Riaan Cruywagen


Riaan Cruywagen started reading the Afrikaans news on SABC in 1975 and is regarded as one of South Africa’s iconic voices, guiding many through the turbulent 80’s and 90’s. He considers himself a truly proud South African and his legacy lives on as one of the best news anchor’s of modern times. The Legacy Project was very blessed to have caught up with Riaan last week. Here’s his interview:

My Definition Of Success | This has changed for me over the years from a purely materialistic and egoistic stance, as a youngster, to a much deeper understanding of my purpose in life, i.e. to derive fulfillment and satisfaction from doing whatever I do to the best of my ability and to the benefit and well-being of my fellow man.

I Am Driven By | The simple fact that there is so much still to be done and so little time to achieve it.  In broadcasting, every second counts.  Therefore, an opportunity missed is personal improvement wasted.

A Key Talent | As a career broadcaster of more than 50 years, several attributes were critical to my success – the most important of which are characteristics such as punctuality, credibility, reliability, objectivity and impartiality, and talents such as good language proficiency, a good voice for broadcasting, clear diction, fluent reading ability, and an insatiable appetite for general knowledge.  Traits can be developed by resolving always to be punctual, credible, reliable, objective and impartial – in fact, they should form an integral part of every person’s life.  But talents, on the other hand, can hardly be taught – a person who stutters, e.g., or someone with a poor voice quality, could never become a broadcaster… just like a vision impaired individual could not become an airline pilot.  Prospective broadcasters who have the potential should practice incessantly to develop their language usage by speaking properly and correctly wherever they are; they should continually evaluate their diction by listening to recordings of their own speech; they should read their newspapers aloud to improve fluency in addition to gaining general knowledge; they should listen attentively to those who have mastered the art, emulate and learn from them.  Finally, the most important thing is to realise that you’re only as good as your last programe.

Principles I Live By | To be honest at all times, to respect the human dignity of others, never to compromise my self-respect.  I firmly believe that I should do unto others what I would like them to do unto me, even if it often means that I have to clench my teeth and count to ten before I say or do something that I might regret.

Lessons I Have Learnt | One of the best lessons was taught to me by my late father – if I can’t pay cash for something, I can’t afford it.  This implies that there is no room in my life to keep up with the ‘Joneses’.  Once I had learnt how to be content with what I had, I found that I was able, privileged and delighted to share with the less fortunate.  In my career I learnt that there is no such thing as a consummate broadcaster – even the very best of us learn something every day

Performing At My Peak | I can only perform at my peak when I get enough sleep during the night, exercise regularly, eat wisely, don’t smoke, consume very little alcohol, make time to relax with my family, don’t allow any form of stress to de-rail me, and always arrive at the studio well-prepared for my programe.  The key is to be sound in body and mind, and to let any butterflies that I may have in my stomach, fly in formation!

Balancing high-performance with happiness & contentment: I am in the very fortunate position that not only am I an eternal optimist with a positive disposition, but also someone who is still madly in love with broadcasting after more than five decades.  I am, therefore, a happy and contented person.

The Best Advice I’ve Received | My mentor was the great American newscaster at CBS, Walter Cronkite.  I once asked him how he managed to become so immensely successful and famous.  He simply replied:  “Young man, it’s because I never go home totally satisfied.  There is always something I could have done better.”  I took his advice and it has since become my motto, too.

The Legacy I Would Like To Leave | I would like to be remembered firstly as a career broadcaster who contributed to the well-being of my fellow South Africans by keeping them informed through TV news in a credible, authoritative, objective and impartial way; and secondly as a husband, father, grandfather, friend and human being who exuded love and respect.  In fact, the graffiti on a wall in Kyamandi near Stellenbosch says it all: “RIAAN CRUYWAGEN IS PROUDLY SOUTH AFRICAN”.

Interview Questions

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