Primedia CEO, Jonathan Procter has paid tribute to a pioneer and true legend of South African radio, John Berks. Procter tribute to the veteran broadcaster who died on Saturday, June was on behalf of Primedia. Berks died at the age of 80, after a long illness.
According to Proctor, Berks was a key pillar in the growth and development of 702, Primedia and the South African broadcasting industry, in general.
“An iconic radio broadcaster and talk-show host, he helped to shape the evolution and character of radio in South Africa and has left an indelible mark. This is not only on 702 but on the broadcasting industry as a whole,” Proctor said.
He also added, John Berks once said, “Without radio, you have lost a friend”, noting that the veteran broadcaster has left a lasting legacy in the broadcasting industry.
Berks was regarded as the pioneer of talk radio in South Africa. His passion for and dedication was celebrated when in 2010 he was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
702 Station Manager, Mzo Jojwana said the station has been touched by the outpouring of sympathy and messages it has received from its listeners, colleagues and the public in general.
“Paying tribute to Berks, on 702’s Soulful Sunday Paul Mtirara spoke of him as an ‘institution of radio’. He has inspired countless radio hosts, not only at a Primedia but across the industry,” Jojwana said.
According to the station, Berks was known for his music knowledge, “one of a kind” sense of humor and prank calls. The popular talk show host also got South Africans talking about critical social and political issues. During his time at 702, he interviewed significant political figures including Walter Sisulu and Chris Hani.
His radio career, which spanned four decades, began at LM Radio in Mozambique in the 1960s. He also worked for Swazi Music Radio, Springbok Radio, Capital Radio 604 Transkei, and Radio 5. He joined 702 in 1981.