Veteran journalist John Perlman has hosted his last AM Live, writes Bate Felix. Today’s show and the After 8 debate were dedicated to callers phoning to thank him for hosting the programme with a high degree of journalistic integrity and professionalism.

Most of the callers reminisced about exchanges they had with him, and wished him well.

His departure was met with protests and praise. Outside the SABC,
protesters from the Freedom of Expression Institute protested, while a
full-page ad in the Mail & Guardian paid tribute to him.

The ad, signed by 221 prominent individuals and organisations, said:
“We pay tribute to him as an excellent and patriotic journalist. For
more than a decade, Perlman has led the pack as a feisty, thoughtful
and deeply committed voice. He has helped ensure the public broadcaster
has offered a platform for ordinary people to debate many diverse
issues in the public interest.”
Bowing out at 9am this morning, Perlman said he’ll miss many things,
but one thing he’ll not miss is his alarm waking him every weekday
morning at 4:00am.
Soon after coming off air, caught up with him.

Q & A with John Perlman

What does it feel like to say goodbye to AM Live?
JP: I feel a little sad, but I am leaving with good memories of working
with great people with whom together, we have been putting a great
programme over the past years.

What were the highlights of your time on AM Live?

JP: Far and away I think it is the After 8 debate which we introduced four years ago.

And the low points?

JP: I am not really thinking about them, not that there weren’t any, but at the moment, I am not thinking about them.

Of the many interviews you did, which were the best you that you can think of?

JP: The one that stands out, and we played it on air on our last show
today, is the one with the Mountaineer Sibusiso Vilane immediately
after his descent from mount Everest. It was a great it interview
because we had him live and it was still in the news.

Which were the worst?

JP: I can’t think of any particular one, not that I didn’t do some, but I can’t think of any now.

In the time you spent speaking with a cross section of South Africans, what issues have been their major concern?

JP: The issues are wide ranging, the most striking thing is that people
always wanted to talk, to share their experiences and be heard.

Any regrets about your role in the blacklisting row?

JP: No
What's your view of the state of radio in SA?

JP: I can’t really speak for other radio stations because I rarely have
time to listen to them, but I would imagine that radio in SA is very
vibrant and doing very well.

What will you be doing next, do you plan to remain in the media?

JP: I think I would.

If you were asked for advice by your successor, what would you say?

JP: I would pass on that.

If SABC management were to ask you for advice, what would you say?

JP: I would pass on that also.

Anything you regret having not done while hosting AM Live?

JP: I wish we had taken to show more often to the communities, like
broadcasting from community centres where the people get to participate
and air their views, I wish we had done that more often

How do you feel about being able to sleep later than has been the usual these past years?

JP: I am looking forward to it. Even though getting up early was part
of the job and I did not mind, but will certainly enjoy sleeping late.

What will you be doing for the rest of the day?

JP: Shopping, and later on partying with some friends

Cape Argus: Politicians pay tribute to Perlman

M&G: Perlman: Thanks for having me

M&G: Up close with Perlman

M&G: Today's Zapiro cartoon