Doreen Nasasira remembers the day she started presenting the K-Zone, a late night show on KFM in September 2016. As the 30-year-old settled into her presenting role, she worried about what kind of perception listeners would have towards her and the show, in general.
“People have this mentality that presenting a late night show is supposed to be a man’s job, one with a deep, husky, luring voice. Well, I am not a man, but, a woman presenting a late-night show. My voice is not deep on the other hand,” she says.
Even then, Nasasira’s voice is rather captivating and soothing. In person however, Nasasira is chatty.
“So, as I was starting out, I had this mentality that I was the wrong woman for the job. I did not know if I would be able to pull it off,” she says.
In addition, her first days on the job attracted a lot of condemnation from the listeners. Some of the listeners would mention statements like, “she is too loud”, “she over laughs”, “she speaks too much Luganda,” among other things.
At some point, Nasasira could take it no more. She reached out to her boss, Joseph Beyanga, Head of Radio Programming at Nation Media Group, to air out her grievances.
“I remember telling him that I could no longer do the job,” she recalls. “I wanted to walk away.”
In response, Beyanga simply said, “Just go and do your thing. Be yourself. They will embrace and finally get used to you.”
And that’s what Nasasira did. She heeded the advice, and, over time, the listeners started showing their appreciation towards her programme.
The content of the show
K-Zone show takes place from 8pm to midnight under the tagline, “We create connections and mend hearts”. The first hour of the show is dedicated towards playing song requests. Then, the second hour the (K-Zone garage) is an interactive session between Nasasira and her listeners.
“I get to talk to my listeners during this part of the show and read messages. But also, most importantly, I get to introduce the relationship issue we shall be discussing during the rest of the show,” she says.
During the third hour, Nasasira calls up the person embroiled in a relationship issue to discuss the matter. Sometimes, she may play a recorded story of the person giving further details of the problem they are facing. Shortly after the issue has been aired out, Nasasira then encourages her listeners to give advice.
“My job is to listen to the issue at hand, and then, let listeners weigh in on the matter,” she says.
The last hour is most times dedicated to people who are searching for partners or soul mates. After the show ends at midnight, Nasasira is taken back home using a company car to ensure that she gets home safe and sound.
Not a relationship counsellor
Nasasira emphasises that she is not a relationship counsellor for the show.
“There are times I feel though, as if people are trying to make me one, but I try to avoid the role as much as possible,” she says.
“I can never directly tell a listener with a relationship issue what to do. I don’t want to be part of their final decision, What if my advice backfires? Instead, what I do is listen to the issue at hand and have listeners weigh in on the matter. I may widen their perspective by narrating different real-life relationship experiences, but, will in the end leave them to make the final decision on their own.”
Enoths Nabaasa, 32, is one of the listeners who credits the K-Zone family for helping him walk out of a broken relationship. He has been a fan of the show for the past couple of years. About two months back, he was convinced to call up Nasasira because he was in a stressful relationship.
“My fiancé was taking me for granted, and, I didn’t enjoy it one bit,” he says, adding, “So, I called up Doreen and told her what was happening.”
Nasasira responded by opening up Nabaasa to a pool of the K-Zone family listeners.
“The listeners gave me different helpful pieces of advice. I weighed all the options before finally arriving to the decision of walking out of the relationship and moving on with my life,” Nabaasa says.
Nabaasa says if he had not sought intervention from the show, he would probably still be stuck today in his broken relationship.
The dark side of presenting the show
As much Nasasira helps mend hearts during the show, the job is however costing her a love life.
“The men who often express interest in me feel insecure about my job,” she says.
She recalls that one particular man in the past, who had fallen in love with her could not come to terms with the fact that Nasasira was referring to other male listeners by the titles, “darling” and “sweetheart”.
“I tried to explain to him that it was only part of the job as I am expected to be sweet to my listeners. I tried urging him to trust me, but, all was in vain. He remained consistently jealous,” she says.
Their relationship lasted less than three months. Currently, Nasasira says she is single and hopes to settle down with a man who trusts her and understands the nature of her job.
“I can never leave a job because of a man or marriage. I would rather be alone,” she says.
Over all, Nasasira says most men have a certain kind of negative perception towards women working on late-night radio.
“They think we can’t be submissive, that we are hard. Others think we are all over the place, and, are promiscuous. Personally, men think there are a number of guys running after me, which is not true,” she says.
Nasasira says such perceptions are wrong. In fact, the presenter says she has never met most of the listeners she interacts with on air.
Despite the dark side, Nasasira acknowledges the fact that the different experiences from listeners have made her learn a lot about love and marriage.
“There have been times though when people’s stories make you scared to fall in love or even get married. People tell you things and you too become emotional,” she says.
In fact, the late presenter recalls a time she broke down after a man shared a story of his best-man who had an affair with his wife. Later on, he even discovered that the three children from the marriage were not his but were his wife’s and best man.
“I broke down. I could not help it,” she says, adding, “The man later walked out of the marriage.”
Some of such experiences have taught Nasasira to tread carefully when it comes to matters of the heart. Overall however, she is happy to do what she does, hoping that she is helping people have a good time in the evening, as they listen to the show at that time.
Four quick questions with Nasasira
What has been your most embarrassing moment on the show?
One time, a male listener called me up and asked, “What type of knickers are you putting on?” Really? Who asks such questions? I was in shock.
What was your response to him?
I ignored him and went for a quick commercial break.
The most notable advice a listener shared…
There is a listener called Sylvie who is always calling me on the show. One time, a single mum called, saying she was worried whether she could make it in life without a man. So, Sylvie called right back on air and advised this single mother saying, “There are very many single mums out there, you can learn to be independent, you can make it, and God will make a way. Stop being lazy. I hate it when women think they cannot live without men. Women should stop depending on men. Women too can make it.” Those words have stuck with me till today.
Advice to other women…
There are no jobs meant for a man or woman. Women can do anything.
What listeners say about the show…
Sylvia Ngabire aka Sylvie, 29
“I have been part of Doreen’s journey right from the time she took over the show in 2016. I love her because she’s non-judgmental. She will listen to those with issues and find a way of resolving them. And even when some listeners are rude, she will remain composed. I also love the fact that over the years, some of the listeners have become like family to her, for instance, when someone has taken long to call, she will ask on air if they are okay. And, she even knows names of the frequent callers, which is such a thoughtful gesture.”
Layira Nakayemba, 22
“I started listening to Doreen in 2016 and I have learnt a number of things regarding relationships from the show. I have learnt not to just say yes to every man who says they want to be in a relationship with me. I have learnt to tread carefully. Not all that glitters is gold. The other thing I have learnt is the importance of opening up when one has a relationship issue. A number of people have been helped from the show because they have disclosed their problems.”