I was surprised to see Talk Radio 702 morning presenter John Robbie named the week’s “Mampara” by the Sunday Times in its big exclusive Manto edition on Sunday. At first I was amused, then perplexed as I read through it.
We could laugh it off and one could dismiss the Mampara Award as nothing but light humour and satire, but it is taken seriously by many. I can think of a hundred more deserving people who the Mampara award could go to before John Robbie. In fact, I don’t think he is Mampara material at all. Previous winners of the award include thieves, murderers, racists and despots. Zimbabwe’s despotic President Robert Mugabe is a regular Mampara. So it’s not hard to see that Robbie seems very out of place here.
In his morning show the next day on Monday, Robbie didn’t take a swipe at the Sunday Times. He admitted the label was “hurtful” and that he was “a bit down” as a result of his new award. While admitting that as a high-profile radio presenter he was fair game, he felt this particular Mampara writ had a “personal” edge to it.
I have to agree with Robbie. Also, much of what was said was just simply not accurate, including the descriptions that he is “one of the dullest windbags ever to mug the airwaves” and “tired and unimaginative”. Call Robbie many things, but I doubt anyone — even his detractors — would describe him as “dull” or “unimaginative”. In fact, Robbie is often criticised for getting a little too passionate and hot-headed at times.
I had listened to his show the previous week where he had criticised the Sunday Times — and I also disagreed with Robbie’s statements. I felt the Sunday Times‘ story was newsworthy because it involved a public official in high office, but agreed with Robbie in that those were good questions to ask and debate. From a Sunday Times point of view, it was worth contesting, but hardly worth branding Robbie a Mampara.
It misses the mark for me.