Jo Lumka (25), now a regular voice on the online digital radio station, The Eye, can pretty much be the poster child that certain things in life cannot simply be explained away as coincidence or perhaps even just being at the “right place at the right time,” Instead, Jo’s life story testifies that fate and a predestined future has to be part of a master plan – especially if you take a look at the way she was discovered by radio legend and founder of The Eye, Jon Savage, when she was asked to join the radio portal with an almost “anything goes” cheeky attitude and reputation.
As Jo explains: “Jon is a very peculiar man; an enigma if you will. As the story goes, I was doing my first year at Rhodes University when he was in Grahamstown on business. He was listening to the on-campus radio station called RMR while I was on air – recording 8 minutes of the show on his phone before I finally said my name. Believe it or not, but he kept that recording for over 6 years! Then during 2016, he reached out to me via Facebook at a time that I was already hired by a community radio station called West Side FM and I must have given him my number. Another bizarre factor of this story is that to this day I cannot recall chatting to him on social media, nor can I find our conversation on Facebook.
“God certainly sprinkles blessings when you least expect them and most certainly in times of complete hopelessness. Nonetheless, in April right after my birthday, he reached out again, asking if I had if I had a current occupation. A month later I met with him as a leap of faith. He pitched his digital station to me, bought me hot chocolate and I was sold! It almost felt too good to be true, but after meeting him I was 100% in.”So why was Jon Savage so impressed with her? Jo recalls: “Well, the first thing he asked me about was my accent, a question I often get asked and never get tired of. I just responded that ‘truthfully, it’s just an accent and we all have some kind of accent, and this is just what mine sounds like’. Nonetheless, I tend to exude a thrilling energy that some describe as electrifying. I sound the way I look. I think Jon could feel that a mile away and that he appreciated that I am me and not pretending to be anything else but that. He likes the authenticity, I believe, and wants all our listeners to experience it as well. Well, that’s what I believe attracted him, although he might have a very different story to tell.”
Jo therefore agrees that after all that happened, it could not possibly be a mere coincidence. “A coincidence is guessing heads or tails, flipping a coin in the air and hoping your guess is correct when the coin lands. What happened to me is fate. The Universe meant for this to happen. At the moment where I felt I was a ‘has-been’ or a ‘once was’ Jon arrived on my path. God works while we pray and work as hard as we can, getting up time and time again if we fall. Jon and were destined to meet, with him sharing the good news with me and in the same light, making his own dreams come true in the process too, by getting the voices and personalities on The Eye that he wanted.”
On The Eye, Jo Lumka’s show is called “Ampd Live”, created by Jon Savage and brought to life by Old Mutual. “I call it a portal on digital radio to uplift emerging artists to have a platform to bring their music to light. At the core of it, it’s about financial education for artists and those interested in the music business, including how to sustain a livelihood without losing your creative niche. In addition to this, also what it means to be independent as an artist and how to enjoy that journey without financial insecurities and how to have long, lustrous career. That means that every Wednesday from 2pm to 4pm I go live on www.theeye.tv with guns blazing – copious amounts of research, live interviews and live performances,” says Jo enthusiastically.
From The West Rand to Grahamstown and back to Johannesburg
Jo Lumka was born (1 April 1994) in a township of the West Rand called Kagio 2 – the only child to a single mom, which Jo calls “the most beautiful woman in the world; brave and resilient”. Her mom actually named her Siphokazi Shanice Lumkile, which she trusts will have the title of Dr or Prof in front of it in the not so distant future. The name “Jo” came from her peers in high school, which was eventually picked up by everyone. “The ‘Lumka’ bit is literally just short for my surname Essentially you combine the two and a stellar product, Jo Lumka, emerges. And the fantastic story behind my name emerges,” she explains.
It was in the West Rand where Jo was born that she lived for the first 10 years of her life, followed by boarding school and eventually attending university in Grahamstown.
Says Jo: “I studied at Rhodes University – the coolest university in the world according to me. I embarked on this path to higher education immediately after matriculating. My tertiary eduction included Anthropological studies, Journalism & Media studies, and well as Art. Humanity needs anthropology because history tells us ‘when’,inaccurate at times, while anthropology tells us ‘how’, which is just an incredible wonder.”
Jo’s radio dream was ignited when she went on a college tour, which included a journey to the The University of Cape Town. Towards the end of the trip they had a talent show where Jo beatboxed, presented poetry and did more in a one woman act. Together with one of her peers, she came first in the competition. “After the show one of our councillors came up to me and said that perhaps I should consider radio as a career as I had the voice for it. Later in the same year I went to a One Day Experience at 5FM. I remember slipping on the headsets, adjusting the mic and placing my hand on the faders. It felt like was I was being reintroduced to myself. I loved the feeling of the studio, liked the concept of radio and found my rhythm…and so the dream was finally realised,” Jo recalls.
After graduating at Rhodes University, Jo made her way back to Johannesburg again to be with her mom as school had separated them from many years. “In the same light it was beneficial, as education adds value in your world. You may know just a little bit more than the average person. It minimises ignorance and sets you apart. And then of course Joburg is where the most networks are formed, opportunities are given and plans made to make them come alive,” she says.
Although Jo wishes that working at The Eye was her fulltime job, she is also currently employed within the corporate world.
Getting to know the very authentic Jo even more intimately…
When Jo describes herself she uses the following words: “Thinker, sensitive, complex, monumental (despite my statue), gifted, kind, gentle, assertive (when necessary), intuitive, inspiring, fluid (in my escapes), tough (the world can be very mean and scary), brave and Bold.”
She says that she does not necessarily have a secret to success, but ”because I’m always in my head, I have an outlet release for my thoughts that turn into action. I prepare. I commit. I show up. I execute.”
Currently still very single, Jo says that she hopes the message the world gets from her is that being smart is very cool and not knowing everything is even better. “It means more room to absorb all that which the world gets right and filter out what you don’t need. Prejudice sets you back. Educate yourself and better your world. You’ll be surprised at how attractive it is to speak sense, walk sense and embody sense,” she adds.
When it comes to Jo’s fun side, she shares the following five facts about herself: “My favourite colour is green. In truth it’s actually red, but I don’t want to hurt green’s feelings.”
“I’m an Aries. A fire sign. I’m a freakin’ Inferno.”
“I think my insides (emotionally, spiritually and soulfully) are more attractive than my exterior.”
“I have more than 10 beauty spots all over my body.”
“I already have grey hair, but I dye my hair black.”
Jo also shares that she actually wanted to be a computer animator, creating box office hits like the film Toy Story, but “my voice ended up being louder than my artwork”.
“Small victories mean just as much as the summit. Your final peaking moment isn’t the big picture. It’s impressive to watch it, but it’s not the full story. Your journey from the bottom to the top is more exciting. Earn your way to the top and share your story with the masses. When I was 9 years old Rude Boy Paul did an advert, I can’t remember which advert, and he’d say ‘Go on, take the world to the people’. So like me I encourage everyone else to go on and take the world to the people – and share your journey as people do want to hear it,” Jo concludes.
Catch Jo Lumka on The Eye (www.theeye.tv) every Wednesday from 14:00 to 16:00.