The media personality on marriage, long lunches and laughing your ass off
February 12, 2015

GERRY RANTSELI-ELSDON

IT has been about two years since we have seen Rantseli-Elsdon on TV. Having made a strong impression as the co-host of South Africa’s first Big Brother reality series and as a continuity presenter for M-Net, Rantseli-Elsdon has also used her celebrity for her various humanitarian projects.

When I got hold of her, she was just leaving Power FM after being interviewed. After quickly taking a picture with a fan, as the National TB Ambassador for Sound Africa and Global TB Advocate: International Federation of the Red Cross, she chatted about returning to the small screen with ANN7.

“I have known the Gupta family for 15, maybe more, years. We have done things before. About two months ago, I was called from someone from the old team I worked with. They asked me to come in and have a chat. At that stage, I didn’t know they were starting a news channel.”

After hearing their proposal to host the breakfast show, Vuka Africa, seven days a week, and to be its executive producer and select a team, Rantseli-Elsdon immediately signed on the dotted line.

“I have been off screen for a while. I wasn’t certain if I came back what I primarily wanted to do. I needed to do a project I could influence. While I’m the lead anchor, I have three other presenters – brand new faces – who would be dealing with other segments.”

Given the strong female influence, Rantseli-Elsdon adds: “I’m not certain you are aware of this – the entire channel is populated with women. It’s about 85 percent female. That was a deliberate decision on the part of the shareholders.”

The affable TV personality says what will make her show a cut above the rest is the fact that it won’t be news only.

She explains: “Of course, it will encompass what a normal morning show does, incorporating the usual suspects: news, news headlines, business, weather and sport as our stalwarts. Primarily, though, it will be a three-hour lifestyle show. We are taking the more international approach.

“In the evenings, we have our hard news. When I’m speaking to a politician, for example, it won’t be the hard story. It would be from a completely different dynamic. Morning television has started taking the radio format of quick, fast-paced and interesting. Of course, if a political story broke, we would use that.”

Also assisting with grooming newcomers on the nitty-gritty of on-air presenting, Rantseli-Elsdon is full of praise for the hi-tech equipment they have at their disposal at the channel.

“The entire channel is equipped for that breaking news platform. We will bring stories live as we have a number of OB (outdoor broadast) vans, which are not like the old-fashioned vans.

“This will be the most technologically sound and international format SA has ever had. Our cameras in studio are all robotic. Even the lighting moves robotically.”

Relishing being in the broadcast environment again, she laughs. “I had forgotten how much of a rush it can be.”

Shifting to a more serious note, she says: “The team of ANN7, as a channel, want to bring strong journalism and critical news to the viewers but we also don’t want to play to anyone’s tune.
“We can dictate how we are going to do that – we are not replicating anything on South African TV or produced locally.”

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