Morning News & Sport Anchor on Smile 90.4fm, family man, visionary. These are just some of the ways you could describe Morne Esben. His story is one marked by pursuing the road of a professional, going after what you know you were created to do, and overcoming whatever obstacles that may stand in your way.
I was fortunate enough to catch up with Morné in person and hear where his journey down the road less traveled has taken him so far. How it began made all the difference.
“I’m originally from East London in the Eastern Cape. I studied there, matriculated from Selborne College in 2002 and then in 2003 I decided to completely uproot myself and come through to Cape Town,” Esben begins.
“I went to varsity at CPUT Bellville, they called it Peninsula Technikon back then,…the downside was that by then the journalism school had already closed for applications so I was forced to do for a year something that I wasn’t necessarily keen on, something that I wasn’t necessarily passionate about, but something that I had to do just for the sake of staying busy for the year,…so I did Information Technology (IT) for a year…[and] just used it as a sort of springboard for journalism school.”
Esben started studying journalism in 2004 and then began his in-service training at KFM in 2005 after some of his lecturers recommended him for the internship. “I got a lot of guidance from my lecturers to say, ‘Listen, you would be good at radio journalism because of your voice,’ and they had phoned around and tried to place me. It was just one of those things where KFM said, ‘We will take an intern this year – who have you got?’ And my lecturers recommended me.”
It was by no means smooth sailing for Esben, away from his family at home in East London while studying to get a foot in the door at KFM. “I went and started there as an intern and had no idea about radio journalism, had no idea about journalism apart from the theory that we had learnt…” He says that one of the real challenges that he faced was trying to marry what he was studying at college with what KFM were teaching him about the practical intricacies of working in radio.
Esben admits, “I was in this job where it felt like I knew nothing, because by the time I got placed all the book learning that I had done up to that point went out the window. I found that…I had to relearn journalism from the job.” He continues, “I still studied for my tests and I still studied what they gave us, I still wrote the exams the way I was supposed to write them, but in my head and in my heart I knew that what I was doing at varsity was outdated. It wasn’t relevant to what I was currently doing.”
He explains his time as an intern at KFM as a year of two halves. “The first six months I messed up left, right, and centre. Second six months I then started getting into what I’m supposed to do. I started becoming good at what I was doing. I started going on air. I started doing voice pieces and all those sort of things. So certainly for me it looked like there was an upward curve starting, where the first six months were a horror show, second six months much better.”
It continued to go from strength to strength for Esben as he was then offered a Junior Reporter contract, but that too was not without its fair share of challenges. He shares, “At that point I was still working and studying at the same time, because I had to finish third year. KFM didn’t want me to just focus on my studies – they still needed me to work as well. It was difficult. So, by the time third year was done I was just so relieved and so happy that…I could completely focus on my career and the career path that I wanted to take from there.”
Morne Esben is the epitome of what we at 4Ward! Magazine like to call an ambitious young professional. Despite the inevitable trials that will come your way as you move into the professional sector, you can emulate Esben’s example of persevering even if the rewards don’t seem great at the time.
Join me next month as we find out how Esben remained motivated to journey down the road less traveled, and what invaluable advice he can share about pursuing the career that you have been created to do.