Classic FM loses familiar voices

2011-03-02 10:07
Leané du Plessis
Johannesburg – Three of Classic FM’s presenters have been asked to leave the radio station due to restructuring.

Mike Mills, Tony Blewitt and Thabiso Tema (TT) - three of the station’s most familiar voices were heard for the last time on Classic FM on Monday, said co-owner of the station, Dominic Ntsele.

According to Ntsele, the decision was already made six months ago and thus comes as "no surprise" to the presenters.

"We are giving the station a new format in order to rise to the challenge of involving younger listeners. We listen to what listeners say and adapt accordingly."

'Nothing personal'

Mills has been with the station for 12 years, Blewitt for eight and TT for four. Blewitt’s shows aired from 06:00 to 10:00 and from 19:00 to 20:00. TT was on air from 10:00 to 14:00 and Mills from 14:00 to 18:00.

All three presenters were contract workers.

Classic FM is owned by a consortium which includes Ntsele, the soccer administrator Irvin Khoza as well as the Ingoma trust.  Ntsele reiterated on Tuesday that the decision was "nothing personal".

'Time for a change'

"The three knew what was going to happen for six months. We like them as people, but it’s time for a change. The decision was certainly not taken lightly and it was difficult to say goodbye to them."

A part of Classic FM’s new format is to have more music and less voice. "At some radio stations, the presenter is the most important aspect, however with us it’s the music. People don’t always enjoy it when classical music is interrupted by a voice."

Blewitt told Moneyweb that he is currently negotiating with another company.



  • Dan4 - 2011-03-02 10:38

    Well, I guess I'll leave with them - I particularly enjoyed Thabiso Tema...

  • hylton.tregenza - 2011-03-02 10:40

    I liked the voice. It was always good to hear a little about the piece that you had been hearing. Composers of some really stirring pieces of music would be lost to me if I was not told who composed/played it. A wealth of knowledge about music as been gained (and will now be lost) by not having these people there

  • Duikerkie - 2011-03-02 10:56

    Very sad to hear this! Wrong decision made there!

  • trevb - 2011-03-02 11:02

    5 fm is for younger listeners , these guys knew there stuff , leave things tat arent broken alone !

  • SaligSondaar - 2011-03-02 11:23

    I will miss them, they felt almost like family. Goodbye, Classic FM - from somenone who has been listening from the very first day.

  • Ek - 2011-03-02 11:29

    I'm also leaving Classic FM. I particularly didn't like the CEO's tone during the interview with him last night. I realise that a radio station is a business and should be run like one - that's what they intend. But the impression that I get, is that they're trying too hard to focus on the business side, missing the point of what Classic FM is all about. It's a niche station, catering for a more upmarket audience. Something youngsters can aspire to.

      Nico - 2011-03-02 21:52

      It is very sad. Racism has again raised its ugly head. Goodbye Classic FM

  • Moerdyk - 2011-03-02 11:33

    Lets hope this station doesnt also go down the toilet like 5FM did

  • Rumbler - 2011-03-02 11:36

    Oh well, its time to find the cds again! Mike and Tony were Classic FM for me! As was Julia Burger before she left.

  • semaj - 2011-03-02 11:41

    More ignoramuses announcing names they do not know how to pronounce and playing music they are too culturally dim to understand. In my view it has entered the toilet, and now it is time to flush it off my preselect radio stations. All we need now is praise-singing

      smallwhirled - 2011-03-02 13:03

      Hey SEMAJ, have they announced who their replacements are going to be?

      SaligSondaar - 2011-03-02 13:37

      When Tony first started on Classic FM, it was obvious that he knew very little about classical music - including pronunciation. (I am sure he will admit it himself.) However, it was good to see him diligently working at this and to see his knowledge and enjoyment of the music grow over time. I will certainly miss his dry wit in the mornings.

  • louisjm - 2011-03-02 11:54

    We will surely miss them tremendously on Classic FM, but maybe they can now join the team of LM Radio.

  • louisjm - 2011-03-02 11:56

    We will surely miss them tremendously on Classic FM, but maybe they can now join the team of LM Radio.

  • hungting.teng - 2011-03-02 12:11

    it's a really sad news. If I just want to listen music, I will go to my iPod/CD player instead of switching on the radio. Farewell, and hope we will hear your voice again at other station.

  • Noah 4 - 2011-03-02 12:16

    And as result of this I have stopped listening to Classic FM, these were some of the better presenters. This Deano guy sounds very confused and has anyone noticed that hardly anyone is phoning for Deano's Quiz in the morning. Sad to say, my wife and I were the younger market they were trying to capture, good bye Classic FM.

  • AThought - 2011-03-02 12:16

    Classic FM was my favourite station precisely because of the entertaining company of Tony Blewitt and Mike Mills during otherwise soul-destroying peak traffic periods. If I'd wanted less talk, I would have been playing CDs instead - something I've sadly had to revert back to.

  • captainblackrum - 2011-03-02 12:20

    potential advertisers on C FM take note of the comments below. Also news 24 censorship is pathetic .

  • wmutahi - 2011-03-02 14:08

    It's a pity not to hear their voices anymore. It's always good to hear some background about a piece before or after listening to it. They were great presenters though and I loved their shows.

  • Marius - 2011-03-02 14:12

    I stopped listening to Classic FM when they got rid of Julia Burger - I heard from an insider it was a racist decision from the owners. Classic FM is ignoring their target market and I hope that market will stop supporting them. How about people (who actually LISTEN to classical music) starting their own Classic station.

  • 50something - 2011-03-02 14:16

    This was a move not well thought through. Mike Mills was(is) an icon in the broadcasting arena and he WAS ClassicFM (with apologies to all the other brilliant presenters on CFM). I would like to see the so-called statistics that forced the station to "change". My son (19) often listens to Classic FM when he studies and enjoys it and has never hinted that it should change. Mr Nsele - do you understand your own station and the listner profile? Classical music is liked by more mature, intellectual people (With respect to all the other radio stations. Your reasoning last night was not very convincing and I got the feeling that you made changes for the sake of making changes. Any station with "only" music and no human voice will become boring (Like a talk station without music - equally boring). Take note of what the public is telling you in this forum and don't fabricate your own "statistics".

      Mike - 2011-03-03 09:47

      They will never own up to wrong doings, this bad decision will never bring the DJ's that they struck back, so it is actually a dead end for them.

  • Spade - 2011-03-02 15:21

    I don't think Thabiso Tema and Tony Blewitt were really that good - Thabiso didn't really strike me as being knowledgeable re classical music, and Tony was sometimes very hard to follow. Mike Mills seemed to know his subject matter, and was always entertaining, but I usually only listened in the mornings. I think Julia leaving was a huge mistake. She's incredibly knowledgeable, and classy. Classic FM is on its way out, it would seem...

      lustylucy - 2011-03-03 12:16

      why r u singling out the black guy? it smacks of racism.... just a thought

      Eish! - 2011-03-03 13:01

      lustylucy, you had me in stitches. I always thought Tony Blewitt was a white guy?

  • tracy.venski - 2011-03-02 16:02

    This is their cover-up for "We can't afford the best". I concur - Tony Blewitt and Mike Mills made the station. Now it has no future. Guys! Where are you going? I want to follow!

  • loose_cannon - 2011-03-02 16:39

    Less talk more music was what these 3 guys did, so why get rid of them? In the two days since they were gone, far more jazz was played. Instead of starting a new station, why change this one? Who is missing out? The classic lover, that's me, so good bye to one more listener. But somehow I have seen / heard this before. UJ FM played some classical rock, what do they play now? KFM (Cape) played something entirely different years ago to now. Radio 2000..... Never mind my cd collection will grow and be used more and more

  • Yvonne - 2011-03-02 16:50

    these three presenters will be missed very much, their going has left a big gap a big gap in this station. Things are definitely not as they were

  • dup007 - 2011-03-02 18:27

    ok i am gone too

  • Andre Basson - 2011-03-02 19:58

    There goes the last station worth listening to. Fortunately I have 20days’ (and growing) of my own CD music all stored on iTunes so I don't really need them anyway. The only one that should have been told to leave is still there, hence my tuning in to RSG and SAFM late afternoons, early evenings, since his arrival. A low IQ station deserves low IQ listeners - good luck.

  • Mike - 2011-03-03 09:25

    The decision was a total racist decision, they have got rid of all the presenters that kept the station alive, what do Management know about classical music anyhow, we are now going to be stuck with Jazz and choral music (back to grass roots level again!!!), Bye Classic FM, you have lost another 2 listeners

      Mike - 2011-03-03 13:19

      Well then maybe you will disappear as well

  • BlackHole-MB - 2011-03-04 08:49

    The smart money (Tony's followers on the morning show - Classic FM quiz) clearly have left for the coast already - they are struggling to find anyone who can answer the questions anymore. I am afraid to say that the show is now to embarrassing to listen to, the technical problems and the lack of panache will mean I will change the permanent setting of this radio in the house from 102.7 MHz probably to 106.0 MHz, or, heaven forbid, 94.2 MHz. Mike Mills, if you read this, I will be contacting you with a better suggestion than SA radio to use your entrepreneurial skills on.

  • texbar - 2011-03-09 17:03

    Losing Mike Mills et al are like losing intelligent, warm and terrific friends...what are you thinking, Mr CEO, who came across as particularly uninspiring and spurious. What we liked about these presenters SIR was their chatter inbetween the delightful music. Cheers, Classic FM, it was good to know you.

  • Ina Cripps - 2011-03-11 21:02

    Bad decision Classic FM.! Those three presenters you have fired are precisely why I listened to your station. Without them there, I and my family will switch off. I hope someone starts a new station giving us what we had. How about it, Mike, Tony & TT?

  • Betsie - 2011-03-15 08:10

    betsie Alberton. Was away on holiday in Capetown What a shock .Ihave lost my appetite for classic fm. Hope they will start their own station and show them what they have lost

  • Betsie - 2011-03-15 08:10

    We will miss tony and mike they were the best

  • John - 2011-03-29 12:05

    I don't listen to CFM now. The personalities have gone along with those who knew classical music. I was pleased that one of the announcers (who had neither personality nor knowledge) was booted. Dingane & Masote are OKish. DSTV music channels offer the music w/o the bullshit.

      Roy - 2011-04-03 21:54

      Nothing wrong with Masote, a good understaning of the musical classics, a soothing voice and an accomplished cellist himself. Try the JPO concerts at the Linder Auditorium and Baroque in the Bush. Roy.

  • pitbull - 2011-04-16 07:02

    I miss the old Classic FM and now I find their website has gone down the drain. The current presenters cannot pronounce the names of the music properly as in pas de deux should be pronounce pa da deu. They mispronounce the names of composers. So I guess I will have to webstream from the UK site or even from Australia which has some great musicians but lousy humour. BEE (and its associated racist epithets) will kill this country just like it killed all the rest of Africa. Sorry Classic Fm I will have to wake up to the tring-tring alarm clock instead of the radio.

  • pitbull - 2011-04-16 07:04

    What we need to do is start another classic station in opposition to Classic Fm and run it without this stupid racist BEE garbage!!!!!!!

  • andonina pashalieva - 2011-09-14 13:43

    I love classical music and used to listen Classic FM regularly. Yes, the format of the station has changes. It actually has become boring since Tony, Mike and TT are gone and I don't listen to the station anymore. Sorry, but Dinu is really very boring....

  • Mpolokeng Motloung - 2013-02-28 13:12

    We shouldn't judge even if we loved to hear those guys on the radio but we should understand that a contract is a contract when it was done none of us was there and we do know what is in the contract let us keep on listening to the station and it has to grow

  • Joy Gibson - 2013-06-30 15:14

    I cannot tell you how devastating it was to me and my family when Mike Mills was no longer with us!! It is probably more than a year now and..WE STILL MISS HIM MORE THAN WORDS CAN SAY!!! I cannot believe that there were only 44 responses!! Maybe they did not know we can view our oponions!!! Mike had such a cheerful voice and most refined accent.And Great classical knowledge!! PLEASE can we have him back!!! No offence to any of the present presenters.

  • Peter Brixey - 2014-07-27 23:53

    You need a little voice now and again, if only to let listeners what is playing. IMHO.

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