Cynthia Mwangi is passionate about all aspects of radio and has been in the fast-paced industry for more than a decade behind the scenes producing exceptional content.
She holds the mic, also manages some of the best talents at Royal Media Services (RMS).
The bubbly Cynthia is the Head of Radio at Hot 96, a radio host and a content producer, as well as a PR consultant and a Life coach among many others.
She recently launched a ‘Living by Design’ template.
The journalist, who has a sweet tooth, is quite a gifter and this led her to co-found Ythera Gifts, an online-based gifts-cum-chocolate confectioneries company, which has since transformed into a chocolate club offering exclusive wine and chocolate pairings.
“Like most pioneer media students in many learning institutions, we didn’t have much to go with except theoretical training at the Multimedia University. This led to my six-month internship training at Royal Media Services, Hot 96 being the only station I had wanted to intern at.”
She found herself producing Radio Citizen, a Swahili radio station and Mulembe FM, a vernacular station that signaled the start of her illustrious career in the media industry.
“At that point I had never been in a production studio, never had I seen a mixer or any of the editing software that was being used.
“I hadn’t learnt or experienced anything Radio. However, I winged the heck out of it. My mentors Julian Macharia (then Deputy Programs Director) and Simaloi Dajom (then Head of Production), were patient with me. In less than two months, I was one of the most promising interns.”
To Cynthia, working behind the scenes gives her the fulfillment she needs.
“At one time, as I was heading home, I passed by some Boda Boda guys. They were listening to the news reports from across the country that I had just worked on. It gave me such a satisfying feeling to realise the kind of impact I was making.”
The brief incident confirmed that all the work pressure and the long hours made sense in the long run. She was putting in all the hard work and passion for them - the listeners.
As a content producer, she has served as part of the best Swahili Afternoon Shows, Mambo Mseto with Willy M Tuva on Radio citizen, produced one of the most listened to and watched breakfast shows on English Radio, the Hot Breakfast, which was then hosted by Jeff Koinange and comedian Felix Odiwuor alias Jalang’o.
“What I love about content production is the ability to bring ideas to life which remains one of my biggest assets and strengths.”
Cynthia’s Career Factsheet:
• Head of Hot 96 Radio – Heads and manages Hot 96, one of 14 radio stations at RMS.
• Audio and content producer.
• Radio presenter/host – Hosts Hot 96’s ‘The Morning After’ on Saturday morning.
• Is a PR consultant and life coach - launched a ‘Living by Design’ template.
Cynthia shared why she settled on media, where she has risen through the ranks for the past 10 years.
“Besides Law, media was the only career I was going to venture into.”
These are her two reasons for choosing media:
• The ability, the opportunity and the platform to speak for the voiceless shape opinions and influence the people who are either scared to speak up or don’t have the opportunity to. With the confidence I have, it made me realise, I could use the same to impact the world.
• I was vocal, opinionated, and an entertainer from a very young age. I have to give credit to my dad for seeing it before we all did - for a long time, he kept calling me ‘Waithera Muitherania’ a veteran radio presenter formerly at Inooro FM. I couldn’t put three sentences together in Kikuyu, but I knew that’s what I was meant to do.
“Would I have made a good advocate? Maybe. I might just pick it up.”
She shared some of the lessons she has learnt in her decade-long journey in the media.
“Being a manager can be both challenging and fulfilling in equal measure. People are different, their passions and what drives them are varied. It takes a lot of wisdom and patience to mould and morph the different personalities into a productive and motivated team. The ability to manage a team that delivers and seeing its impact on the community and the people around makes it all worth it.
“You cannot control all situations, and one has to adjust the sails with the wind. I have worked in different departments with different expectations and deliverables; often, you find curveballs thrust in your way, but you have to learn how and when to swing as they are thrown at you.”
So, what would she change about the media industry?
“Not change but improvement. Media organisations need to adapt and embrace opportunities that will enable the media industry to flourish. The media industry also needs to be agile in taking full advantage of digital spaces and innovations through audience, listenership, readers data that will shape future decisions of the industry.”
These are her tips to younger women joining the media profession.
• Learn to look for opportunities in the position you are in. A couple of years ago, when producing Jeff & Jalas Show, a young intern called Dickson approached me. He wasn’t assigned to Hot 96, but he was passionate about camera work and digital growth. He wanted an opportunity to show what he can do. I got him a camera and allowed him access to the studio. He transformed the show into one of the most successful online content the station has ever had. It wasn’t a surprise when he moved to a different media house and is doing quite well.
• Don’t limit yourself to just one role. Try out as many departments as you can. The more multifaceted you are, the more valuable you become. The industry isn’t kind to lazy people. It tends to swallow you and spit you out in minutes.
• Your hard work will pay off, keep working- Both on yourself and with the assignments given. Who would have predicted an intern at Radio Citizen would become the Station Manager at Hot 96? In between there, I produced for five radio stations; worked six days a week, and put in some long hours while at it.
The smiley and focused Cynthia shared how she has managed to navigate the Organisational culture and politics that often adversely affects one’s career development.
“I work in one of the best media houses and biggest at that. Just like any other organisation, it has its culture and politics. I learnt to understand and align myself strategically than just watch as the culture and politics work for me.
“Don’t shy away from either but embrace and learn to use them to your advantage. Culture and politics in an organization will shape who you are and cause a ripple effect on your career, so you might as well use them to propel you in the right direction. Also, learn to use both or either to position yourself strategically.”
We asked her what role she feels the media plays in amplifying women’s spaces, promoting their inclusion and diversity in the 21st century.
This is what she had to say:
“Telling their stories, creating spaces/ platforms where these stories can be told and giving women either through leadership opportunities or featuring them are a few of the things media can amplify and include women. More can always be done.”
She went on: “Media is making significant strides in showcasing, creating platforms and amplifying the spaces of women in society. The increase in women who are breaking barriers and shattering glass ceilings has also made this easier. More women can now be included in the decision-making tables, and their stories and accomplishments featured.”
What two values have shaped the way she lives and works and kept her grounded?
• Patience and Resilience: My position has exposed me to learn that when things seem to be whirl winding, I need to pause, take a breather and try to see the situation from another perspective before responding.
• Courage: I have learnt that in life, you just need to keep moving despite the noise around you. It is about having the courage to do what needs to be done, period.
So, how does she describe herself and how do others perceive her?
“I tell people I’m an introvert with extrovert streaks. Ambitious, self-driven and brutally honest. I am passionate about what I do, a team player with a penchant to see and experience the world in 6-inch heels. When the beat drops, I’m the first on the dance floor.
“What others think of me – I am a risk-taker, daring. When I walk into a room, heads turn because of my personality. Loyal, kind and committed to the people that I care about. And hilarious! I kid you not.”
Here’s her parting shot:
“Enjoy life, take risks, learn, unlearn, experience what life has to offer. This is not a rehearsal, this is it- LIFE. You get to do it only once, so make it memorable. Don’t let people’s opinion of you override yours. Leave a mark in the world, so everyone will know you were here.”