazine. As she says: “In most jobs you don’t really meet new people often … But in my job I speak to someone new every single day. And it’s not this superficial interaction…You have to listen to them (the audience); you are constantly in conversation with them.”
This year the 1st for Women Lifetime Achiever Award was jointly shared by Beatrice Kubheka and Peta Thornycroft. Kubheka has worked a lifetime across the industry spectrum. After 20 years in advertising, Kubheka moved into media, heading the research department at Independent Newspapers. The Zulu-language daily Isolezwe, launched 10 years ago, was based entirely on what she revealed from focus groups she conducted.
Peta Thornycroft told the audience that “journalism is not my profession, but my life.”
Gordon added: “Peta Thornycroft is the ultimate journalist’s journalist. If you ask more seasoned local journalists about her, they will tell you she is a no-nonsense journalist to her core, she’s fearless and one of the best news and investigative journalists this country has ever seen. Thornycroft has been recognised in the last decade for her work in covering Zimbabwe (the country of her birth). She is known for making sure the news went out of Zimbabwe no matter the cost. She defied laws to make that happen. She literally became a ‘thorn’ in Robert Mugabe’s side and was arrested a few times despite being older.”
Overall, the awards were an apt celebration of the culmination of women’s role in the media over this important decade.