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Title [Interview] Matt Pheonix, Africa’s First K-pop Radio Show Host
No Inquiry 383 Date 2018.06.28

Cape Town, capital of Western Cape province, is South Africa’s legislative capital and a popular tourist destination. Facing the ocean and surrounded by mountains, the city is known for its mild climate and beautiful natural environment that offers many activities for tourists. Most of South Africa’s wineries are located in Western Cape. Cape Town has the second largest Korean population in South Africa, after Johannesburg, and is home to the University of Cape Town (UCT), the country’s oldest institute of higher education. The city is no exception in the proliferation of K-pop. UCT Radio has even launched a K-pop channel, which is highly popular. Below is an interview with Matt Phoenix, host on the university radio’s K-pop channel #EastMattWest.


Matt on air (Source: Matt Phoenix)


Could you introduce yourself?

Hi, I am Matt Phoenix of UCT Radio. I live in the beautiful city of Cape Town, where I was born. I am currently a university student and host of the first K-pop music channel in Africa, #EastMattWest. Our show runs live every Sunday from 9 p.m. through midnight.


Could you tell us about the K-pop channel on UCT Radio?

Ever since I sat for an interview for UCT Radio in 2014, I worked hard for four years. We finally saw something happening after inviting UCT Radio’s station manager Natalie Brandreth as a jury member in a K-pop dance contest held on Korean Culture Day in Cape Town in December 2017. On that day, Natalie saw the amount of support K-pop and Korean culture were getting, and after the summer break, gave me the opportunity to host a 9 o’clock music specialist show on the radio. The 9 o’clock show at the time played music of special genres and was broadcast only when we had enough listeners. The purpose of our show is to bring the K-pop community in South Africa together to celebrate our efforts for Hallyu here. We’re also planning to add educational elements on Korean culture, language and lifestyle.


How does the radio channel prepare its K-pop playlist?
Only five or six K-pop groups were known in South Africa so far. Having listened to K-pop since 2007, I know that there are many more K-pop songs and groups, so I try to include in the playlist groups that South Africans are not familiar with. And because I know some Korean slang, I try not to select songs that have swearwords. I always try to add songs that our audience requests on Twitter.


Please tell us about the response from your audience.
The very good thing about UCT Radio is that it also provides a streaming service through its website, allowing its shows to be heard anywhere. I want to be modest, but #EastMattWest is growing with the support from our fans. While other channels were got 207 listeners, our channel was had 4,670 listeners. We receive song requests and messages of thanks from our listeners, communicate with them on certain topics through social media, and get free advertisements from other South African show hosts, and we’re very proud of it.


Please tell us about some of the most impressive guests on you show.
Our show has introduced the Korean Association of Students at UCT, as well as various events heldby the Korean community here, and we have invited experts who teach K-pop to give an open class in the show. Most recently, we had Mr. Clifford Smith, president of a company named Gold Key Education/Teach Korea, on the show to offer advice on South Africans who wish to go to Korea to teach English. We plan to have Four Finger, a K-pop club DJ, DJ’ing on our show.


How would you describe Hallyu in Cape Town?
As a South African, I like to compare Hallyu in Cape Town to a volcano eruption. Pretoria has a large Korean community, but Cape Town has always had more Chinese and very few Koreans. But this has changed, with more Koreans coming to live in Cape Town, and more Korean students hanging out with South Africans outside the campus. A lot of cultural exchanges are taking place between the young generations of Korea and South Africa. My favorite food is bibimbap, favorite musician is Girls’ Generation, and favorite hairstyle is the bowl cut (which is popular in Korea).


Anything you would like to add to this interview?
If you are Korean and reading this, come to Cape Town. This city has beautiful people, the ocean, mountains, lifestyle and nightlife!







Son Bo-young (Correspondent of KOFICE in South Africa)