Father Emil Blaser Hangs Up His Morning Mic
After 17 years, Fr Emil Blaser OP hung up the microphone on his Radio Veritas morning show “Matins” on May 11, with many past interviewees paying tribute to South Africa’s radio pioneer. Over the years, Fr Blaser has interviewed hundreds of eminent people including bishops, nuncios and ambassadors, and got to know many people who have become his friends.
He said one of his greatest joys has also been the collaboration with The Southern Cross, which has championed the radio station through its long struggle to receive a broadcast licence.
Radio Veritas broadcasts in Gauteng on 576AM, as well as nationally on DStv audio channel 870, and streams its content on www.radioveritas.co.za.
The Dominican priest also looks back with great joy to the ordinary people he has interacted with on Radio Veritas.
“Much time on my morning was devoted to events in parishes. We have given much time to St Francis Centre in Boksburg and Little Eden. We have promoted the donation of water to drought-stricken areas and sanitary towels for young girls who would otherwise not be able to go to school. We successfully appealed for somebody to donate a kidney.”
While Fr Blaser is leaving the morning show — where he is succeeded by Khanya Litabe — he remains as the station’s director. He will also present the daily devotional programme “As The Sun Sets”, which is pre-recorded, and is available to stand in for absent presenters.
Leaving the morning show means that he has more time to focus on funding Radio Veritas.
“Sadly, after all these years, we still struggle financially, even though we have taken the flag of the Gospel and Church into areas, cars and other places more effectively than any other means,” he said.
“There are still some people who haven’t heard of Radio Veritas and even a few Catholic parishes which won’t allow us in.”
Fr Blaser said he is grateful for the generosity of those who contribute to the survival of Radio Veritas.
He said that the biggest challenges will remain financing the station and finding the necessary talent to produce quality programmes in different languages.
“My leaving the morning programme provides us with an opportunity to restructure our content,” Fr Blaser said.
On the morning show, the popular Mr Litabe is accompanied by Colin Yorke. Olinda Orlando remains the producer.
Mr Litabe said that he will miss Fr Blaser’s enthused singing in the mornings, and his humour, motivation and positive outlook on life.
“With Fr Emil behind the mic, it has been a journey of joy and inspiration and ‘good news for a change’ for so many Radio Veritas listeners,” said Mr Litabe, referring to the station’s motto.
Mr Litabe has stood in for Fr Blaser on the morning show on many occasions.
“While Colin Yorke and I will try and keep these qualities alive, we know there can only be one Fr Emil. We will be standing on the shoulders of a giant of broadcasting. We can only try and do what we can, to ‘dance with the spirit early in the morning’,” Mr Litabe said.
Fr Blaser says he knows that many people will miss him in the morning, which is the cause of joy and sadness for him.
“There have been times when I have not felt like going on air but being in the studio behind the microphone simply fired me up and I would come alive. There are a few things I love more than the microphone,” he said.
“I will truly miss these three hours every day behind the microphone. I will miss singing for the children in the morning and chatting with them. I will miss the many daily callers whose voices I have come to know so well.
“And then there was the fun with my colleagues in the studio with whom I established a deep togetherness and sometimes, under the stress of the moment, they would’ve experienced the edge of my tongue. But we still love each other and enjoy working together.”
Now he is looking forward to sleeping later in the morning, something which he needs for his health.
Looking back Fr Blaser is grateful to so many of his colleagues who walked this journey with him.
“The love and appreciation of our listeners is a great gift for which I shall always be grateful. I could never be who I am, were it not for the thousands of wonderful people out there who have appreciated my gift. Without them, there would be no Radio Veritas,” he said.
“But above all, I thank God, who is the giver of all good things.”