One of South Africa’s leading radio men, Anthony Duke, lost his battle with cancer on Saturday. He was 70 years old.
Duke co-founded Capital Radio in 1979, and later rewrote the rules in commercial radio when he ran 5FM into a super brand for 11 years. After leaving 5FM, he restarted an ailing Good Hope FM and later formed stations across the country and overseas.
Radio was in his blood, and Duke mentored several successful broadcasters.
Former 5FM sportscaster Sasha Martinengo said: “Anthony was my radio mentor. He lived for radio. He could scare you but he also listened. I expected total commitment but his motto was ‘work hard, play hard’. I’ll never forget it what he taught me. He’s always been a friend. Without Anthony, I wouldn’t have had such a long career.”
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Duke’s unwavering eye for talent and philosophy of giving people opportunities also gave Eyewitness News boss Ray White his first chance at an on-air job.
White said: “Anthony Duke decided to take a chance on me and put me on air on 5fm, launching my career like a rocket.” This also created new friends and radio relationships.
“I was a news presenter on 5fm, and my fondest memory is Ant calling me early one morning saying, ‘You’ve always wanted to do a show, well do the breakfast show this morning’. The presenter is sick. He hung up, I I was terrified, the rest is history.”
Ursula Stapelfeldt, former host of the Fanta World Chart show and host of Top Billing, remembered Duke fondly: “Anthony Duke was radio for many of us privileged enough to work with him. The man knew and loved music. He knew and he loved radio and he was exceptional. Was Ant Duke demanding? Yes, he was. But he was also fair and had a hand in guiding some of radio’s greatest talent. Rock on, The Duke of Radio, and thank you for everything.”
Benjy Mudie, a former label executive, said: “I’ve known Ant for over 40 years, from the early days of Capital Radio. He was not only one of the most important people in radio, unrivaled in the industry, but a dear friend who shared my passion for great music. Our world of entertainment just got a lot smaller.”
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