An audience with Radiohead’s Colin Greenwood

An audience with Radiohead’s Colin Greenwood

PETER TROMP spoke to Radiohead cofounder and bassist COLIN GREENWOOD, who recently visited Cape Town on behalf of Children’s Radio Foundation. During the interview, Greenwood also hints at a possible tour of South Africa by his internationally renowned band.

What enticed you to come down to SA and get involved on a ground level here with an organisation like Children’s Radio Foundation?
I am a fan of radio, having grown up in a household where radio was really important. My family used to listen to the reportage programmes on the BBC World Service and I used radio as a window through which to look onto other worlds. When I was invited to be Global Ambassador of Children’s Radio Foundation I was very happy to do so. Children’s Radio Foundation uses radio as a tool to empower young people, working with community radio stations across South Africa (and five other countries on the African continent). I wanted to come to South Africa and see the projects as soon as I possibly could. So here I am.

What has your experience been like so far in our country? What are your impressions of the place, especially Cape Town?
South Africa is beautiful. We went on the coolest drive from Johannesburg to Limpopo to visit Moutsee Community Radio Station, and the scenery was incredible. I couldn’t put my camera down. There is also an incredible amount of positivity in South Africa – in music, arts and culture, as well as the stories people tell. I’ve been really touched by the kindness of many of the people we’ve met too. At all of the community radio stations I’ve visited around South Africa there are some incredible trainers, supporting teams of young people to help them produce great radio content. Often these guys are working for very little pay and in poor conditions. But they do it with a smile on their face!
South Africa is also a country in transition, and the whorl of the Children’s Radio Foundation is part of this.

What is the ultimate goal of Radio Children’s Foundation?
Children’s Radio Foundation helps young people deal with some of the topics that are important to them through radio. By using a microphone, young people are given a platform to speak. Children’s Radio Foundation develops long-term, small-scale relationships with radio stations to ensure young people’s voices are heard by their communities.
Put a microphone in front of a child and they feel like someone is listening. When they think someone is listening they immediately up their game and start thinking of something to say. Radio is at the heart of many rural communities in South Africa and people on the radio are treated as role models. This means that the people listening to these young people talking about their lives respond positively.

I read elsewhere that Radiohead have no plans to tour here anytime soon, and that sucks, but can you please tell me if there is a particular reason that a place like SA is not on your radar as far as tour destinations are concerned? I am convinced you guys would sell out in a second, but that’s obviously not the issue.
It’s great that there is so much interest in bringing Radiohead to South Africa. I love the country and I would love to come here with the band to perform. I will be talking to the other four guys when I get back. I know we’d have a really good time here.

What impression have you formed from the kids and young adults you have worked in SA about their current music tastes? What do you think about the music landscape at the moment in general?
I’ve heard a lot of great South African music on this trip. In Kuruman, the community radio station Karara FM played some good afro pop, which I really liked. I’ve also seen some cool jazz in Cape Town and spent some time with the Blk Jks in Johannesburg. It seems music is thriving in South Africa.

* For more information on Children’s Radio Foundation, visit, or Greenwood’s personal blog on the project,