Posted on December 8, 2014
So the first time I saw Wanjira Longauer was sometime in May this year. Out of my love for radio, I decided to be part of this year’s Capital Fm’s presenter search dubbed the Capital one. Luckily enough I got to the final 6 contestants..and this bunch of 6 cool humans had the privilege of going to the studios and co-host with Capital Fm presenters for a week. Together with my good friend Simon, we were assigned the morning show, Capital in the morning with Renee and Maqbul…and for an entire week, I had to wake up at odd hours to make it to the studio by 5:30 am in the morning! (I’m not a morning person so you can imagine how a struggle it was waking up!) So one day after the morning show was over (which promptly ends at 10)…I saw Taylor come in the studio…and closely behind him was this drop-dead gorgeous lass, miss Wanjira, who quite literally made me go something like “Daamn! She fine! Who is she?” (Of course I didn’t say that out loud) Initially I thought she was a radio producer of sorts..working behind the scenes for the rock show, the fuse. Much later I came to learn that she was on training to be the new co-host for Taylor on the popular rock show. So after the whole presenter search thing was over..I decided to ask Wanjira and Taylor if they would like to share their stories on this blog..and their response was on the affirmative. I’m curious as you are to know more about miss Longauer…so lets dive in together and find out more…shall we? Okay go!
*So Wanjira, tell us a little about yourself. You are actually a mixed breed of a Slovakian and a Kenyan? Kindly narrate the love story of how your parents met. Any siblings?
Nazdar! Wi mwega? (First part: “Hello!” in Slovak. Second part: “How are you?” in Gĩkũyũ.) Indeed I’m half Slovak and half Kenyan. Seeing as I’m neither a dog nor a cat, I find the term “mixed-breed” archaic and odd. I’m biracial. I’m the only child between my mother and father. My mother was born and raised here, in Kenya, and my father was born and raised in what is now Slovakia, but was then known as Czechoslovakia. My parents met in the late ‘80s at Columbia University, their alma mater. They didn’t stay together, but it made experience growing up that much richer. I have three fabulous folks who raised me: my mother, father and stepfather. They always made sure I was constantly learning, creating, and well-behaved. My biological parents are creatives, my mother being an English professor, lecturer and published author, and my father being a successful filmmaker and animator, so they always intensely exposed me to the art world. If I wasn’t being marched off to a museum or acting class, then I had some book being shoved in my face. Although my stepfather isn’t a creative by profession, he’s still crazy into music, which is one of our shared loves! He taught me a lot about jazz and some of my fondest memories from childhood are when I’d dance all over the living room to his incredible vinyl collection as a kid. Each of them always supported my performing arts endeavors, hence why I am where I am today.
*What an intro! Very interesting! Okay, so how has it been living in New York for the most part of your life? Is it as glamorous as we have been made to see through the eyes of media?
Hahaha! Uh oh – you got me! Where to begin? New York City is truly magical. Having been born and bred there, I’ll rep it till the day I die! I loved living there for many a reason, and yes, there are the very glamorous bits, like going to catch a show at The Met, or on Broadway (by the way, if you’re ever there: On and Off- Broadway shows are usually gems too, and they’re way less expensive!), or spending a day at The Frick – and don’t get me started on that nightlife! Still, life ain’t Sex and the City and fabulous this and that all the time. Still, NYC has got a certain sparkle to it. Though there are rough and tumble parts like any city, many people are available to partake in an array of activities like roller skating in Central Park…catching a movie on the Upper West Side or LES or Midtown…walking along the Hudson River…or dining in one of Harlem’s many old or new delicious restaurants. It’s a uniquely city, with its own twinkle, its own heartbeat. Much like moi, it marches to the beat of its own drum.
*So what prompted you to make the BIG move to come back to Kenya? Are you here for good? And how is life adjusting to Nairobi life?
I like that emphasis on “BIG.” You’d almost think I moved to outer space! Kenya is what prompted me to move back to Kenya: her varying and vast characters, cultures, and landscapes. In fact, I’ve seen three different administrations since my first visit over two decades ago. I love the good ole 254 and couldn’t get enough of beloved Kenya just by visiting from time to time, or even once a year. Moreover, I love a challenge. Give me a situation which involves potential gain, some risk, a change of pace and trying out something new – I’m there. Of course, it’s been a major difference to move here with long-term goals versus coming to visit for my standard three months.That said, I’m here for the long haul! I haven’t really found that I need to adjust so much or drastically, because I moved from one major international city to another, and the largest city in East Africa, no less. Alas, I find I have to adjust to simple little things. One thing, for example, that takes getting used to is the really slow, usually poor customer service, (almost), regardless of where you’re dining or what office you’re in. That grinds my gears.
Point blank: I well knew what I was getting into when I packed my bags and bought that one-way ticket. In my heart, I knew I’d be happy living here, despite certain drawbacks – no matter how big or small. Besides, I mean, “when in Rome,” right? Learning to comfortably adapt to different situations is an important trait that eases your ride in this lifetime.
*You are right, you’ll have to do as the Romans do! Okay, lets turn to your passion for radio. At what point in your life did you discover that you wanted to do radio? And how exactly did you get to Capital? Is this your first radio gig?
I discovered my passion for radio and even begun to entertain (pun intended) the idea of starting a career in it while studying the craft post earning my bachelor’s degree. My degree is in film, but I went on to study the ins and outs of radio and television soon after…and received a certification in radio and television journalism by fall 2013. I wanted to arm myself with as much knowledge and skill as possible, making me a more versatile asset in the world of media. When I was introduced into the world of Capital Fm through a set of serendipitous circumstances, that’s when I realized I had to be up in the mix. It’s fun, it’s fast, it’s improvisational, it’s work, it’s challenging! What’s more, as my first radio gig, it’s all I envisioned and then some. I love waking up in the morning and readying for four hours of pure, unabashed dopeness! My co-hosts are the bomb, my colleagues are fun and friendly, my bosses are cool, and the fans are darlings.
*How does it feel getting to co-host the fuse alongside Taylor and Dr. DJ CK which has been renowned to have a huge following of rock fans all over Kenya?
Co-hosting The Fuse with Taylor and Dr. DJ CK is a wild ride! My co-hosts are fun-loving rockheads who know how to make the #FuseNavy happy campers.
*In few words, tell us us something about Taylor and Dr. DJ CK that you think we do not know about.
We’re all very genuine. What you see is what you get, and we’re not about to sugar coat it for each other or you.
*What are some of the challenges that come with having this job and how do you face them?
Sometimes things move really quickly – a lot quicker than you anticipated – and there is so much going on during the show, so you have to be quick on your feet and keep your wits about you. The worse thing to do is stress. In that case, you’re only more likely to unravel and not perform at your best.
*What should die hards of the fuse expect from you and Taylor in the coming days and hopefully years ahead of co-hosting the show?
Any Fuser is diehard! Expect that Taylor, Dr. DJ CK and I will continue to rock them out for as long as this trio is going. We’re taking no prisoners and posting no boundaries. We’ve arrived, so strap yourself in and get ready for this ride…
*Name for me other on air personalities you admire, both local and beyond our borders.
Locally, I enjoy watching Anne Kiguta. She’s a diligent interviewer and I appreciate her overall reporting style. Plus, it’s admirable that she’s a young woman who’s already making big strides in her career. Abroad, I like Bill Maher. He keeps it one-hundred. That is to say that he “keeps it real.” He doesn’t hold his tongue on any issue, no matter how controversial. Plus, as a comedian and political commentator, he’s able to use humor to bring more serious matters into discussion; he’s a very cerebral funny-guy. Moreover, he’s a colorful character. I love those.
*Now, apart from radio, is there anything else of interest that you would love to pursue or maybe are already pursuing?
I endeavor to get in front of and behind the camera. I love acting and have been at it for a long time! I want to produce and direct, but don’t ask me whether film or television just yet. I’ve already divulged too much to you today, Kabue! And there’s still more to come…
*You can bet I’m watching out for more! So lets switch to something else. Now, the world over is increasingly becoming aware of Africa’s potential to be the next frontier to do business and many other exciting opportunities. What are your thoughts on this especially with reference to many Kenyans seeking for opportunities abroad?
I couldn’t agree more: the world is finally opening its eyes and recognizing Africa and her unprecedented potential force. This is amazing for so many, dare I say, obvious reasons. It can be seen that business is steadily and fast picking up in many countries across the massive continent! Yet, because life often is not black or white, there are complications which come with this scramble. I’m for people finding opportunity wherever they may. Ultimately, I firmly believe you must pursue what makes you happy, so long as you are not harming yourself or others. In fact, I’m finding a lot of young Kenyans at home and in the Diaspora are cultivating their skills abroad before employing their talents back here. This is important. In this regard, it’s fine if there are some exports, but it’s good to have more imports. If Kenyans are going to go to other countries for schooling, or even living, then that’s fine. It’s important, though, for these people to somehow give back home. They don’t have to move back here if they don’t want to, but, especially if he or she becomes successful, whether in medicine or media or entrepreneurship, that individual should take it upon his or herself to give back to the community.
*As we close, who are some of the people who greatly inspire you and why?
Any story about someone persevering against all odds is a story which and person who greatly inspire me.
*Parting shots? You can share with us a Wanjira-life-Philosophy that you live by.
-This isn’t a dress rehearsal
-Do unto others as you’d want them to do unto you
-“YOLO” is “Carpe Diem” for idiots
-Humble yourself, always!
-Balance is necessary to live happily (think Yin-Yang)
-Take risks, bend rules sometimes
*Are you single? And what type of guy makes you tick? Ahem!
I just cracked up reading “ahem”! What I can tell you is that I’m attracted to intelligence, kindness, sincerity, ambition, wit, and success. I’m playful and love to laugh, so you have to be able to make me laugh! No worries, I’ll reciprocate.
*What are you reading? Any all time favourite read you would love to recommend?
My nose is currently shoved into By Any Means Necessary by Malcolm X. I typically read non-fiction, history, and Gonzo journalism. Some reads best etched in my mind are Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Gangs of New York, Papillon, and a really fascinating book called The Fatal Impact: An Account of the Invasion of the South Pacific, 1767–1840, which chronicles Captain James Cook’s exploration of the South Pacific. I also love my massive collection of Edgar Allen Poe, but unfortunately it’s not here with me and I’ll need to seek a replacement for it soon.
Johnny Depp, niaje baby?
*What’s your way of unwinding after a long day?
Listening to music, introspection, Instagram, obsessively researching something for entirely too long on the interwebs, blog browsing…
*What’s the most ignorant thing about Africa have you heard out there?
Most? This is the hardest question on the roster, just so you know. Most?!?!
“You’re mom is from Africa, right? So, like, did she grow up super poor?”
“Did they live in a house?”
“Does she speak [starts clucking tongue]?”
*Most embarrassing moment?
One summer in college, I was frolicking in the pool. I decided it’d be a good idea to get out and jump back in, and when I did, my top came halfway off, partially exposing me. Oh, and my dad saw it all go down – front and center.
Hope you have enjoyed the read as much as I have. Like Wanjira has so well said, there’s so much to look forward from her as she deepens her roots in Nairobi’s fast life. Meanwhile, she is always goofing on radio every weekday from 10am to 2pm on Capital Fm with her radio huzband, Taylor Kiman a.k.a Mizter Murathe so tune in and I promise you will have tons of fun! And by the way, if you haven’t read what Taylor had to say about his own life, you can check out his interview here
Like I mentioned during Taylor’s interview, this was the second time working with my very good friend, Photographer and Art Director-Jude Xavier Gichumbi, who did exceedingly well with this shoot. It was an overwhelming afternoon of nothing but Jude contorting himself to get the best angles…but alas…the outcome was well worth it! Check out what Jude has been up to by clicking this link: www.500px.com/JudeXavierG
And finally, I have got nothing but immense love for Suzie Wokabi who was our official make up artiste for this project. She’s been dolling up people’s faces for the past 12 years…and its no wonder why she has her own beauty brand, Suzie Beauty Ltd, which is truly a force to reckon with, here in Kenya and soon enough, the rest of Africa as well. For more on Suzie Beauty make up products, click here: www.suziebeauty.com
Have a fabulous week ahead and remember, “YOLO” is “Carpe Diem” for idiots! My work here is done! Cheers!