Kenyan radio is dying. That’s what you’ll hear most millennials say nowadays. With the advent of this amazing thing called the podcast, the future of radio seems bleak.
Thanks to the internet, you can listen to any podcast on any topic or music genre from anywhere in the world. Everyone and their mother has one. I mean, who is still listening to analogue radio?
Like any millennial, you will find me on the Internet scouring different podcasts and DJ mixes for my news and entertainment needs. Nobody got time to tune in to an FM frequency, even in the car – unless you’re missing an aux feature like me.
That makes me one of the few old people who still browse the radio airwaves.
Apart from my mum’s Kikuyu radio stations and live interviews of my favourite Kenyan artists, I only tune in to particular shows. The ones that play unique African music I would not find on my own. Discovery is a forever gig as a music junkie.
I have had to update my listening list as some of my favourite Kenyan radio shows lost their presenters – yes, I’m talking about you Hits Not Homework. With time I also stopped listening to Rick Dees’ Weekly Top 40 countdown partly because I am usually asleep on Saturday mornings. Plus my obsession with Kenyan music is pretty deep.
Still love you Rick!
I don’t always listen to Kenyan radio shows, but when I do these are the ones I listen to.
Source: Caffe Mocha Live
Time: Sunday 10 am – 1pm
Station: Homeboyz Radio 103.5FM
HBR might be Nairobi’s home of hip-hop culture but I tune in for other reasons. Caffe Mocha is that radio show you listen to when you’re heading home from Temple Nairobi on a Sunday morning. It is the perfect haven for Afro-house music junkies. Because Afro-house is NOW.
Jack Rooster is the captain and has been consistently supporting the #HouseMovement over 400 flights across Africa. For 3 straight hours, the Kenyan DJ and music producer plays EDM remixes of classic Kenyan pop songs (like Ninanoki by Nameless and Amani) and original house music from Kenya and the continent.
I was once an invited guest to his show and it was a such a vibe. Dancing in that exquisite studio overlooking uptown Nairobi, I felt like I was on top of the clouds. And I even got to pick the alternative track of the day: Shuga Mami by Ayrosh.
If you love to party, Jack Rooster (not his real name) also highlights upcoming EDM events in Nairobi that he will be deejaying at. Such as his monthly Afro Social gig at the Alchemist Bar where he launched his debut Afro-house album “Nyumba” on June 15th 2019.
Update: After 10 years of sweet Caffe Mocha in the morning, Jack ended his long-running radio show in 2021. Thankfully, you can listen back to previous shows on Jack Rooster’s Mixcloud page and enjoy interviews + mixes of your favourite Afrohouse DJs. You can also catch his ongoing Deeper Sounds of Nairobi podcast recorded live from Greece.
Source: Ghetto Radio
Time: Tuesday 8-11pm
Station: Ghetto Radio 89.5
I am not even ashamed to say this. Ghetto Radio is my go-to radio station whenever I’m in the car. Kenya’s No.1 Ghetto Radio is not just for hustlers and reggae music as they may want you to think (although nobody can stop reggae).
You’ll be impressed by their diverse playlist of classic R&B hits, old school and new school authentic Kenyan music – the kind that deserves to be played on all Kenyan radio stations. When Ghetto Radio says they #playKenyanMusic, they mean it. And this weekly hip-hop show is more proof.
I’m not even the biggest hip-hop head among my friends. But Curtis’ selection of old and new school hip-hop is refreshing. I’m talking Slim Shady, Tupac, Jay Z, Kalamashaka, K South, Khaligraph, King Kaka (when he was still deep) up to the new kids on the block – Wakadinali.
What I admire most about this Kenyan radio show is that it plays real conscious hip-hop music with substance, not the mumble rap and shallow trap we’ve been overfed. It also supports underground Kenyan rappers by giving them a chance to send their new music for airplay on the show. Plus you’ll end up learning some Sheng words from Curtis along the way.
Once you listen to #HiphopRepublik you can’t help but say – now this is hip-hop culture.
World Groove Show
Source: Capital FM
Time: Saturday 7-9 pm
Station: 98.4 Capital FM
This is the only radio show I still listen to on Capirro FM. And every Saturday night, the warm-voiced radio presenter (and now podcaster) Kui Kabala takes us on a 2-hour musical journey around the world -from North Africa to South America.
The World Groove Show used to find me on my way to meet my friends so we can dance different at MUZE club. There’s nothing quite like listening to authentic indigenous sounds that speak of their rich origin. And remembering Eric Wainaina’s classic hits like Twende Twende featuring the late Oliver Mtukudzi.
You end up with a fuzzy feeling of nostalgia and patriotism.
If you want to listen to the best mix of world music plus legendary interviews with Salif Keita and Yemi Alade on their way to Koroga Festival, this is it.
Time: Sunday 7-10 pm
Station: Hot 96 Kenya
Wait, how did this get here? Well, Hot Safari, recommended by a guy I met one night at a random event in Nairobi, is how I started listening to Hot 96 – which also plays its fair share of Kenyan music.
Apparently, his group of friends always tune in to this radio show at their local pub like a Sunday ritual. So I thought, why not?
Here is another musical journey, this time around Africa. You will hear the voices of African legends Brenda Fasie, Papa Wemba and Fadhili Williams, reminding you of our golden past with their classic jams. Not forgetting a healthy dose of rhumba, lingala, taarab and contemporary African hits.
And the host Lulu Saidi is a bubbly lady who appreciates Afro-fusion music as much as I do. She also takes her time to educate us about different African artists and music genres.
I’m pretty glad that stranger introduced me to this hot safari.
Source: Patricia Kihoro
Time: Sunday 9-11 pm
Station: Homeboyz Radio 103.5
I could not finish this top list without mentioning this popular Kenyan radio show. As the name suggests, #Afrocentral centres around contemporary music from Kenya and Africa.
Every single week, media personality Patricia Kihoro opens our ears to alternative Kenyan music worth playing over and over again. The kind of music you’d only find on Soundcloud.
Over the past few years I’ve been listening, the showtimes have moved from 11 am to 7 pm and now 9 pm – I guess Patricia had other things to do, like attend concerts and festivals around the world. When she’s not busy travelling and streaming her shows remotely, she also hosts various guests in the Homeboyz Radio studio.
For example, she interviewed Kenyan legend Harry Kimani in 2019. This is before the Haiya hitmaker made his musical comeback at Speakerbox at K1, a live acoustic gig she used to host every Wednesday night in Nairobi.
Update: Unfortunately, Patricia announced in late 2019 that she would take a break from Afrocentral after 5 years of hosting the popular show. This means our Sunday nights have become empty and meaningless.
At least we have the hot safari.
It seems mainstream radio has finally opened its eyes to the millenial shift from analogue frequencies to the digital world. To stay relevant, these Kenyan radio stations now have online streaming sites. And some have even started their own podcasts!
With most of my time spent on my favourite Kenyan podcasts, I barely have time to discover more radio shows that play unique African music – unless I’m stuck in a traffic jam or cruising on a road trip. Let me know in the comments: which Kenyan radio show do you still listen to?
P.S. Tired of listening to the same old songs on radio? Want to discover the best Kenyan music playing on the internet? Enter your email to receive my EXCLUSIVE #PlayKe playlist straight in your inbox.